Saturday, June 5, 2010

More Adventures and Animals in Malaysia

For reference, our team was located in Sabah (the red “A” on the map) for 5 days (from June 1-5). This is where they stayed with their home-stay family and experienced several meetings and tours of the region.

Here is a journal entry we received from Dina Bredahl about their adventures and the animals they saw in the Sabah region.

During our time in Sabah and throughout northern Malaysia we went on several river boat tours in the evenings, early morning and late at night. With Mincho as our guide we saw the most amazing array of animals. A few highlights were:

• Crocodiles (one tiny and one huge!!!)
• Storm storks
• Stork-billed kingfisher
• White-bellied fish eagle
• Mangrove snake
• Monitor lizards of all sizes
• Rhinocerus hornbills
• Bushy-crested hornbills
• Black hornbills
• Wrinkled hornbills
• Pied hornbills (our guide told us we were SO lucky to see so many specie of hornbills!)
• Brahminy kites (chased a fish eagle away from their territory)
• Purple heron
• Gray-tailed racer snake
• Stork-billed kingfishers
• Blue-eared kingfisher (SO tiny and beautifully colored)
• Buffy fish owl (HUGE yellow eyes, saw it late at night)
• Flat headed cat! (looks similar to a domestic cat, also saw late at night, they fish along the river so we saw it right at the water’s edge)

Some of the most interesting animals we saw were the primates, as we were able to observe wild behavior and intricate social interactions.

• Orangutan foraging in a tree near the river!!!
• Silver leaf monkey
• Long-tailed macaques (also called crab-eating macaques)
• Pig-tailed macaques
• Proboscis monkeys (see pictures below)

The macaques seem pretty habituated to human presence due to the frequent riverboat tours, so they were hanging from branches and grabbing fruits that were touching the water, very close to our boat. Crocodiles are a danger to the monkeys near the river, so they would quickly scamper back up in to the trees. There were so many babies!

The proboscis monkeys were fairly easy to find right before sunset, along the river in sparsely leafed gigantic trees. The monkeys would settle down for the night toward the ends of branches so they can see or feel a clouded leopard approaching in the night.

It was fascinating to see the dominant male, with his gigantic nose, big belly and confident poses; also the young males practicing their open-mouth threats and postures. The proboscis monkeys did not spend much time low near the water, but we did see them take the most incredible leaps from one tree to the next, planning each leap to land much lower in the next tree.

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