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Published: April 3rd 2012
Proboscis Monkey contemplates its snack
Lok Kawi Wildlife Park. These monkeys are endemic to Borneo.
A fair portion of our time in any foreign land is spent seeking out experiences that can’t be enjoyed back home. Strange food and drink; different cultures; warm water for swimming and diving; ancient temples and monuments; bizarre vegetation and not least, animals that are either rare, or scare.
Scientists and wildlife photographers dedicate their lives to various different creatures. We turn up in the jungle for a few days and hope to see as many as possible before going home for a proper shower.
So it was at Uncle Tan Wildlife Adventure on the Kinabatangan River in eastern Sabah. We spent two nights and three days at Uncle Tan’s jungle camp, taking part in eerie boat trips long after sunset, and bleary-eyed ones soon after sunrise; night-time walks with flashlights and mosquitoes, and daytime treks in squelchy mud.
Sadly, much of Borneo is now palm oil plantation. Thankfully, there are numerous national parks and other groups who see the value in natural habitats. The Uncle Tan team do sterling conservation and regrowth work along the banks of the Kinabatangan River. They are slowly creating an ecological corridor to unite isolated pockets of preserved land, through growing trees
Orang-utan mother and child
At Sepilok Orang-utan Rehabilitation Centre
and plants that had almost disappeared from the area.
Our guide was not only adept at spotting numerous creatures, great and small, he also excelled at giving us their scientific names. Which makes it all the more pathetic that we cannot recall what he was called. Have a look through the photos and see the ones we managed to capture with the camera.
Sadly, we couldn’t be certain that we saw Borneo’s most iconic resident, the orang-utan. An unidentifiable silhouette disappearing into the canopy was the closest we came, in the wild at least. So you’ll forgive us, we hope, if we also share with you some pictures taken at the feeding platform at the nearby Sepilok Orang-utan Rehabilitation Centre.
At Sepilok, orphaned or distressed orang-utans rescued from poachers and plantations are gradually reintroduced into the wild. These great apes are one of our closest relations, and like us, spend many formative years living with and learning from their mothers. So separation from mother can have fatal consequences for young orang-utans. The feeding platform is last step on the path to complete rehabilitation and restoration to the wild. Behind it lies jungle, and once released, orang-utans return
Juvenile estuarine crocodile
They can grow to over 5m long. Although this one was only 50cm long, it could probably still take a finger or two.
to the platform with decreasing frequency as they adapt to life in the wild.
For good measure, we’ve thrown in some from Lok Kawi Wildlife Park too. We can’t claim that these creatures are in the wild, but we were glad that almost all had healthy enclosures.
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