Edit Blog Post
Published: December 6th 2006
A mature male Orang utan
We observed this magnificent guy IN THE WILD - not at a rehabilitation center. Trace and I spent a couple of hours watching him. One of those special afternoons in life.
Mat: After two amazing weeks we finally have time for some communication (we are in Kuta Kinabalu again). Luckily enough we have not had much time to spend in internet cafes, and in fact have been away from any computers for most of the time. This is the first of three blogs to explain what we have been up to in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo: 1) The Kinabatangan river, 2) Diving around the world famous Sipadan Island, and 3) Climbing the 4095m Mount Kinabalu (I am happy to be sitting in front of a computer because my legs are cripped after 2 days of going straight up, then straight down).
That said, I have just spent a while loading photos because I think they speak loader than words about the wildlife we saw in the jungle near the Kinabatangan river. It is now 12pm and we are leaving on a ferry for Brunei tomorrow at 7.30am - so I had better keep this brief, and might only be able to get the Kinabatangan blog done.
On the 22nd of December we left KK to head towards Sandakan from where we intended to head out to stay on an island that
is used by turtles as a breeding ground. It looked idyllic, but was bloody expensive, so we stayed at "Uncle Tan's" guesthouse in Gum Gum, 20kms west of Sandakan. Uncle Tan (who passed away a few years ago set up the first jungle camp/safari type organisation on the Sugai Kinabatangan. I was slightly apprehensive about heading out with an operator that is so well known in Sabah, as, like many travellers, I want to have the illusion that I am not treading in the footsteps of thousands of backpackers before me. Our experience with Uncle Tan's was however amazing. If you are interested in wildlife I can not rave about it enough. IT WAS FANTASTIC.
Uncle Tan's son "Eugene" runs the business now and he was there while we were. I probably chatted with him for 3 or 4 hours or so over the course of the 4 days we were at Uncle Tan's camp on the banks of the Kinabatangan river, and have no doubt that he is a genuinely good man, as are the young guys who act as guides at the camp. "Lan" who runs the camp is both extremely hard case, and very knowledgeable about
all things floral and faunal.
The accomodation was basic but practical and clean, and there was only a bucket of river water for a shower - which I loved. The huts were open but meshed to stop the long-tailed macaques stealing gear!
Each day we were able to head out on a:
6.30-8am boat safari
Guided morning walk 10.30-12.30ish
5-6pm afternoon boat safari
9pm night boat spotlighting safari or guided night walk
In the 4 days we were there I went on everything, and Trace only missed one trip from memory. To be able to head out on one of these trips knowing that you would most likely see an animal you had never seen before was awesome.
For 3 nights and 4 days of bliss it cost us RM330 (NZ$150) including food and everything else.
As you can see from my photos there were animals everywhere if you took time to look and get out there. There were many animals that we saw but did not have a chance to photograph.
The reason the jungle along the Kinabatangan is so rich with wildlife is somewhat ironic. All around the 7 pockets of jungle
A female proboscis monkey
along the Kinabatangan are palm plantations. This has forced animals away from this barren artificial monoculture into the protected areas of jungle along the Kinabatangan. One way in which Eugene and the boys assist in conservation in the area is to collect the seedlings that the WWF needs to plant "corridors of life" between the 7 pockets of jungle along the river. Apparently there are plently of tourists willing to buy a seedling to plant (who doesn't want to plant a tree) but a shortage of seedlings themelves! They volunteer their time to do this, they get no money for collecting and growing the seedlings.
I'm off to bed, I have left out lots I am sure but you get the rough idea.
See ya, until the next episode: "Diving Sipidan with our second Bornean uncle".
Mat and Trace
Tot: 0.039s; Tpl: 0.021s; cc: 11; qc: 21; dbt: 0.0083s; 1; m:saturn w:www (22.214.171.124); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.2mb