Tabin: Elephants Galore!
Trip Start Dec 29, 2012
88Trip End Aug 15, 2013
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The road up to the park boundary has palm planted on one side and the wild preserve on the other. We found throughout our few days here that this makes for great wildlife sightings as many of the animals and birds come to the plantations to eat and then they return to the forest. By law the plantation owners are not able to harm any of the animals that come onto their property. Seems like a good set up, but I wonder about the diet of the animals and if palm is good nutrition for them?
We had a wonderful lunch as soon as we arrived at the lodge and our guide, Esrail took us on a short jungle walk in the afternoon. We saw many trees, lianas (vines) and insects along with a flying lizard. It felt great to be in a rainforest again!
After a short siesta we hopped into the back of a pick up truck with benches for a dusk and evening ride. The first thing we saw on the road was a spitting viper.
We continued on our drive and saw elephants! Lots and lots of Borneo Pygmy Elephants feeding on the side of the road. Esrail was surprised as they often don't travel this close to the lodge until July. We watched them for quite a while. There were many calves with their mothers and a few young bulls. Listening to them rustle the foliage and make growling noises as they communicated was really amazing! Every once in a while the matriarch would give a trumpet or two.
Following a great dinner (the lodges here have amazing food - a mixture of Malay and Thai - mostly fish with rice and great flavours!) we went straight to sleep. A strange noise kept waking us up though. A scratching sound right under our elevated hut. Much too large sounding to be a rat or mouse, we found out the next night that it was probably a civet (a mid-size cat looking creature). We saw three civets during our night walk on our second evening.
In the morning after breakfast we headed out for a four kilometre hike through the forest to a mud volcano.
After the story, I kept a keen look out for elephants on the path! I could tell that Esrail was too. Fortunately, all we saw were their tracks. Some old and filled with water. The trail continued to get muddier and muddier on our way to the volcano. The mud volcano is a vent that erupts in mud instead of lava and the mammals from the area frequent there to roll in and eat the mineral rich mud.
Driving back to the lodge we passed the breeding centre for the Borneo Sumatran Rhinoceros of which there are only an estimated 40 left. There are some scientists and volunteers that run a program which has four rhinos in enclosures and they have been attempting to breed them and then re-release them into the wild in order to save them from extinction. However, one of the females is too old and is actually blind, so they haven't been able to release her. Visitors to the centre aren't allowed, but it was great to hear that people are trying to do something to prevent the termination of such a large and beautiful animal.
After lunch we were treated to a mud volcano face mask and herbal footsoak with plants from the rainforest. All four of us indulged!
On our second night walk we found lots of frogs, a beautiful kingfisher, fruit bats flying with figs in their mouths, three civets and a few spiders and such.
In the early morning we were driven back into Lahad Datu to meet with our next driver for the Borneo Rainforest Lodge in Danum Valley. We saw Macaque monkeys - long tailed and pig-tailed, bearded pigs, and Grey Leaf monkeys in Tabin too!