|I led a small group that went by jeep to an oil palm plantation only 10 minutes' drive from our camp. The forest belt on either side of the Kinabatangan river forms a relatively narrow strip - beyond it, as far as the eye can see, rows and rows of oil palms have been planted on land where rainforest had previously been logged out. Large areas of them are surrounded by electric fences, largely to keep elephants out, but the elephants manage to get in anyway, sometimes breaking the fences, and we saw oil palms that had been knocked over by elephants to get at the young shoots.
Inneke Nathan, one of our expeditioners who had previously radio-tracked possums in Australia, is shown in the picture with the telemetry receiver listening out for 'beeps' indicating that one of the radiocollared elephants was in the area. We heard the tell-tale sounds of one of the animals, but it was too far away for us to track with any chance of success. Still, it was valuable to see at first hand the cash crop that has replaced rainforest across so much of Sabah. It is not totally devoid of wildlife - we saw many birds and insects, for example - but obviously cannot match the biodiversity of the rainforest it has sadly displaced.