Borneo – Private Safari in the Rainforest

My two separate visits to Borneo in 2017 were highly productive. The rain forest presented its own unique characteristics, and unlike other rain forests around the world that I have visited, the Borneo rain forests comprise of only one family, 90% dipterocarps (two winged seed). The soil of the Borneo rain forests is surprisingly nutrient deficient, due to heavy rainfall and the fact that they are porous in nature. The island consists almost exclusively of exoreic rivers meaning the nutrients leeched from the upland soils are washed out to sea and are therefore unavailable to the plants and trees of these forests. They therefore rely almost soley on the heavy rainfall, abundant sunshine and nutrients from decomposing plant matter. This does however mean that they are highly susceptible to drought and therefore wild forest fires.

A key species in the rain forests of Borneo is the Orangutan Pongo Pygmaeus. They nest in the canopy of a variety of rainforest trees and where you see a fresh nest, you will find an orangutan nearby. These nests are roughly a meter in diameter and consist of broken branches pulled to a central point.

Did you know that orangutan means Person of the Forest and if ever you are lucky enough to see one, you will know why! With almost 98% shared DNA with us they have many human-like qualities. Orangutan are almost strictly arboreal as are many of Borneo’s large soft skinned mammals such as the Clouded Leopard and Sun Bear. This may be due to the prevalence of leeches and in particular the Tiger Leech which are found from ground level to about 7 or 8 feet up. Orangutan are the only great ape outside of Africa and are found on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra (Orangutan Pongo Abelii). If you are travelling to Sabha, you are likely to see the smallest of the three sub-species which is Orangutan, Pongo Pygmaeus Morio. Unlike most of the ape family, they do not live in family groups i.e are not gregarious and so are often found as single males or females with young. Young ones will stay with their mothers for around 4-5 years. Interestingly, this is roughly the same time between masting periods of the dipterocarp forests in which they live, meaning periods of large amounts of food when females are pregnant although they are not limited to breeding during the masting phenomenon.

The orangutan is listed as a critical endangered species by the IUCN (International Union Conservation or Nature and Natural Resources) so a joy to see in their natural habitat.

By | 2018-01-23T10:08:03+00:00 November 15th, 2017|Trip Report|0 Comments