Matarombeo, or the jungle in all its glory

The last part of the story of our spring mission to Indonesia, which the Naturevolution team led with ecovolunteers and local partners to implement various conservation actions in the karsts of Konawe. After traversing the islands of Matarape Bay in search of a world without plastic (#utopia) and rich in coral reefs (#YesWeCan), we ended our mission with a survey of mangroves and an incursion into the most lost of worlds: the Matarombeo karst. Extracts.

Prospecting in mangroves

This was one of the objectives of the mission: to conduct a first survey in the mangroves of the rivers that flow from the Karst massif of Matarombeo, one of the water castles of the region, in order to identify suitable sites for the future scientific expedition Konawe 2018.

A few weeks ago, the presence of dugongs, herbivorous marine mammals found from Australia to the eastern side of Africa, which we thought we could find in the area, was confirmed by local fishermen (link to article in Indonesian). A thorough survey will be conducted during the expedition to gather as much information as possible on the presence of this iconic animal, which is seriously threatened by pollution from mines and plantations, as well as by fishing vessel traffic. Strong data on the distribution of the species at this location would provide a strong argument for the protection of the Konawe shoreline, as dugongs enjoy a high conservation status in Indonesia.

Discovery of the Matarombeo massif

Finally, and to the delight of all, our mission included a passage through the Matarombeo massif. Matarombeo is the inaccessible lost world ‘par excellence’ but that we all dream of discovering. Above all, it is the keystone of the conservation agenda for this vast region, as it is the most intact forest in southeast Sulawesi (and perhaps the entire island). Its dramatic relief is also likely to generate arguments in favour of protecting the massif as a national park.

Imagine the approach: nestled on a long canoe that runs close to the water, you go up the river in the middle of the night. Only the moon lights up the scene. On either side, gigantic plant constructions illuminated against the light suggest immense trees covered with lianas, where macaques and hydrosaurs sleep. The jungle in all its nocturnal splendor. The myths of our modern collective consciousness, from Malraux to Coppola to Conrad, wake up and whisper in your ears all the way.

Our mission (and we had accepted it!) : go to discover the rock paintings of the massif and install awareness panels there. A necessary sign, because although the place is very little visited (a nice euphemism), these exceptional paintings have recently been degraded by graffiti of the vulgar genre.

Ruprestrian paintings of the Matarombeo massif


Check out our previous articles on this mission: the first on plastic management, and the second on coral reef monitoring.

If you too dream of going on an adventure and working for the conservation of this lost world, you have the opportunity to join one of our eco-volunteer missions in Indonesia.
Recommended evening readings in the tent: Malraux’s La voie royale, and Conrad’s exceptional Au coeur des ténèbres ;-)

Establishment of awareness boards with the Mission's eco-volunteers

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