Author Topic: Borneo Adventure  (Read 2918 times)


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Re: Borneo Adventure
« Reply #30 on: September 07, 2017, 09:37:37 »
Akira, Golunvolo and Ethan:
You are all so kind. Thank you for your most generous comments.


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Re: Borneo Adventure
« Reply #31 on: September 07, 2017, 10:47:16 »
Seeing the Wood for the Trees:

Mark had told me about a magical place: the Borneo Rainforest Lodge in Danum Valley but I  assumed that I could not possibly get there on this trip because of the distance, lack of any direct transport and because they are always fully booked for months ahead.

I mentioned this to Ling who said:  “Let’s see”, picked up her phone and made two calls.
Astonishingly, the Lodge had had a cancellation and Ahmad said  that his brother in law would drive me there

Four days later, Jeffrey (Ahmad’s brother-in-law)  collected me from Sukau and drove me the two and half hours to the small town of Lahad Datu where the Rainforest Lodge has an office which is  the pick-up point for their shuttle car service to the Lodge.

That part of the journey takes a further two and half hours  — most of it on a narrow gravel mountain road passing through beautiful forest scenery.



The Danum Valley Forest is particularly important because it has never been logged so it contains primary-growth forest trees which are of enormous size and are many hundreds of years old.



Many of the largest trees belong to the Dipterocarp family (meaning they have two-winged seeds) and these hardwoods have been harvested in most of Borneo but, in the National Forest in the Danum Valley they are now permanently protected.



A very wonderful construction at Danum is the Canopy Walkway which weaves its way 80 feet above the forest floor through the canopy supported by the trees themselves.



It is a magical to be up among the tree-tops in the mist before sunrise;  listening to the forest awakening and the whooping calls of the Gibbons; until the sun finally bursts through the mist in a myriad of brilliant sunbeams. The spectacle doesn’t last for long because the mist burns off very quickly but it is an amazing experience while it lasts.







Many Dipterocarps can reach heights that exceed 200-feet but, curiously they are very shallow-rooted.

The soil is very thin in the forest and the trees only remain standing because the trunks emerge from enormous triangular-winged buttressed bases.

 This Tualang or Mengaris tree exhibits a buttressed trunk. It is one of the largest species and  is endowed with a very hard smooth white bark into which Sun Bears cannot sink their claws.


Somehow the bees know this and construct their hives high in the upper branches where the honey is out of reach for the bears.

Dawn on the Canopy Walkway by itself was certainly worth the amount of driving-time (some eleven hours in all with five of those on a gravelled mountain road) that it took to get me there (and back again to Sepilok where I needed to be next).


AJS5285-1.jpg Sleeping Langur

The construction of the walkway is remarkable when you realise that people had to climb up those gigantic trees to a height of 100 feet to attach the ropes and cables which support the walkway. At the moment, it is reduced in length because one of the trees died (it was struck by lightning I believe) so part of the walkway has had to be taken down.

Another tree has been chosen as a new support and the missing section is being rebuilt.


Maintenance of the long mountain road up to Danum Valley also takes a lot of work.

When we reached this bridge, my driver suggested that I would be safer if I walked across it while he very bravely risked his life by driving a heavy car over the river that flowed some 70 feet below.

There were some huge Ironwood logs lying by the side of the road which are to  be used for rebuilding the bridge.




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Re: Borneo Adventure
« Reply #32 on: September 07, 2017, 13:34:54 »
Thanks for this lovely Borneo series. The morning mist in the trees must have been spectacular, I surely would like to experience that.
Kjetil Narum Bakken


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Re: Borneo Adventure
« Reply #33 on: September 07, 2017, 13:50:47 »
The trees of rainforest are as fascinating as (or in a way more fascinating than) the wildlife!  These images are great proves of that.
"The eye is blind if the mind is absent." - Confucius


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Re: Borneo Adventure
« Reply #34 on: September 07, 2017, 15:21:51 »
A riveting adventure, beautifully captured, Ann! 8)


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Re: Borneo Adventure
« Reply #35 on: September 07, 2017, 16:41:39 »
Dear Ann
Thank you for taking the time to:
- process & post these fantastic images (as always)
- writing "the story" for us

You do realize that we live vicariously through you when you are on these adventures 8)

The Orang shots are positively gorgeous - but I'm biased towards these since I studied a lot of non-human primate anthropology while in University many years ago.

