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.