Setting camp in the forests of Mount Dako

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by Kevin Rowe
Publish date
27 February 2013
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Kevin is our Senior Curator of Mammals. He investigates the systematics, evolution and conservation biology of mammals with a particular interest in rodents.

Greetings from the province of Sulawesi Tengah (Central Sulawesi). Last Friday (22 Feb), my colleague, Anang S. Achmadi, and I returned to the city of Palu. Over the past week we hiked into forests around Mount Sojol and Mount Dako along the western coast of the northern peninsula of Sulawesi.

river in Sulawesi Kuala Besar river east of Malannga Selatan in the foothills of Mount Dako. Our low camp is set along this river.
Image: Kevin Rowe
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Our hike into Mount Sojol led us to exceptional lowland rainforest in the river valley, but we were uncertain about where we would set a high camp along the steep slopes of the mountain. After three days of hiking into the forests around Mount Dako, near the city of Toli Toli, we found a low camp in lowland rainforest along the river, Kuala Besar, at 300 metres elevation. We also found a high camp on the Mount Dako plateau at 1600 metres. The vast plateau stretching for several kilometers north and east of Mount Dako is covered in old growth rainforest.

Lowland rainforest in Sulawesi Lowland rainforest near 1000 metres on the trail up to our high elevation camp Mount Dako plateau.
Image: Kevin Rowe
Source: Museum Victoria
 

sky and mountains in Sulawesi The view west towards Toli Toli Bay from the trail up Mount Dako at near 700 metres elevation.
Image: Kevin Rowe
Source: Museum Victoria
 

We returned to Toli Toli on Sunday after collecting supplies and the rest of our field team. We are now a party of ten, including scientists and students from Museum Victoria, Museum Zoologicum Bogoriense, Padang University in Sumatra, the University of California, Berkeley, and McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada. On Monday, we reported to the local police and purchased food and supplies from the Pasar (market).

Three guides in Sulawesi Our guides on our third day of hiking around Mount Dako. Left to right: Heri, Jamudin and Madi.
Image: Kevin Rowe
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Field team in Palu Part of our assembled team in Palu, Sulawesi Tengah, before heading to Toli Toli and our hike into camp. Left to right: Jake Esselstyn (McMaster University), Karen Rowe (Museum Victoria), Jim Patton (UC Berkeley), Carol Patton (UC Berkeley), and Wayne Longmore (Museum Victoria).
Image: Kevin Rowe
Source: Museum Victoria
 

On Tuesday, we met in the village of Malangga Selatan that is the last village before the western foothills of Mount Dako. Assisted by the strength of 60 local men we began the hike from the village at 200 metres into our camps. The team at low elevation reached their camp at 400 metres by Tuesday evening. To reach the high camp, we climbed all day to reach 1200 metres elevation and stopped for the night on the only patch of flat ground before the plateau. On Wednesday, we continued climbing for several more hours to reach our camp on the plateau at 1600 metres elevation. We will remain in camp until 16 March when we will hike back down to the village. Over the next 18 days we will document all the birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians we encounter.


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