Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Borneo wildlife

The nature in Borneo has not only been diverse, but also abundant. It's often cited that tropical rainforests, which are only located in south east Asia, the amazon and Central Africa, account for 6% of the total land mass (or 2% of the planet's surface) but sustain approximately 50% of the worlds plants and animals.
In addition to the beneficial carbon offsetting work they do of course.

In that regard I've been fortunate to see some amazing species. Especially when I caught the short flight to Mulu, the unesco world heritage sight.

Before I talk about Mulu, a quick word on orangutans. On our last day of the fujitsu tour we overnighted at the Shangri-la rasa ria which houses a sanctuary for orphaned orangutans. This is all part of a complex rehabilitation programme, after the rasa-ria they are moved to the east of Sabah where they are slowly weaned off their dependence on humans so they can then be released into the wild and hopefully continue to sustain the dwindling population.
Both the resort and seeing the orangutans was a great reward for us 60 volunteers!
I also saw this wide gaited geezer of a monitor lizard. He was strutting along without a care in the world.

And a cute snake outside my room (there were several members of staff keeping a safe distance)

Interestingly I also saw these amazing crab patterns on the beach, where they dig out sand from their burrows and deposit it in incredible patterns. It made me think of Alan Turings theory of morphogenesis. I'm no scientist but strictly this phenomenon probably doesn't sit under that theory as it's more to do with how animals adapt and evolve chemically, e.g. To get stripes or spots, but still, he did some fascinating work after the war before he cruelly died so young.

They are like little cities with carriageways and open spaces. Why does each crab choose a different design or approach?

As for Mulu, what an incredible place, a friend who had been there before told me to close my eyes and listen to the sounds of the jungle at night. However on the first night the restaurant just outside the national park's perimeter had karaoke on, so all I could hear was the horrible drunk wails of Homo Sapiens singing "I will always love you" - had to laugh!
Below -On the way to Mulu.

But when it only the jungle you could hear, there is an overwhelming variety of sounds. The yelps of geckos, cicadas chirruping, frogs, the weird leaf cricket who rubs its wings so it sounds like a six year old having their first violin lesson. And also disconcerting sounds I didn't get a chance to ask a guides advice on. An unearthly booming echoing call, like two huge pieces of bamboo being whacked together for instance.

I did a night walk,a canopy walk, and various cave walks. I asked our guide what the best way to get rid of leeches was. He said to use a credit card, I made a joke about leeches charging, but nobody laughed. Wasted wit :).
But...My best memory though has to be my last day.

I saw the famous bat exodus. It wasn't the millions promised but at dusk the caves belched big clouds and beautiful ribbons of bats into the fading light. Bat hawks circled and dived into the mass, snaring the tiny bats, truly a wonder. Here's a terrible photo of a "bat ribbon" - morphogenesis again? (Or not!)

Earlier in the day I went to racer cave, which isn't lit like the other tourist caves. So there's an eerie quality as you gingerly step through, shining your torch in the pitch black. The click click of swiftlets and the shrill calls of bats the first clue to the unique Eco system. We saw massive huntsman spiders which feed on bird eggs. Huge crickets with enormous antenna, compensating for their blindness and the racer snake, the alpha predator. 

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