Posted by: Ross Gardner | April 3, 2018

The Virgin Forest

Danum river (scaled)

Danum Valley

The rainforests of Borneo are, as I have discovered, wonderful and exciting places.  This is something, I think, that holds true as much for the traveller with a more general thirst for experiences of the world as it does for the more serious naturalist.  It is impossible not to be impressed, at times even overwhelmed by the sense of abundance that often might never be seen, but only felt.  Perhaps this is even more the case on a visit to the primary forests in their pristine state.  Perhaps though, this is a thing of psychology, the connotations implied by our subconscious thoughts when in presence of forest millions of years old.  Perhaps it doesn’t matter – experience is all.

We were offered a glimpse of such old-growth forest during a stay at the Danum Valley Research Centre at the end of our time in Sabah.  We were asked by our guide at Kinabatangan, ahead of our visit, what we hoped to see during our time exploring the guided trails from the centre.  I think he expected us to list a few choice target species, as is often the wont of visitors to Borneo’s special places.  We told him that we just wanted to experience the virgin forest for what it is, regardless of what we might see there.  Maybe he was mildly surprised at our more easy-going expectations of the trip, something he seemed to find agreeable.   The experience we were hoping for we certainly received and not, I should say, without some wonderful encounters with its inhabitants.

Bornean Gibbon 2 (scaled)

The Bornean Gibbon is endemic to Borneo. Their whooping calls echoed far through the forest around the Danum Valley research Centre.

Gonocephalus bornensis - Borneo Angle-headed Lizard

Borneo Angle-headed Lizard (Gonocephalus bornensis) – another of the islands many endemic species.

Huntsman plus Forest Ant (scaled)

A huntsman spider makes a meal out of a huge Giant Forest Ant (Camponotus gigas).

Lepidiota stigma 2 (scaled)

The lights around the research centre attracted their fair share of bedazzled forest invertebrates, like this impressive beetle – Lepidiota stigma…..

Lyssa menoetius (scaled)

… and no small number of moths, including the stunning Lyssa menoetius.

Whiskered Tree Swift 2 (scaled)

This Whiskered Tree Swift held sentry on the suspension bridge leading from the centre into primary forest.

Polypedates macrotis - Dark-eared Tree Frog (scaled)

There were frogs aplenty, like this Dark-eared Tree Frog (Polypedates macrotis).

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