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If you’re looking for a truly extraordinary proboscis monkeys, Bornean pygmy forest reserve in
insight into the natural world, you have to visit
elephants and a rich diversity of other the Crocker Ranges – they are relatively
wildlife. The village of Sukau provides common in certain areas.
this Pacifi c island, says expert Nick Garbutt. an ideal base, where there are a number ■ KINABALU PARK Mount Kinabalu
of lodges, purpose-built for the wildlife – at 4101m the highest peak in Southeast
hink of Borneo and the mind immediately conjures up images of darkness enthusiasts. Asia – rises like a citadel from the
and mystery. Tales of head hunters are embedded in tribal folklore and ■ DANUM VALLEY For grandeur, surrounding lowlands. The peculiarities
intertwined with myths of rainforest spirits, good and evil. For these atmosphere and veranda views, the of climate and habitat it creates exert an
and numerous other reasons, the island has for centuries nourished the Borneo Rainforest Lodge takes some omnipresent infl uence over northern
imagination of adventurers, travellers and naturalists alike. beating. On the opposite side of the Borneo and have nurtured the evolution
The famous Victorian naturalist Alfred Wallace nurtured his thoughts on evolution Danum River a huge bank of lush of a host of locally endemic species. This is
after spending time there, and his contemporary Charles Darwin once described it as lowland rainforest towers above, a botanist’s promised land, that supports
“One great wild untidy luxuriant hothouse imposing a feeling of awe and utter self- arguably, the richest, most varied and
made by nature for herself”. insignifi cance. At dawn you may hear the remarkable assemblage of plants in the
Borneo is rich in resources, and calls of rhinoceros hornbills building to a world. Most celebrated are the carnivorous
today many are being plundered beyond crescendo, the haunting songs of gibbons pitcher plants (genus Nepenthes) and
the point of no return. Yet in the face or even the baritone booms of orang-utans many beautiful and bewildering orchids,
of adversity it is the island’s wealth of from trees nearby. some endemic to the mountain.
wildlife that remains its most priceless ■ TAMBUNAN RAFFLESIA RAIN ■ SEPILOK FOREST RESERVE AND
and irreplaceable asset. From the dizzy FOREST RESERVE On an island where ORANG-UTAN SANCTUARY There’s
heights of Mount Kinabalu, through the improbable becomes probable, a an eerie sense of self when holding the
tracts of lush rainforest, fl ooded swamps fl ower larger than a dustbin lid may still gaze of an orang-utan: expressions and
and mangroves to pristine coral-fringed stretch credibility. And size isn’t the only mannerisms are so closely mirrored.
off-shore islands, the diversity of habitats improbable thing about a Raffl esia – the It’s humbling to comprehend just how
supports a tremendous array of endearing world’s biggest single bloom. For starters close our common ancestry may be. And
and intriguing species – there are they’re parasitic and ‘dormant’ most of it’s because they’re so close to home that
mammals, lizards, snakes and frogs that the time, their cabbage-like buds take encounters are so unforgettable. At Sepilok
fl y, fi sh that walk on mud, monkeys that nine months to mature, and when they intimate encounters with orang-utans
dive and swim, plants that eat insects and fi nally bloom, the enormous fl ower lasts are commonplace at the twice-daily
fl owers the size of dustbin lids. Here are less than a week before it shrivels and feeding sessions. Here orang-utans in the
the highlights. dies. Perhaps as well really, as Raffl esia middle of rehabilitation regularly come
also stink like rotting fl esh and attract to be fed. Opened in 1964, the project has
■ KINABATANGAN RIVER, SUKAU carrion fl ies to pollinate them. As there’s successfully returned several hundred
Sabah’s longest river, fl anked by riverine no specifi c fl owering season, actually orang-utans to their forest home and some
forest and mangroves that harbour seeing one can be a bit of a hit and miss are now breeding with established wild
signifi cant populations of orang-utans, affair. However, at Tambunan – a montane individuals. ■
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