Primates on the Kinbatangan

The Kinabatangan River is home to ten species of Primate, one of only two places where this many species live together. Sadly while there I did not see all of those species but I did have the pleasure to see the wonderful and unique Bornean Orangutan which is very difficult to see in the wild, but on the Kinabatangan it is possible. Other notable species are the endemic Proboscis Monkey, Silver Leaf monkey and also the Red Leaf monkey. 

Wild Bornean Orangutan

A trip along the river in the morning often brought with it sightings of several species of primate but the best time to see them was always in the evening as they returned to the trees along the river to find somewhere to sleep. They usually head into the forest during the day and return before dark. The river gives some escape options if there is a predator in the trees but I'm not sure jumping into crocodile filled waters is my idea of a great escape plan. 

Long-tailed Macaque 

Long-tailed Macaque 

Something which is commonly seen on the smaller tributaries off the Kinabatangan are the rope bridges designed to allow Orangutans to cross the river. The Orangutans are unlike other primates and are unable to jump which necessitates the building of these bridges to help them move between the fragmented patches of forest along the river. Although the other primates are capable of jumping between trees they often take the easier option and use these bridges too. This can lead to comical balancing acts on the high wire above the river.

Silver Leaf Monkey

Male Proboscis Monkey crossing an Orangutan Bridge

Despite the fragmented forests the primates appear to be surviving and adapting to life along the river. This can be seen in recent camera trap photos on Mongabay which show numerous species caught on camera. Hopefully the reamaining forests can be protected and increased to provide corridors between fragmented sections to ensure the animals survival along the river. 

A Silver Leaf Monkey meets a large male Proboscis Monkey on an Orangutan Bridge

The fruit from the Oil Palm trees being transported from the plantations along the Kinabatangan

Bornean Orangutan

More photos from the Kinabatangan can be found in the Kinabatangan Gallery page.

Bornean Pygmy Elephants

I have recently spent 5 weeks at the award winning Sukau Rainforest Lodge on the Kinabatangan river. The lodge itself is beautiful with 20 rooms which are named after guests who have contributed significantly to the conservation of the Lower Kinabatangan region. The most notable for me was Sir David Attenborough but sadly didn't get to stay in the room named after him, although got to ride around in the boat that was named after him.  

Most of the wildlife spotting is done from boats on the river there which makes photography a challenge with tripods being almost useless so finding good light is essential. Trips were usually at 6 in the morning and at 4 in the evening, the most active time for the wildlife along the river with the morning being better for birds and the evening good for monkeys as they return to the trees by the river where they will spend the night. 

The most popular sighting on anyones wish list was usually the Bornean Pygmy Elephant a sub-species which is endemic to Borneo. They can grow up to 2.5 metres with the Asian Elephant growing up to 3 metres. They also have larger ears and longer tails too with the tails almost reaching the ground. 

Bornean Pygmy Elephants on the banks of the Kinabatangan river.

Two Elephants square off on the banks of the Kinabatangan.

The Elephants habit is sadly fragmented along the Kinabatangan so conflict between humans and elephants is common but hopefully initiatives such as the Kinabatangan Corridor of Life will hopefully reforest areas along the banks of the Kinabatangan which now have palm oil plantations reaching right to the water. Palm Oil platations are everywhere and it is a depressing sight to see them stretch for miles once you leave the small corridor of forest along the river.

A young elephant stand on its mother.

A young elephant playing in the mud on the banks of the Tenegang tributary.

Two elephants play around in the waters of the Kinabatangan.

Grazing Elephants.

A baby elephant with its mother.

It is definitely a special moment when you spot the elephants but sadly word spreads quickly and the boats start arriving en masse which can be a little concerning especially when some of the boat men start to get too close, however the guides at Sukau Rainforest Lodge were usually respectful and kept a distance. This is more difficult in the smaller rivers where you can get boxed in by approaching boats and it can become a little bit of a circus. 

Some of the elephants have tracking collars so the wildlife department can track their movements.

The elephants love to cool down in the river.

An elephant sprays itself with water.

A large group of elephants on the banks of the Kinabatangan.

The largest group of elephants I saw numbered around 30 with many more in the forest behind which you could hear trumpeting, the sound echoing through the trees and across the river. Such a special sight is one I will not forget and definitely a highlight from my stay at Sukau. 

Thanks to all the staff at Sukau Rainforest Lodge and Borneo Eco Tours for the wonderful experience.

I will post more photos from my time there soon.....

Mount Kinabalu National Park

Mount Kinabalu is an amazing sight jutting out of the landscape reaching to 4095 meters, but below this impressive mountain is a beautiful national park which attracts many people for its unique flora and fauna.  It is a popular area especially for birding and while there I managed to see some of the more impressive birds such as Whitheads Trogon and Whiteheads Spiderhunter both of which are endemic to Borneo and more specifically the montane regions including Mount Kinabalu national park.

Here are some photos taken around Kinabalu National Park in Sabah. I have been falling behind in posting images due to being busy taking more and dealing with poor internet connections but will hopefully try to get some up over the next couple of days. 

Whitehead's Trogon found in Kinabalu National Park.

Chesnut-Crested Yuhina, another montane endemic to Borneo.

White-Throated Fantail.

Fantail with Moth.

Hair-Crested Drongo.

Ashy Drongo.

