Almost All Creatures Great and Small, of Sabah, Borneo

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February 22nd 2012
Published: April 3rd 2012
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Kinabatangan River, Sepilok & Lok Kawi

Proboscis Monkey contemplates its snackProboscis Monkey contemplates its snackProboscis 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 childOrang-utan mother and childOrang-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 crocodileJuvenile estuarine crocodileJuvenile 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.

Additional photos below
Photos: 48, Displayed: 23


Orang-utan mother and childOrang-utan mother and child
Orang-utan mother and child

Eying the fruit on the feeding platform
Palm oil seedsPalm oil seeds
Palm oil seeds

Palm oil plantations provide jobs and money to many on Borneo, but at considerable ecological cost.
Buffy Fish OwlBuffy Fish Owl
Buffy Fish Owl

They only come out at night…
Tree frogTree frog
Tree frog

On the night trek
Leopard catLeopard cat
Leopard cat

The smallest of the ‘big cats’. We saw its eyes reflecting the torchlight from about 100m away. Remarkably, it didn’t run away.
Crane in flightCrane in flight
Crane in flight

High above the river

Spectacular bird with a strange stop-start manner of flying
The other boatThe other boat
The other boat

We hoped we didn’t miss something that they saw.

It's quite unusual to see one of these, apparently. We didn’t see any big crocs. Perhaps the otter knew the coast was clear.
Homo-sapien, LeoHomo-sapien, Leo
Homo-sapien, Leo

Our knowledgeable guide
A red-chested bird with a black head!A red-chested bird with a black head!
A red-chested bird with a black head!

Can anyone help us out here?!

20th August 2012

Perhaps you can visit the local food too
Perhaps you can spend more time at West Coast of Sabah where there are more adventures and fascinating things to check out. Stay out from city unless you're into tasty culinaries ;)

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