Animal Management students from Wiltshire College made a lasting impression on locals after completing a river clearing project in Borneo.
The Level 3 students and one degree student from the Lackham campus spent two days clearing rapidly growing water hyacinth from the Kinabatangan river, which is causing it to get narrower and have an effect on wildlife.
Ollie Ellis, an Animal Management lecturer, who accompanied students on the trip, said: “The river people are a little sceptical about the benefits of tourism and so this was a fantastic project for us to show how much we can help.
“The water hyacinth grows at a real pace which is taking the oxygen out of the river.
“This has a detrimental effect on anything living in it but also eventually this would cause flooding.
“We cleared as much as we could and put it on the banks where it breaks down, acts as a fertiliser and the roots are eaten by the monkeys so nothing is wasted.
“The temperatures were high and it was very humid so we were really pleased at how hard all the students worked.”
During the 10-day trip, students also had the opportunity to visit a Sun Bear rescue and rehabilitation centre, orang-utan sanctuary and plant native trees in the rainforest.
All said the variety of wildlife they got to see made it an unforgettable trip.
Ethan Donovan described Borneo as his dream holiday.
The 18-year-old student from Corsham, who first started at Wiltshire College as a pre-16 student and has progressed through Levels 1 and 2, said: “I enjoyed everything about this trip!
“The orang-utan sanctuary was brilliant and seeing them interact in their own environment.
“I love taking photographs and took lots of different birds and wildlife.
“I am one of the only students to get a picture of a Bornean Bristlehead – even two of our guides had never seen one!”
Chelsea Bryar, is a second year Level 3 student.
The 17-year-old from Trowbridge said: “I definitely found it quite tough to start in the heat and we did a lot of hiking, but I enjoyed it so much as it’s like nothing else I have ever done before.
“I really liked spending so much time with everyone including first year students and there was one university student.
“We were together a lot and there was a good atmosphere.
“I also tried different foods that I’d never had before and loved learning about a different culture.
“One of my favourite parts of the trip was the river cruise as I saw lizards and elephants, which have been my favourite animal since I was very young.”
The trip was organised in conjunction with Schools Worldwide, which specialises in bespoke trips.
Ollie said: “The trip is so valuable for our students to see how wonderful other cultures are and how wonderful the people were.
“We saw everyone who went grow on a personal level.
“It was an amazing opportunity for them and us for experiences such as sitting around the fireplace underneath flying red squirrels, finding pigmy elephants and seeing 12 wild orang-utans.
“We also want to thank Lindsay from Schools Worldwide, who gave us an unforgettable trip.
“Just before were went there had been flash flooding and it meant that we weren’t able to do some of the things we originally planned but she made a contingency plan and organised for us to do a sunrise tour which was fantastic.”