Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Borneo Klias River Cruise: Monkey business after sunset

It definitely wasn't Christmas, but as we headed back up the Klias River in our boats, the trees on the bank seemed to be flickering with fairy lights.

"Fireflies," pronounced Thomas, our guide, and he directed the boatman to take us closer for a better view.

We couldn't see the fireflies themselves, but in the falling dusk it was easy to spot their lights, which twinkled on and off like those on a Christmas tree.

When the lights came on we were heading back to our holiday home, the expedition ship Orion II, at the end of a wildlife cruise through one of the last remaining mangrove wetlands in Borneo. After seeing proboscis monkeys, macaques, flying foxes, a monitor lizard and several birds, the fireflies were something of a bonus.

Our main hope, when our cruise started in the early afternoon, had been to see proboscis monkeys and that was achieved within a few minutes of leaving the small wharf in our long, lean riverboat.

We rounded a bend in the river to find a huge, fat, two-storey jerrybuilt craft, belching diesel smoke and loaded with jolly passengers seated at tables, pushed close to the bank.

Our lean machine slid easily inside the monster and we enjoyed a great view of a proboscis family enjoying their evening meal in an adjacent tree.

The dominant male - the massive nose that is his status symbol clearly silhouetted against the sky - sat at the top of the tree, munching on tender young leaves. From time to time, when he had eaten out one branch, he would lean over, grab another and pull it up to within easy picking distance.

His small harem of females, easily distinguished with their smaller, upturned noses, at least a couple of them with youngsters in tow, were dotted around the rest of the tree chewing with enthusiasm.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Borneo Klias River Cruise: Monkey business after sunset

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