All posts filed under: Asian Mammals

Orangutan Pongo pymaeus Forest Reserve Sabah Borneo Malaysia

Orangutan – back to the wild

Wow, it really has been a fair while since my last update on the Easter trip to Borneo. A lot has happened in the meantime: I followed the footsteps of my wife and have started running the Perth Hills trails rather seriously, making me stronger, faster and lighter every day. Winter is the best time of the year to pick up outdoor activities as this – mild temperatures and refreshing rains make those lengthy runs bearable while the transformation of nature into one big flowering mass provides a real feast for the eyes. I promise to post some truly spectacular wildflowers photos on iAMsafari very soon as they are not to be missed. Another project that has kept us busy is the purchasing and gearing up of our own Toyota Landcruiser – an investment in hardware indispensable for the discovery of the Australian outback, just tested around the wilderness of Gnaraloo where we have been swimming with Loggerhead turtles in Ningaloo Reef  – so stay tuned for more indeed! Although I really would like to …

Slow Loris Danum Valley Sabah Borneo Malaysia

Slow Loris

Over the past couple of weeks we have showcased some remarkable animals on iAMsafari and today’s slow loris (Nycticebus menagensis) is definitely another one! With the Western Tarsier being the smallest primate of Borneo, the slow loris is second in line – with only 11 inches in length and a body weight of around 300 grams it’s certainly no giant. Apart from the fact these animals are small they live high in the forest’s canopy and are therefore very hard to spot – combined with extremely low population densities of around one individual per 12 km² one is actually very lucky to find one at all. The first slow loris we encountered near the Sepilok Rainforest Discovery Centre walked on a height of 25-30 metres, slowly but surely moving on a thick branch in search of insects, fruits and tree gum – a fair sighting at dusk from the centre’s canopy walk, and judging the enthusiasm of our guide we got the impression this had to be regarded as very special. But as on so …

Proboscis Monkey Kinabatangan Sabah Borneo Malaysia

Proboscis Monkey

“Sometimes a man may be as ugly as a monkey, and a monkey may have something very human about it; indeed, it is quite customary to call monkeys humanity’s caricatures. Of none this can be said with such truth as of the Borneo proboscis-monkey” – Eric Mjöberg, Forest Life and Adventures in the Malay Archipelago The proboscis or long-nosed monkey (Nasalis lavartus) is endemic to the jungles of Borneo, living close to rivers, tidal swamps and mangroves. It never ventures too far away from water and is rarely seen far inland – it might therefore not come as a surprise that they are proficient swimmers with evolved webbed feet and hands in order to outpace saltwater crocodiles. However, the species is highly arboreal and instead of swimming most prefer to cross water by impressive leaps – often followed by rather comical flat landings on their distinctive pot-belly. Proboscis monkeys are sexually dimorphic with males that have giant noses dwarfing those of the females and often hanging lower than their mouth. This fleshy appendage doesn’t give the proboscis …

Long-tailed Macaque Kinabatangan Sabah Borneo Malaysia

Long-tailed Macaque

When cruising the Kinabatangan river in search of wildlife it’s impossible to miss the numerous long-tailed Macaques (Macaca fascicularis). Found in a wide range of habitats including forests, mangroves, plantations and villages it is beyond doubt Southeast Asia’s most successful primate. Despite the fact this rather common species competes with more iconic primates such as the Orang Utang or the Proboscis Monkey on most bucket lists, the cheeky social interaction and inquisitive nature of the long-tailed Macaques deliver entertaining wildlife-watching almost guaranteed. They therefore could easily be considered the most reliable jungle animals for the boatsmen who try to deliver the best possible sightings to visiting tourists day in, day out!

Musang Common Palm Civet Danum Valley Sabah Borneo Malaysia

Common Palm Civet – Musang Pandan

As opposed to peninsular Malaysia and Sumatra, Borneo is not inhabited by tigers – the title of biggest predator therefore automatically goes to the Sunda Clouded Leopard (Neofelis diardi). This beautifully marbled cat is one of the trophy mammals when trekking in the forests, however, they are so rare and elusive a sighting would be highly unlikely. Apart from other rare felines as for example the endemic Bay Cat (Pardofelis Badia) or the Leopard Cat (Prionailurus bengalensis borneoensis), civet cats are more numerous and therefore easier to find – especially the Common Palm Civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus) can be seen more readily at night around the densely vegetated sides of gravel roads and forest paths. In this habitat the almost entirely frugivorous civet builds its day-bed and acts as a major seed-dispersal agent. On one of our night walks around the Danum Valley Field Centre we stumbled upon this individual sitting on a big vine right next to the trail. Instead of rushing off into the forest it seemed stunned by our presence (and torchlights) only …

Western Tarsier Horsfield's Tarsier Kinabatangan Sabah Borneo Malayia Primate

Western Tarsier – Five in One

“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 …

Borneo Pygmy Elephant Kinabatangang Sabah Malaysia

Borneo Pygmy Elephant

We are back from Borneo. Two fantastic weeks in Sabah have given us one of our best wildlife experiences ever – and this is no exaggeration. Big swaths of land in the northeastern corner of the island are still covered in primary rainforests. Estimated to be over 130 millions old these are some of the oldest rainforests on our planet – no wonder we encountered such a rich and intriguing biodiversity under and above its almost impenetrable canopy. Spotting its diverse inhabitants was by no means easy. With only 2% of the sunlight reaching the forest floor most life seems to be concentrated amid the leafy tops of the tall Dipterocarps, beyond our sight and hearing, while the fact that many mammals are nocturnal is another obstacle for easy wildlife viewing. Add the leeches, stifling humidity and 5.30 wake-up calls (sci-fi ringtones) and you’ll have a rough sketch of the efforts we made to meet the animals – photography in those challenging circumstances is another chapter. But still, we got so much more than we bargained …