If you haven’t read January 17 yet, you can do so here.

If you stumbled onto this post by accident and haven’t read any of the other stories, head over to this post to find out more about this project.

“This is where our sun bears spend their days. They have been hunted nearly to extinction because their bile is so valuable on the blackmarket.” Kara half listened to the tour guide as he droned on about the sunbears. She was just there for the photos. She aimed her camera at one of the sunbears, lazing in a tree, the light wasn’t quite right, but it would have to do. She’d gotten plenty of great photos of the orangutans before lunch. 

“Hi, I see you around the ship a lot.” Kara turned hearing a voice behind her. She knew no one on this particular tour. Lalannah had opted for a city tour of Kota Kinabalu; divide and conquer. 

“Oh yes.” Kara looked the woman up and down briefly, a little shorter than Kara, camera ready features. “I think I’ve seen you around the boat too.”

The woman nodded. “Are you some kind of photographer for the cruise line?” 

“Sort of.” Kara paused, considering her words carefully. “I’m in social media.”

“Oh like some kind of Instagram model or something?” Kara laughed. 

“Yeah, kind of. I’m all the big platforms. Instagram, YouTube, Twitter. Mostly the first two though.”

“Wow, what’s your name? I’ll go follow you once we’re back on the ship.”

“I’m Kara.” Rather than go through her names, she pulled a card from her camera bag and handed it to the woman. “You can just scan this QR code and it’ll take you to me.”

“Gabi,” the woman told her.

“Well, nice to meet you, Gabi.”

“You too. This whole tour thing is not really what I was expecting.” Kara snapped a couple more photos.

“Yeah, I’m starting to wish I’d gone on the city tour.”

“At least we have two days here. I’m doing the island tour tomorrow. Just me, a book, the sun, and maybe some snorkelling.”

“I’m on that one too. My friend did the city tour, we’ll have to compare notes.”

The woman named Gabi was silent for a moment. “The animals here are so beautiful. I never knew much about the sun bears. You should try to get the word out to people. Get them to try to help.”

Kara nodded. “Yeah. You wanna help me?” 

Gabi nodded. “How?”

“How about I record a little something to put on Instagram? You can hold the camera.”

“Oh, I can definitely do that. I have very steady hands.” Kara handed her phone over, much quicker for Instagram than the DSLR, plus it looked a little more raw. 

Kara began her spiel with only a vague idea of what she’d say, having only half listened to the tour guide.

“Hi guys, I’m here in Borneo today. We’re here at the sun bear conservation centre where they’re doing fantastic work to look after as many sunbears as possible. These guys are not only suffering from habitat destruction but they’re getting kidnapped and held in tiny cages where their bile is stolen and sold on the black market. It’s awful. Until today, I had no idea this was happening. So please, spread the word to your friends and family, and consider making a donation to one of the sun bear centres here.”

“Perfect,” Gabi told her.

“I’d do another take, but I think they’re ushering us onto the next centre. Some kind of monkeys.”

“Well, at least you have a friend now. Want help carrying some of that gear?” Kara smiled, Lalannah had been distracted for days, it was nice to have someone to talk to for a change. 

You can read January 19 here.

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