Ants, leeches, moths and the value of nature

PUBLISHED : Monday, 10 October, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 10 October, 2005, 12:00am

Amy Leung Wai-ting spent the summer exploring Borneo's rainforests. She brought back with her a newfound respect for nature and a determination to help protect the Earth's resources.

The 16-year-old student from Heep Yunn School took part in an environmental education programme called ABU Voyage to the Future, organised by the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU).

She was one of 23 teenagers aged 12 to 16 who explored, rafted and camped in the jungle from July 23 to August 1.

Her fellow adventurers were from Hong Kong, China, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, Bhutan and Uzbekistan.

With the theme 'The Ecosystem of the Rain Forest', the trip aimed to raise the students' awareness of the importance of natural heritage.

It also aimed to instil in them a sense of responsibility for the environment.

Amy describes the trip as the most strenuous, yet worthwhile, two weeks of her life.

She said she gained a better understanding of the environment.

She also enjoyed meeting students from different backgrounds. But she cannot say the same about some of the creepy-crawlies in the jungle.

On a trek through Sepilok forest, the students came across a lot of blood-sucking leeches.

Amy said she kept her eye on any exposed skin and checked her body regularly for 'invaders'.

She also recalled how, one night, she shared her bed with a nest of ants.

'By the end of the trip, I was brave enough to pretend that the lizards, grasshoppers and moths were not there when I took my cold-water baths,' she said.

Despite the hardships, the trip has helped her develop a love of nature and a sense of responsibility to protect it.

'I've realised that the tropical rainforests of the world are disappearing, giving way to the intense demand for land to house the world's growing population,' she said.

'We can't abandon the whole economy in the name of environmental protection as people have to make a living. Sustainable development is the only realistic solution.'

Similar programmes will be held by ABU in 2007 and 2009, with the themes of deserts and oceans, respectively.

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