Are there animals you’d give anything to see in the wild? That’s certainly the case for me, as a naturalist Expedition Leader. And earlier this year in Borneo, I had one of the most thrilling sightings of my life.
I was with my group on a night walk in the Danum Valley, in one of the world’s oldest and tallest rain forests, when we spied a tarsier up in a tree. They knew it was a big deal, because the glee on my face gave it away.
A small animal with giant round eyes, the tarsier is a primitive primate, nearly as ancient as lemurs. And our odds are even better to see a more familiar primate, the only great ape outside Africa. Of course, I’m talking about the orangutan. And while we often spot orangutans in the wild, we’ll definitely meet them at two orang sanctuaries.
Borneo’s rain forests are filled with amazing wildlife, from birds like the rhinoceros hornbill, with its huge orange beak, to large mammals, too. Pygmy elephants gather at the Kinabatangan River to drink. Troops of big proboscis monkeys carouse along the rivers, too, keeping their backs toward the safety of the water while scouting the forest for clouded leopards. They’re not wary of us, though, and we enjoy close-up views of their droll faces and amusing antics.
But it’s Borneo’s forest gliders that are really astounding. The colugo -- also called a 'flying lemur' since it resembles one -- and a dozen species of flying squirrel have flaps of extra skin between their legs that function just like a wingsuit: these creatures can glide 300 feet from tree to tree as they forage at dusk.
Night walks are a truly special way to explore Borneo, because they’re a grab bag of possibilities. We may see a civet cat, flying squirrels as big as a cat, fireflies twinkling beneath the Milky Way...the nocturnal show is always full of surprises.
Add marine ecosystems, with mangroves, nipa palms, sandy beaches and Selingan Island, home to endangered sea turtles, and you have an exhilarating nature extravaganza!
Can you tell I’m enthused about Borneo?? You will be, too, when you join us on a tropical safari unlike any other.
P.S. Conservation travel, which helps protect habitats and their wild inhabitants through economic support for communities, is crucial in Borneo, where the impact of palm oil development is growing. Be part of the force to preserve Borneo’s wildlife -- join our expedition to see orangutans and much more!