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A day in the jungle – on the tracks of reptiles and fish

Even though we have been getting so little sleep and have a strenuous schedule, we are all feeling great and looking forward to the day ahead of us. At 8:30 AM, we departed for the mountain rivers behind the dam, in the middle of the jungle in three busses loaded with equipment.

After an hour’s bus ride, we set off upstream at a bridge in the middle of the jungle. We hiked along the river and looked around to see what we could discover. We found gobies and loaches near the shore, as well as a larger-sized colourless barbel, a wrestling halfbeak (also known as Malayan halfbeak) and smaller-sized devarios. In our efforts to find fish and invertebrates in the water, we would frequently get down on our stomachs in the moist wet and crawl between the rocks into every niche with our snorkelling gear. Exciting and dangerous at the same time. The current and the slippery rocks called for caution. After all, nobody wanted to end up in hospital. Aside from a few scratches and bruises, everyone enjoyed a great day’s excursion. Exploring seepage springs or larger-sized puddles near rice paddies was especially entertaining, as could be seen by how muddy and dirty we all were afterwards. We were able to discover a few animals on the river shore as well, though. For example, raft spiders (Dolomedes), ants, an oriental garden lizard or changeable Lizard (Calotes versicolo), many different butterflies and much more. We also discovered signs of labyrinth fish in rice paddies, but were unable to find any fish. Instead, though, we found a host of different snail species. Afterwards, we went downstream and investigated the calmer stretch of the river near the reservoir. The results of UV-B measurements in the shade which can reach very high levels despite the lack of sun proved to be especially interesting. These values vary significantly, depending on location.

Next, the bus took us to another spot in the jungle. There, we found impenetrable rain forest with a mountain river with countless rocks and a strong current that turned out to be the only route available. The fish fauna in standing water is completely different from that in flowing water. Accordingly, we were able to find a number of snakeheads, along with a number of other plants and animals. The harmony in the group is terrific. Helpfulness and great conversations round the clock.

Of course, we carried out numerous investigations and prepared numerous documentations of the locations again as well:

  • • Air temperature: 32°
  • • Water temperature: 26°C
  • • Water parameters: 0°dKH, 0°dGH, 7.1 pH, O2 8 mg/l, 0.05 Fe mg/l, conductivity 37,
  • • UV-B: 220

Afterwards, we drove to a farm house were we also planned to have dinner. First, though, we explored the waterfalls and the close surroundings. There, we found the same species as at the previous locations, as well as bullfrogs and tree frogs. After dinner at the farm house, all of the participants set out in search of reptiles, armed with torches/flashlights or headtorches/headlights. We discovered tree frogs, a raft spider (Dolomedes), bats, rats, a bamboo pitviper (Trimeresurus) and an adder species. Unfortunately, the rangers forced us to break off our exploration after 1 ½ hours and accompanied us to our busses. They were also the reason why we were not able to spend our jungle night outdoors. They had accompanied our group when we entered the National Park to make sure that we didn’t take any animals with us. Yesterday’s group was able to sneak an exception, because it wasn’t a weekend. This day was wonderful nevertheless.

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