It is wonderful to see your photos again!!


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Re: Borneo Adventure: A Close Encounter
« Reply #36 on: September 08, 2017, 08:01:27 »
Close Encounter . . .

At dusk, just as Raybould Kouju (my Guide) and I approached the string-bridge which crosses the Danum River the branches in the tree above my head shook vigorously.

Something had landed but the foliage was too dense, and the light-level in the forest was so dim, that we couldn’t see exactly what it was.

Then I looked across the bridge and noticed a group of the very shy Red Leaf Monkeys (also known as Maroon Langurs) sitting on the hand-rail at the far end.


Unfortunately they were too far away for good photographs and the light was fading so I just stood very still and watched — and reckoned this was just one of those moments which are “only for the eyes”.

Then something very strange happened: The creature who had landed in the tree must have been the Dominant Male. He must have decided that we posed no threat, and signalled to his troupe that it was safe to cross the bridge, because, one by one they all came loping along the railings of the bridge in that curious rolling-gait of theirs —(some of them mothers carrying babies) — until they were only a meter away from me and much too close to me for the lens to focus.









Then each monkey leapt directly in front of me to the opposite hand-rail; and from there, jumped into the branches immediately above my head. They did not seem to be in the least perturbed by the rapid firing of my camera’s shutter.







 It was an incredibly rare, and rather emotional, encounter and Raybould (who has been guiding on Borneo for 15 years) told me that he had never experienced anything like this before.

We both walked back to the Lodge (or perhaps we floated there on Cloud Nine?) wondering whether it was entirely fair to tell the other guests what we had just experienced.

Recording Life as it actually happens, and being able to tell the whole story,  is surely is what cameras were really designed and built to do?

The D5 incorporates technology which was unimaginable only a few years ago. It seems to be able to handle anything, and everything, that moves in front of it and one of the thrills of this trip was to be able to shoot action-shots of wild-life under appalling lighting conditions where I would never have been able to shoot previously.

When it’s almost dark and amazing things are happening very fast; I can switch to  25,600  (that is Thousand!!) ISO or even higher. I knew that I really needed go higher because 1/500 sec was barely sufficient for stopping the action while hand-holding a 400mm lens.

Of course! But who cares?
I certainly don’t — I was able to capture the whole thrilling sequence only because such high ISO speeds are now available to us.


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Re: Borneo Adventure
« Reply #37 on: September 08, 2017, 09:08:12 »
Kjetil, Akira, Carl and Doug:

I am thrilled that you have enjoyed the photographs.

I have just added another installment to the thread of a very unusual encounter which I experienced.


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Re: Borneo Adventure: Some Monkey Business
« Reply #38 on: September 10, 2017, 07:19:31 »

Some Monkey Business:

Long-tailed Macaques are not on anyone’s “Endangered Species” list: they thrive in huge numbers throughout Southeast Asia. They are clever, extremely opportunistic and can be quite aggressive: they will rip open a bag which might contain food or grab food right out of your hands if given half a chance.

I met this Macaque on the same bridge where I had just encountered the Maroon Langurs.


He seems to have reckoned that either I was no threat, or that he could deal with me if he needed to.

I was not carrying any food so may be that was why his cautious expression changed to one of annoyance as he got closer to me?





He came along the hand railings of the bridge right up to me while keeping his eyes fixed directly on me every step of the way; and then he jumped into the tree above my head where he apparently intended to sleep.





In the final shot, I was definitely being sworn-at and told to get lost so that he could get some sleep!


It was getting very dark by this time so I respected his wishes and slipped away leaving him to sleep.

While I had shot the whole amusing sequence on the bridge using ISO 25,600, I had to raise it to ISO 51,200 for the last three photographs of the Macaque in his tree .

David Paterson

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Re: Borneo Adventure
« Reply #39 on: September 11, 2017, 00:45:40 »
A fine and sympathetic series of images of these rather touching creatures with their soulful eyes. In spite of the efforts of many good people in animal rescue, one has to wonder how many years the orang and man other species will exist in the wild.


