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Crocodile attack

Although I left Indonesia last month, life in Mesangat doesn't just stop when I'm not there. A few weeks ago I've received rather distressing news that Pak Jay has been attacked by a crocodile. Luckily he survived and will be ok, but he got a few nasty bites to his shin and thigh. Apparently it happened when he was pushing an underwater log with his leg to untangle a fish hook. Suddenly a crocodile grabbed his leg and the small boat was capsized but he managed to grab onto a tree. And then make it back to the rafts.
This is the first crocodile attack on a human ever reported from Mesangat. And there are several questions that arise: Which species attacked him? Pak Jay doesn't know. Other fishermen claim it was C. siamensis and they might be right. The area where it happened is known to have Siamese crocodiles, but tomistomas are also seen nearby. Neither of the croc species that live in Mesangat attacks humans often, so it's equally likely that it was a tomistoma. It…


Last night we caught Wallie – another tomistoma. This one is also new, which means that we haven't recaptured (or seen) a single tomistoma marked last year. I wonder where they all are. And if Stevie is still alive.
As we paddled through the flooded forest in Pak Brahim's small boat last night I was thinking how great it will be to finally get to the hotel in Samarinda on Saturday, sleep in an actual bed with clean sheets in an air-conditioned room and have a real shower. With hot water. And just as I thought this, five macaques peed on me from a tree. So although Mesangat is most accommodating I can't wait for Saturday!

Wczoraj w nocy złapaliśmy Wallie'ego – kolejną tomistomę. Ta też jest nowa, co oznacza że nie złapaliśmy (ani nie widzieliśmy) ani jednej tomistomy oznaczonej w zeszłym roku. Ciekawe gdzie one wszystkie są. I co u Stevie'go.
Kiedy wczoraj przepływaliśmy przez zalany las w małej łódce Pak Brahima myślałam sobie jak fajnie będzie w końcu zanocować w sob…

End of radio tracking

I wanted to catch Koko last night to get the radio transmitter back. We found him but sadly, he's lost the transmitter. And as Mesangat river is quite deep and murky, there's no way we can fish it out now. But Koko wasn't the only croc not fully cooperating last night – the C. siamensis we've had recently has also lost its transmitter already. With two more days in the field left, I guess that concludes radio tracking for this trip.
While searching for Koko we saw an owl and a common kingfisher Alcedo atthis. Catching a large owl is never a great idea, but Pak Iwan managed to get the kingfisher. We took photos and released it this morning while having breakfast with Anton. Some of his family also tried to join but Anton was very firm in establishing that the bananas were his. He ate 12. And then the tree branch he was sitting on snapped.

Chciałam wczoraj złapać Koko, żeby odzyskać nasz nadajnik radiowy. Znaleźliśmy krokodyla, ale niestety okazało się, że w między czasie …

Tea party

We don't have any new crocodiles, but I caught a flycatcher! And then accidentally released it inside the raft. It took us a good 20 minutes to catch the bird again. Which doesn't bode well for our plan of catching Koko tonight to retrieve the transmitter.
Anton has been coming to our afternoon tea parties – where we all sit around the kitchen eating fried bananas and drinking mint tea. Of course, Anton remains at a safe distance on the other side of Mesangat river, but he's been getting bolder. And fatter. Too many bananas? Luckily we're leaving at the end of the week, so he'll have a chance to get back in shape.

Nie mamy żadnych nowych krokodyli, ale za to złapałam muchołówkę. Po czym przypadkowo wypuściłam ją na tratwie. Złapanie jej spowrotem zajęło nam dobre 20 minut. To nie wróży najlepiej, bo planujemy złąpać dziś w nocy Koko, żeby odzyskać nadajnik.
Anton ostatio pojawia się na naszych popłudniowych herbatkach – kiedy siedzimy wszyscy w kuchni jedząc smażone b…

Dziadek & Janek

Pak Brahim has been here less than 24 hours, and he's already caught me three crocodiles! Yesterday morning he brought us a C. siamensis caught on fish hook. This is also a croc we've seen last year but it's now much bigger. Hopefully now that I have some more glue, it will hold on to a radio transmitter for a week and I'll be able to get some data on its home range.
In the evening I went with Pak Brahim to survey the flooded forest for some tomistomas. Since Pak Brahim is an actual crocodile hunter, I'm happy to leave spotlighting and croc catching to him. And since he also knows the forest like the back of his hand, it left me with pretty much nothing to do apart form noting down GPS coordinates and putting rubber bands on crocodile jaws.
I was sitting at the back of the small boat trying not to fall asleep (and off the boat) when suddenly Pak Brahim spotted an eye shine, took off his trousers, jumped into the water and brought back a tomistoma! This – and the f…

Labi labi

Yesterday morning we got labi labi – a softshell turtle Amyda cartilaginea caught on fish hook. Unlike Orlitia borneensis this species is quite aggressive – they can scratch and give a nasty bite. In Asia A. cartilaginea is commonly harvested for meat and for use in traditional Chinese medicine. Its status in Mesangat is unknown and Yayasan Ulin staff are currently collecting mark-recapture data on turtle populations from animals caught by local fishermen.
Despite the unknown numbers of turtles, snakes and crocodiles in the water we also went swimming in Mesangat yesterday. I feel like I've done enough research to be sure that the water in the immediate vicinity of the raft is crocodile free – they're not too fond of heavy boat traffic and Irna's favourite new Rihanna song.

Wczoraj rano rybacy dali nam labi labi – żółwia Amyda carilaginea złapanego na haczyk. W przeciwieństwie do Orlitia borneensis, ten gatunek jest dość agresywny – mogą podrapać i boleśnie ugryźć. W Azji ł…


Last night I saw a tomistoma try to climb a tree. I guess it must have panicked a little when we approached with the spotlight and it started to climb up a very vertical tree trunk. This escape attempt actually worked, as I was so shocked to see it that I didn't even think about catching the croc until it fell off the tree and swam away.
Kahang and Daud from Yayasan Ulin arrived yesterday to help, so we now have a 'team' of crocodile catchers. And together with Kahang we managed to snare up another tomistoma last night. Sadly, not the tree-climbing one, but also quite a special croc as it's the worst smelling tomistoma I've ever handled. I'm not sure if it's because of the water at the point of capture or if it's a quality of this particular crocodile, but I've actually needed a shower after holding it, and this time it had nothing to do with stomach pumping.
There aren't many things in Mesangat that smell nice so we're constantly surrounded b…