Monday, September 07, 2015

Borneo – Where the Wild Things are

Back when I started diving in March my friend who had accompanied me to Koh Tao was amazed by my sudden interest in the marine life.

Apparently I have a short attention span in all other things so the idea that I would stare at fish for hours at a time and not get bored was beyond her.

And while diving takes a bit more than just staring at fish, I guess it was a puzzling development considering that I have no patience whatsoever and wildlife watching of any kind needs exactly that.

However, when I first got to Borneo in July it seemed that my wildlife interests were purely reserved for underwater creatures.

Many of my fellow travelers in my Intrepid group had specifically come to see orangutans, I only came with instructions to take pictures for my friend who loves all kinds monkeys, but with no real interest in them myself.

That changed when I was at Japamala Resort on Tioman island and got visited by a group of monkeys during an impromptu yoga session on my patio.

They were cute and cheeky and I was mesmerized. Upon arrival in Kota Kinabalu, the capital of the state of Sabah, things only got better. Borneo is full of ‘real’ jungle with real animals and home to 22 endemic mammal species and over 6,000 endemic plants.

Within our first days, we stumbled over big and small lizards, bat families, butterflies, and creepy crawlies.

I will spare you the picture of an albino cockroach, but I may or may not have carried a kitten through the jungle. And even all of that was just the beginning…

The Kinabatangan River in northeast Sabah is known for its inhabitants on and off shore and a perfect spot for river safaris.

The one thing one cannot find in Borneo are giraffes, my favorite animals, and so I settled on the second best thing to make the top of my wish list: elephants.

Or better said, the Bornean Pygmy elephant. They are however rare, so I was told to curb my enthusiasm and settle instead for Silver Leaf and Proboscis monkeys, macaques, and hornbills.

We saw all of those and much more, including snakes lazing in the trees and a crocodile which charged at our tiny boat.

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