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Re: Borneo Adventure: Rhinos' Demise
« Reply #40 on: September 14, 2017, 10:27:32 »
Thank you.

It is horrifying when one realises just how many species are now so endangered; and the gene pool so reduced; that there is a very real threat of extinction.

There are now only three living Bornean Rhinos in existence and none of them is capable of breeding.

They are now living out their days in the safety of the fairly remote Tabin Reserve but I was not able to see them although I did spend time in the Conservation area where they lived until they were moved to Tabin to get them further away and harder poachers to find.

[More about that area next]


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Re: Borneo Adventure: Bear Necessities
« Reply #41 on: September 14, 2017, 10:49:53 »
Bear Necessities:

I only had two early-morning time-slots in the Sepilok area but there were three different locations where I really wanted to be at that time in the morning.

The Orang Utans and the Proboscis Monkeys were my priorities which meant that a visit to the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre was going to have to happen at a less good time. Consequently, I only managed to get to the Sun Bears at mid-day with a harsh sun directly overhead.


The bears are more likely to be at their most active early in the morning, and then sleep during the middle of the day, but a few were still awake for me when I arrived at noon.


Bornean Sun Bears (a sub-species of the Malayan Sun Bears) are the smallest of all the bears. These pretty little bears are only about 4 ft. in length and have glossy black coats with honey-coloured muzzles and yellow V-shaped patches on their breasts. Their handsome features endanger their lives because the baby cubs are often trapped for the lucrative, but totally illegal, pet trade. Another threat comes from the illegal killing of these bears for body-parts for traditional medicine in China and Southeast Asia. Forestry-depletion is also leading to a decline in their numbers.

The authorities confiscate illegal pet bears when they find them and a safe home then needs to be found for them where they can be rehabilitated and hopefully become self-sufficient enough to be returned to the wild.

The Sun Bear Conservation Centre at Sepilok was founded for this purpose. Wong Siew Te, BSBCC Founder and CEO, was so concerned about the plight of these bears that he prevailed upon the Sabah Forestry Department to let him take-over the Rhinoceros Preserve at Sepilok (which was no longer being used because the last three known Bornean Rhinos had been moved to a safer location in Tabin).



 Sun Bears have exceptionally long tongues (which are perfect for extracting termites from tree-trunks); and very long claws which enable them to climb trees,  build nests in the branches for sleeping and to tear into tree trunks to raid honey combs.


The “golden necklace” — a distinguishing mark of this species.



One of the interesting things that I learned while talking to Mr. Wong is that his policy at the Conservation Centre is to NOT feed the bears either every day nor or at any set time but fruit is put out for them at irregular intervals several times a week.

The bears have a huge area of forest set aside for them which is naturally filled with nearly every food-stuff which they like (particularly termites, ants and other earth-burrowing invertebrates) and it is important that they continue to hunt for themselves.




The idea here is to eventually rehabilitate as many of the  bears as possible and release them back into the wild so it is essential that they do not become dependent on humans and also that they don’t lose their natural fear of them.


Unfortunately many of the Sun Bears which were hunted for the pet trade when they were very young cubs, (their mothers having been killed for their bile, claws and other body-parts which are used in traditional Chinese Medicine) are now too domesticated so will probably never be fit for survival in the wild again.




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Re: Borneo Adventure
« Reply #42 on: September 16, 2017, 12:16:41 »
Ann, I can understand why people are so enthusiastic to see you and your photos here. I thoroughly enjoy reading your reports and photos. It is a good thing that the treasures of our planet are captured in this way.
Thank you for sharing.

I am wondering what you haven't seen yet on this planet?


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Re: Borneo Adventure
« Reply #43 on: September 16, 2017, 13:24:47 »
Wonderful scenery and animals, thanks for showing them to us.
Anthony Macaulay


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Re: Borneo Adventure
« Reply #44 on: September 16, 2017, 23:09:24 »
>>> I am wondering what you haven't seen yet on this planet? >>>


So many places: if only I had an unlimited budget . . . . the Southern hemisphere remains mostly unexplored — so far.

Thank you Peter and Anthony: it thrills me to know that you are enjoying this series.