The Fantail and the Drongos were common visitors to the deck of Kinabaulu Mountain Lodge where I was staying, snatching up the countless moths which are attracted to the lights at night and cover the windows in the morning.

Bornean Treepies in Kinabalu National Park, another endemic bird common at the park.

Black-Capped White-Eye.

Chesnut-Hooded Laughing-Thrush, another endemic bird of Borneo.

After Dark

It's when the sun goes down that the nocturnal animals come out and are more visable. Here are a selection of images taken at night in Ulu Temburong National Park.

A type of Dwarf Litter Frog who's sound belies its tiny size.

It uses vocal sacs to make its impressive sound.

A common sight along the stream was the Black-Spotted Rock Frog.

A Peat Swamp Frog in the stream at Ulu Temburong.

It's not just frogs that are more visable at night, the spiders glitter from afar as their eyes catch your torch light.

A tarantula at the mouth of its burrow.

Bornean Angle-Headed Lizard asleep on a branch above the stream.

Closeup on the head of the Bornean Angle-Headed Lizard.

A Flying Lizard asleep on a branch where it can easily escape predators if needed.

A White Lipped Frog.

A type of Rock Frog.

A Slender Toad perched beside the stream.

Closeup showing the amazing eye of a slender toad.

File-Eared Tree Frog.

The unique Bornean Horned Frog.

More from Ulu Temburong

Staying at Ulu Ulu in Ulu Temburong National Park afforded me the opportunity to see a large number of birds and other wildlife, not all of which frequented the canopy. Here are some photos of the birds and other creatures found around the resort.

Whiskered Treeswift with puffed up feathers.

The Dusky Munia an endemic bird of Borneo.

A female Asian Paradise Flycatcher is not as spectacular as the male but still a beautiful bird.

Red Naped Trogon.

A young Flowerpecker dazed after flying into a window.

Thankfully it managed to fly back to a tree and seemed to be ok.

Pacific Swallow swooping down at Long Tailed Macaw

Long-Tailed Macaque on the bridge cables

Yellow-Eared Spiderhunter.

Flying Lizard moments after it landed sadly not moments before.

Green Crested Lizard.

The same Green Crested Lizard after it had turned brown.

One of the streams downriver a little from Ulu Ulu.

The stream above was also the location of most of the nightwalks I went on and I will post photos from those in the next blog post.

Ulu Temburong

I had the privilege to spend 6 weeks in Ulu Temburong National park at the Ulu Ulu resort helping out taking photos and doing a visual survey of the birds we saw while there. The highlight for me was the Canopy Walkway which is a large scaffolding tower built on a ridge in the forest with towers peeking out through the canopy to give breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. 

The view from the Canopy Walkway at Ulu Temburong National Park in Brunei.

The trek up the hundreds of steps to the tower and then up the tower itself was always worth it even at 5 in the morning for sunrise.

Sunrise at Ulu Temburong National Park.

The Canopy Walkway was also a great place to see amazing wildlife such as the Bornean Gibbon and some of the numerous birds which frequent the Canopy.

Bornean Gibbon at sunrise.

A Bornean Gibbon in the treetops of Ulu Temburong.

A gibbon hanging around in the canopy of Ulu Temburong.

Up in the canopy there are a huge variety of birds. I photographed many of them, some of which i will post below. 

A Rhinoceros Hornbill flies between trees.

A large group of Rhinoceros Hornbills.

Black and Yellow Broadbill.

Yellow Crowned Barbet.

Lesser Green Leafbird.

It was not only birds that were visible in the canopy but other animals were also present.

Giant Squirrel.

Flying Lizard.

Twin Barred Tree Snake.

Prevost's Squirrel.

View from the Canopy Walkway in Ulu Temburong.

The images above all come from the canopy but there was also plenty of wildlife below the canopy. Those images I will leave for the next post.

Back in Borneo

I'm currently back in Borneo and have been for the past few weeks. It's an amazing place and I'm looking forward to exploring more of it in the coming weeks but for now I just want to post a few photos from the trip so far.

Red Headed (Ashy) Tailorbird photographed in the Kota Kinabalu Wetland Centre.

Little Egret flying into the KK Wetland Centre.

Cattle Egret seen on the wall outside the KK Wetland Centre.

Beautiful sun setting behind the Santubong peninsula seen from Bako National Park.

Young Proboscis Monkeys playing around up a tree at Bako National Park.

Proboscis Monkey in early morning light in Bako.

Silhouette on the shore KK.

One of my favourite little birds common in urban areas the Barred Ground (Peaceful) Dove.

One of my favourite little birds common in urban areas the Barred Ground (Peaceful) Dove.

Black and Yellow Broadbill spotted on the treetop tower at Gunung Mulu National Park.


The week before last I was in Dingle for the weekend to visit my brother and catch some of Other Voices. Tickets for the actual gigs are scarce so we had to be content to watch the concerts streamed into the pubs along the main street. Anyway while down there I tried to take some photos of the beautiful landscape as the sun dipped into the atlantic and the long winter night set in. Below are a number of the images I captured over the few days spent down in Dingle.

The sun sets behind the Blasket Islands.

Sunset seen from Coumeenole

Clogher Strand after sunset.

Sunset from the cliffs north of Clogher Strand.

Just before dark on Clogher Strand.

Tearaght Island at sunset.

Sunset at Coumeenole

Sunset at Coumeenole