Monday, July 1, 2013

Borneo Blog: Sepilok

And here's a brief telling of my time in Sepilok; a remnant tract of primary forest surrounded by thousands of hectares of palm-oil plantations. Indeed, as you drive east from KK, there is little else but palm-oil. Malaysia produces most of the world's palm-oil, and Sabah produces much of Malaysia's stock (and this is growing everyday, as many residents tell me the government's figures are huge underestimates). While economic development in this part of the world, is encouraging, it is extremely sad to see Borneo's famous jungles devastated and fragmented in this manner. It does seem that local and national bodies have realized the potential negative impact this can have on tourism (which is largely of the ECO variety here in Borneo), as well as the dangers of planting a monoculture. The oil-palm is an African species, and grows well in SE Asia because of the lack of natural pests etc. One day however, if an outbreak of disease occurred, it could potentially lay waste to the entire industry, much like the pine beetle in BC.

SO anyway, Sepilok is a small village on the main highway, but it's one of the easiest ways to access some of the remaining native forest in Sabah, plus it's the most famous place in the world to see Orangutans!

And here's one now. The Sepilok Orangutan sanctuary is home to many "rescued" animals, that had to be rehabilitated for life in the wild. Apparently there are truly wild apes in the area as well, and this could be one (according to one of the interpreters).
As you cans see however, these places can be a bit of a zoo (of people), and I must admit that the experience was not very enjoyable. Luckily I was able to marvel at one of the ginger-haired apes earlier in the morning, before the crowds, as it casually swung from tree to tree, like a lazy Tarzan.
I didn't realize that my camera was all fogged up from the humidity. Anyway, here we see one of the park rangers feeding some of the resident Orangs (or "Mias") some bananas.
Pig-tailed Macaques also like to join in. This guy was taking a break on one of the climbing ropes.
On our first visit to Sepilok, we stayed in some hostel rooms in a jungle resort. Since our room lacked A/C, we pretty much hung by the pool all day. In the mornings I went birding. The roads are lined with plenty of mistletoe-infested trees so I added several flowerpeckers to the lifelist, some sunbirds, and my first spiderhunters! If you're wondering why I took a picture of a hole in the ground, that's because this is a HOODED PITTA nest! (4 nestlings).
Not too far from the orangutan reserve is the "Rainforest Discovery Centre." As a relatively newbie to rainforest canopy walkways, I was definitely in birder-heaven. I sneaked in early in the morning and saw loads of lifers including several Malkoha species (colourful cuckoos), a few new bulbuls, and my first piculet (mini-woodpecker)--a Rufous Piculet. The stand-out highlight for me was just one of those AMAZING birding moments: There I was, admiring a pair of BORNEAN BRISTLEHEADS (why didn't I have my camera)... these birds are rare and crazy-looking in their own right. The fact that I was watching them at eye-level (from a canopy tower) was special enough. But then I heard a loud scream and squawk, that echoed through the forest, and from behind my head flew 3 RHINOCEROS HORNBILLS in all their glory. Double-lifer action and epic birds at that!!! Cherry on top was a RACKET-TAILED DRONGO that thought he'd add to the splendor of the situation by dive-bombing the male hornbill. 3 of the world's coolest birds at one time!
Here's Jess with a large tree.
And here's Jess with a giant isopod. Everything's big in Borneo!
The ever-curious Pig-tailed Macaque
That's right; another brilliant bird photo from RC. This is a cool bird though--my first RED-BEARDED BEE-EATERS!
Thanks to the canopy walkway, I get to look DOWN on this male DIARD'S TROGON
This was a nice one to find, as they can be tough to see in Borneo. This is the RUFOUS-COLLARED KINGFISHER. A forest-specialist that mostly feeds on lizards. 
After missing them in Australia, it was also neat to be in a place where LARGE-TAILED NIGHTJARS are extremely abundant to the point where they keep you up at night... TOK-TOK-TOK-TOK-TOK! It never stops!

1 comment:

  1. As you cans see however, these places can be a bit of a zoo (of people), and I must admit that the experience was not very enjoyable.evergreens