Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Borneo part III - Mammals at Mulu

Our next point of interest was Gunung Mulu National Park. Arriving in the afternoon, we were transported to Benarat Lodge where we would spend a few nights as a base to explore the park before travelling the head-hunter’s trail to Limbang.

After being assured that the river flowing past our accommodation was free from crocodiles (phew!) and false gharials (damn!), we plunged into the cool water for a swim. As we floated in the current, keeping an eye out for the longboats that travelled the river, we could hear a repetitive barking call from the limestone cliff that overhung the water. We spent some time searching with binoculars for the source (monkeys? birds?) to no avail, and were later told that it’s a huge gecko. Guides would often tell us a story about this species (which we later found to be the Green-eyed Gecko, Gekko smithii): that a large individual would be worth many thousands of dollars on the black market for the ‘medicinal’ (think men’s problems again) properties of the gall bladder, and that poaching was not unknown.

As evening and a light drizzle fell, we donned our torches and began the walk to the National Park. We hadn't walked far before George spotted some eyeshine that got him very excited – it was the eyeshine of a smallish mammal that was clinging to a slim tree-trunk at about head-height. George turned to me and exclaimed “Dave – I think I've just spotted a Tarsier!”

Western Tarsier

Monday, January 7, 2013

Borneo Part II: Bako National Park

There are places in Borneo where the visitor is rewarded for trekking for long hours through the jungle, using his or her skills and know-how and enduring discomfort in the pursuit of animal sightings. Then there are places, like Bako National Park, where the wildlife just makes it all too easy.

Arriving at Bako felt like an adventure, being deposited on the beach after a scenic small boat ride. Shoes in hand, we walked up the sand to the dining hall where we met some fellow Aussie ‘herpers’ who had been there for a couple of days already and who proceeded to take us on a little tour of the nearby area.

Colugo (Flying Lemur)

This is how, just a few minutes after landing, we saw our first Colugo.