Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

FINDING EDEN: A Journey Into the Heart of Borneo

FINDING EDEN: A Journey Into the Heart of Borneo
14 Feb
2018
by Robin Hanbury-Tenison • IB Tauris • £17.99 (hardback)

Possibly the closest comparison to Robin Hanbury-Tenison’s opening chapter, where he describes his historic first journey into the ‘Garden of Eden’ in August 1977, comes from the world of fiction: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World. It requires constant reminders that this is instead a non-fiction account of a genuine expedition, passing through the previously-unexplored Deer Cave of Gunung Mulu National Park in Sarawak, Borneo, to a place previously untouched by human footsteps. ‘I realised that I was in a profoundly privileged position,’ he writes. ‘How many people get the chance to go somewhere no one has ever been before?’

This is a somewhat unusual book, divided as it is into, firstly, an in-depth commentary of the scientific RGS Mulu (Sarawak) expedition of 1977-78, then essentially a large appendix revealing Hanbury-Tenison’s raw diary entries during the expedition, and, finally, a reflective look back at his various return visits to Mulu, and how it has changed over the past four decades. Most poignantly, he is even able to reconnect with Nyapun, an indigenous Penan hunter-gatherer who had dramatically emerged from the rainforest during the original expedition, his entire nomadic family in tow. Hanbury-Tenison’s very open and self-critical thoughts regarding the fate of the nomadic communities who once populated this part of the world, as evidenced through his conversation with Nyapun, show a deep awareness of his own role in shaping the history of this unique location.

As becomes strikingly clear, Nyapun’s life has coincided with the most unimaginably tumultuous period of change for Mulu. ‘Eden’ is all but gone, as the impact of heavy deforestation has taken its toll, while Nyapun and the Penan have overwhelmingly abandoned nomadism in favour of a more static, Western lifestyle. ‘We came to Mulu at the end of a golden age,’ writes Hanbury-Tenison. ‘We were so lucky to be there just then.’

The vivid pictures he paints of a world that has almost disappeared leave a deep sense of melancholy, albeit one tinged with faint optimism that, maybe, just maybe, this unique landscape could still be saved, if only local tribal people were again allowed to manage the forests as they previously did for millennia.

Click here to purchase Finding Eden: A Journey into the Heart of Borneo on Amazon

Subscribe and Save!

geo line break v3

Free eBooks - Geographical Newsletter

Sign up for our weekly newsletter today and get a FREE eBook collection!

geo line break v3

University of Winchester

geo line break v3

EDUCATION PARTNERS

Aberystwyth University University of Greenwich The University of Derby

TRAVEL PARTNERS

Ponant

Silversea

Travel the Unknown

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in REVIEWS...

Exhibitions

From 12 July through to 10 November, the Fondation Cartier…

Reviews

A relaxed podcast, in which actor David Oakes interviews professionals…

Exhibitions

Exploring ideas of identity, heritage and life after trauma, Bahith…

Books

by Alex Rogers • Wildfire • £20 (hardback)

Films

An ‘environmental thriller’ focusing on the lives of campaigners working…

Exhibitions

The Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition is open to visitors…

Films

In this moving, sometimes harrowing film from director Anthony Woodley,…

Films

A brutal, hard-hitting coming-of-age tale that doesn’t hold its punches

Books

by Peter Martell • Hurst • £25 (hardback)

Books

by Dan Richards • Canongate • £19.99 (paperback)

Books

by Jeremy Purseglove • Profile Books • £14.99 (hardback/eBook)

Books

by Peter Hessler • Profile Books • £25 (hardback/eBook)

Books

by Thomas Lockley and Geoffrey Girard • Little, Brown • £20 (hardback/eBook)

Books

by Robert Macfarlane • Hamish Hamilton • £20 (hardback/eBook)

Exhibitions

An exhibition at the V&A brings together innovations from across…

Books

Dead in the Water edited by Bruce Shoemakers and William…

Films

A brutally realistic film about a cruel and pointless confrontation

Books

by Mike Berners-Lee • Cambridge University Press • £9.99 (paperback)

Films

In our attempt to control the natural world, humans have…

Books

by Sudipta Sen • Yale University Press • £20 (hardback)