Adventure on the Lower Kinabatangan River, Sabah, Borneo
Late afternoon and pitch dark rides up and down the Kinabatangan proved awesome.. Our first exposure to the Pygmy elephant (80% the size of Asian elephants) was a herd of 40 (15 of which we could readily count, including 4 babies, one nursing) ripping out foliage along the banks, crashing around and decimating the area. We sat languidly in our open boat for an hour, watching 2 young male elephants frolicking in the river, submerging, rolling over, entwining their trunks, for over an hour, as the 2 drifted downstream and us with them. We spotted an Orang 20-30 meters above lounging in its nest for the night. Occasionally the presence of Malay Badgers onshore was made known by their skunk-like smells wafting across our bow. Most impressive was the sighting of a 4 foot crocodile in pitch dark, made by a slight reflection of its eyes via a quick panning of our guide’s “torch”. This sighting, as well as one of the Flat-Headed Cat (leopard family) who was almost completely hidden in riverside bushes, were facilitated by a green laser pointer deftly used by our guides to help us to pinpoint their location, without blinding them. The zenith of the magical night river meanderings was the synchronized display of the fire flies, resting by the hundreds in a number of trees, flashing on and off together, like Christmas tree lights. We spontaneously broke into singing Christmas carols (in a Muslim country), with “O Tannenbaum” for starters. Our 40 days in SE Asia did not stop here.
By S.A. Moffett
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