|Danum Valley conservation area is 45,000 hectares of arguably the best preserved pristine lowland rainforest in South East Asia. The difference between this ‘primary’ rainforest and the ‘secondary’ rainforest we were in at our previous location on the Kinamatanga is evidenced in the sheer size of the trees here; the canopy is around 50-60 metres from the ground. In the afternoon yesterday, we broke into two groups for treks into this rainforest, to observe the forest, the wildlife and of course to search for signs of elephants.
I was in a group that trekked to a nearby waterfall along a winding trail that wended its way past huge trees and up and over ridges that gave us views across the canopy in the valley. In this primary forest, you can’t feel but feel tiny and insignificant, little more than an insect in the leaf litter next to the skyscrapers of nature that surround you. We walked for three and a half hours, and towards the end chanced upon a tree full of red leaf monkeys, looking down quizzically with their little black faces at the strange clothed primates walking beneath them.
The other trekking group took a different trail and found some perfectly formed elephant footprints which they measured. You can estimate an elephant’s height from the size of their footprints, so they are useful data.
We were informed upon returning from the trek that while the Danum area was crawling with elephants several weeks ago, they have moved north from here into the selectively logged forest area (which apparently they prefer to primary forest due to the greater abundance of food at ground level). This area is about an hour’s drive, so we will be heading up there in vehicles this afternoon in the hope of getting some good sightings. It is going to be harder to sight elephants here than at the Kinamatanga, and the elephants are more aggressive and so we need to stay close to or in the vehicles.
Fortunately they use logging roads to move around and so there is a good chance of seeing them on the roads, but mostly at dawn or dusk. In the meantime, we shall be making the most of being in this incredible location.
|Last night, as three of us finished beers on the veranda, a palm civet (one of Borneo ’s many creative creatures – it looks like a racoon crossed with a badger and a cat) wandered to within three metres of us before dashing back into the forest. It was a great end to a good first day at Darum. Now we need to find some elephants!
For more information on the civet, see the related website on the right of this page.