Borneo Wildlife Encounters | Danum Valley
Posted by Gerald Broddelez
Apex field leader, Gerald Broddelez, recounts a spectacular day of Borneo wildlife encounters in the pristine rainforest of Danum Valley.
“I had never felt so alive… never had a day so full of wildlife surprises and wonder!”
An Orangutan and Gibbons to start this spectacular day!
A few years ago, I woke up in a beautiful bungalow in Danum Valley, an eco-resort built right into the jungle in Borneo. Danum Valley Conservation Area, at just over 100,000 acres, is Sabah’s largest protected area of lowland dipterocarp forest. It was our first day in the field of a two-week trip. Looking out at sunrise that morning from my balcony, I quickly spotted a family of Smooth-coated Otters patrolling the river closely watched by a bright blue-orange Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher, a great start!
After an early breakfast, we took a walk along the main trail and swiftly found one of our most wanted targets for the trip. A male Orangutan was feeding in a tree nearby allowing us to get close and get fantastic shots. We followed it for over an hour until it disappeared into the thick vegetation. A couple of Bornean Gibbons were calling constantly in the distance and occasionally they would show, swinging in the highest branches of a distant tree!
Lizards, Butterflies and a Blue-banded Pitta
Further along the trail we came to a halt as we first heard and then spotted several endemic Bristleheads in the canopy while a beautiful Crested Fireback (Pheasant) ran across the road just in front of us. A Blue-banded Pitta was calling nearby eventually showing itself. We then hiked to a vantage point with a spectacular view of the surrounding jungle and the lodge below us. Several Rhinoceros Hornbills flew by. We also saw many lizards and loads of butterflies. After a short siesta, we visited a nearby small pool full of Wallace’s Flying Frog spawn and the largest Tarantula spider I’ve ever seen!
Then it was on to the Canopy walkway, another highlight of the trip, offering a bird’s eye view of nature from a close-up perspective. It is a long series of elevated walkways made of wood, cable, and rope and sways up to 85 feet above the ground, offering vertiginous views of the jungle floor below!
Spotting a Western Tarsier
That evening, we did a night drive in the park on the back of an open-air truck. After spotting a Colugo hanging like an old carpet on a branch and a couple of Red Giant Flying Squirrels our attention was quickly turned to a small mammal hopping from one tree to the next. When it finally stopped, we realized it was a Western Tarsier, one of the cutest and rarest mammals in the world. Here it was only a few feet away giving unsurpassed views! We continued in the company of thousands of fire flies and spotted a Leopard Cat walking on the road, a family of Bearded Pigs taking a mud bath, several Lesser Mouse Deer, a Barking Gecko and many more calling frogs.
I had never felt so alive, never had a day so full of wildlife surprises and wonder. The pristine lowland rainforest of Danum Valley is undoubtedly Borneo’s premier wildlife location.
Learn more about field leader Gerald Broddelez and his upcoming expeditions.