This morning I read a report on NST online that "The British Government is to undertake a scientific research project on climate change in the Danum Valley Conservation Area"
I know many of us do not know where Danum Valley is. I too did not know it until I was asked to organised a visit for the outgoing British Chief of Defence Force (CDF), Gen Bishop and his wife to Danum Valley back in 1991, when I was the 5 Infantry Brigade, Deputy Commander based at Lok Kawi, Kota Knabalu, Sabah.Apparently, Gen Bishop being an enthusiast for birds, knew of Danun Valley from other British naturalist that frequents the place.
When I received the tasked from Army HQ, non of my officers had an inkling as to where Danum Valley was, and yet we were stationed in Sabah. I quickly called the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Tourism Sabah, Mr Wilfred Lingham than, to find out, and he told me that it was in Lahad Datu. I got a topography map (the one's used by the Army) to locate exactly its location and to plan the route in for the RMAF helicopter.
Danum Valley Conservation Area is located about 70 km west of Lahad Datu. It is a 43,000 ha of virgin forest which has been gazetted by the Sabah state government for research purposes, and is managed by the Sabah Foundation (Yayasan Sabah).
In readiness of the visit of Gen Bishop, I had to positioned myself at Danum Valley ahead of the arrival of my visitor; to organised the landing point for the helicopter, prepare his itinerary, meal arrangement and place of accommodation. Upon arrival at Danum Valley, I was surprised to find out that the place being a research centre, had all the facilities needed for visiting dignitaries to stay, including hot shower. That made the whole lot easy for me.
The arrival of Gen Bishop caused a lot of excitement for the stuffs of the conversation centre, who wants to give their best for their distinguished visitors and the entourage. Knowing that Gen Bishop was a keen bird watcher, they organised a trip around the centre to catch a glimpse of birds in its natural habitat.
I observed that Gen Bishop had a book, and each time he catches a glimpse of a bird, he refers to the book, and explains to us details of the bird. It is amazing to watch a bird watcher at work, for it requires lots of patience to be looking up into the trees all the time.
The trip to Danum Valley had taught me one thing, that we as Army officers who frequents the jungle do not really appreciate nature......God's worthy present to mankind.