“Our Simpalili, better known to us as Lili the Simp, was the best endurance flagpole sitter in all of North Borneo. He was brought to us from the jungle clinging to a long stick, and his expression of strained affability, and his determination not to leave his stick, always reminded me of the expressions and actions of human contestants in American endurance contests” – Agnes Newton Keith, Land Below the Wind
The variety of life in the Bornean rainforests is truly baffling. Especially the primates are well represented with for example the big-nosed Proboscis, the cheeky Macaque, agile Gibbon and the human-like Orang Utan, but although they are all fascinating in their own way, the Western Tarsier – the island’s smallest primate and mammal – was our favourite by far: just one look in its big eyes simply makes you want to cuddle this adorable prosimian.
During the day Western Tarsiers (Cephalopachus bancanus borneanus) sleep on the vines and creepers of the dense forest undergrowth – at nighttime they become active to forage on insects and small vertebrates while showing off their extraordinary leaping skills. Their body is perfectly designed for this hunting lifestyle with big owl’s eyes, bat’s ears, a long rat-like tail, a monkey’s body and the padded fingers of a frog – physical treats that give this tiny primate its otherworldly look and its apt nickname ‘Five-in-One’. The Western Tarsier is one of Borneo’s wildlife icons that features high on many a bucket list, however, as they’re small and nocturnal spotting meant hard work during the evening walks. After two sightings at the Kinabatangang Nature Lodge we started to take its presence almost for granted, only to find out later that some experienced guides had never managed to find them in the wild – we’re therefore still over the moon we managed to get that one excellent shot!