Borneo: My First Time to the Jungle

Rainforest in mist at sunrise, Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Borneo, M

Rainforest in mist at sunrise, Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia

It’s hard to describe the feeling you get in the tropical rainforest.  It is an extremely dense forest where animals abound, and when you walk through it, you can feel the biodiversity surrounding you. I fell in love with it instantly.

I spent six weeks in the Sabah region of Malaysian Borneo for a ‘top secret’ project to be released soon. As always, the trip would not have been possible without the help of a lot of people, who will also be named soon. Am I getting you excited yet? Let’s just say we were able to photograph an animal never before photographed with high resolution cameras (though several pictures taken with point and shoot trail cameras do exist)!

Exploring in the rainforest is a totally different experience from anything else I have done.  Between the large trees covered with epiphytes and undergrowth plants competing for light you are totally surrounded by vegetation. When it gets dark, a person with claustrophobia may get rather (understandably) uncomfortable. The sounds are truly spectacular, with katydids and all kinds of other insects making incredible noises. You can even set your watch by the six o’clock cicada that starts its distinct, patterned, and somewhat shrill sound at 6am and 6pm (it was never early or late by more than 10 minutes).

Here is a small sampling of images from this magical place:

Rainforest in mist, Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia

Rainforest in mist, Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia

Fern with water droplet, Tawau Hills Park, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia

Fern with water droplet, Tawau Hills Park, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia

Can you find the leaf-mimicking katydid?

Can you find the leaf-mimicking katydid?

Saturniid Moth (Antheraea larissa), Tawau Hills Park, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia

Saturniid Moth (Antheraea larissa), Tawau Hills Park, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia

Common Water Monitor (Varanus salvator), Tawau Hills Park, Sabah, Borneo

Common Water Monitor (Varanus salvator), Tawau Hills Park, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia

Lesser Short-nosed Fruit Bat (Cynopterus brachyotis) roosting, Tawau Hills Park, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia

Lesser Short-nosed Fruit Bat (Cynopterus brachyotis) roosting, Tawau Hills Park, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia

Long-tailed Macaque (Macaca fascicularis) female, Tawau Hills Park, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia

Long-tailed Macaque (Macaca fascicularis) female, Tawau Hills Park, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia

Proboscis Monkey (Nasalis larvatus) female in tree, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia

Proboscis Monkey (Nasalis larvatus) female in tree, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia

Don’t worry the birds will come in the next post!

I would highly recommend going to the rainforest if you can, it will alter your life view and you will want to protect it as badly as I do. There is no doubt about it!

Now, I know some of you are thinking: what about all those parasites? I do have to say those worries are mostly unwarranted and overblown, but they do exist. I got a nice hookworm that was tunneling under my skin for a good month before I took some pills that killed it. It was my own fault, I stepped into dog poop while wearing flip flops and wasn’t careful enough to not get any on my foot. I know, it’s gross, but I am just wanting to make sure you learn the lesson!

Warning: The following image will be disturbing to some viewers ! 🙂

 

 

 

This is what happens when you step into dog poop in the tropics....a nice hookworm tunnel.

This is what happens when you step into dog poop in the tropics….a nice hookworm tunnel.

2 thoughts on “Borneo: My First Time to the Jungle

  1. I met you at Tawau Hills back in March if you remember (I live in Brunei and was on my fourth or fifth visit to the park). I wanted to ask whether you got up Maria; one of the rangers told me someone had been camera trapping up there. What animal did you photograph in high res? Will you be posting these pics? Congratulations on what you’ve posted here; they’re lovely. Do you have any links to the pitta/broadbill people’s work? I hope to get back to the park again myself early next year. Definitely one of Borneo’s best kept secrets!

    • Hi Ian,
      of course I remember! Sorry it took a little while to respond. I am currently in Gabon so it sometimes takes a little while for me to catch up with everything internet related. I did not go up all the way to Maria. I had camera traps on the trail up to it though. We were able to capture Sunda Clouded Leopard and Marbled Cat (and Malay Civet) in high resolution. The pics are currently being assessed by magazines. After they have been published I will definitely post them as well. Unfortunately I don’t think they broadbill people have a website directly for the research they were doing in Tawau. I have stayed in touch with some of them in case you are interested in contacting them? Thanks again for the message!

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