WWF’s Kelley Ashford captured these wildlife photos within the world’s tallest rain forest during her Borneo Adventure with Natural Habitat Adventures. The following photos were taken at various locations such as the Danum Valley Conservation Area and Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Center in Sabah, Gunung Mulu National Park and Bako National Park in Sarawak, and Selingan Turtle Island.
1. Wild Orangutan
I came across this wild orangutan while hiking through Borneo’s Danum Valley rain forest. The Conservation Area is the largest area of undisturbed lowland forest in Sabah. WWF teams surveyed this forest back in the mid-1970’s, recommending the area be placed under protection. This female orangutan took a moment to check out our group before returning to her foraging in the trees.
2. Turtle tracks
Selingan Turtle Island is one of a group of uninhabited islands straddling the Malaysian and Philippine boundary in the Sulu Sea. It’s one of three main turtle nesting sites in Borneo. Each night, endangered green and hawksbill sea turtles make their way ashore to lay their eggs. What looks like vehicle tracks in the sand are actually sea turtle tracks. These islands are maintained as conservation and research areas where scientists work to protect sea turtle nesting grounds. Elsewhere, coastal development, vehicle traffic on beaches, and other human activities have directly destroyed or disturbed nesting beaches. WWF works around the world to eliminate sea turtle bycatch from fisheries, reduce the unsustainable harvest and illegal trade in marine turtles, and stem the loss of critical sea turtle habitats.
3. Colony of Bats
Deer Cave holds one of the world’s largest cave passages – nearly a mile and a quarter long and more than 570 feet high. The cave is home to up to 3-million bats belonging to 12 species. Every day around 6pm, millions of bats exit the cave in spiraling, twirling lines to go hunt for food. I captured this image as a group of bats flew above us out of the cave followed by two Bat Hawks (the larger birds in the image seen to the right and left of the line of bats.) Mulu is part of the protected regions in Sarawak that make up part of the conservation initiative known as the Heart of Borneo. WWF plays a key role in supporting the implementation of the initiative.
4. Bornean Sun Bear
The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Center cares for and rehabilitates orphaned and captive sun bears until they can be released back into the wild. I caught this sun bear on camera enjoying a piece of sugar cane. The sun bear is found only in Southeast Asia and is the world’s smallest bear. WWF works with local communities, government organizations and other NGOs to protect the habitat of the sun bear. It also works to stem the rise in wildlife trade through its partnership with the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC.
5. Bornean Bearded Pig
Bornean bearded pigs in Bako National Park are often found trotting around the beach. The park is only reachable by sea on the tip of a peninsula where the Bako and Kuching rivers meet, so the only visitors are those visiting the park. Still, these curious pigs are used to seeing humans and are confident to get close enough to people to sniff for potential food. Feeding animals in the park is off limits, of course, but these pigs still try. Bornean bearded pigs live in rain forests and mangrove forests across Borneo.
6. Malayan Flying Lemur
This photo of a Bornean Sunda Colugo was pure luck. On a hike through the Danum Valley rain forest, the group I was with spotted a group of monkeys in the trees. While others were preoccupied with capturing shots of the monkeys, I turned around and spotted a red spot on a lower tree trunk that happened to be a colugo – a rare day time sighting, as these mammals are nocturnal and notoriously shy. The colugo is also known as the flying lemur, even though they do not fly and are not true lemurs. Colugos glide from tree to tree, supported by a large membrane of skin which extends between their limbs.
7. Long-tailed Macaque
These two long-tailed macaques were busy grooming each other on top of a park building in Bako National Park when I walked by. Bako is one of the smallest national parks in the Bornean state of Sarawak, but its multiple biomes harbor a great diversity of species. The park was one of the first parks where wildlife was surveyed in Borneo by WWF back in the early 1960’s.
8. Lantern Bug
Despite its name, and its light-bulb like “nose”, the lantern bug does not light up like a lantern. It is, however, very colorful, with striking patterns on its wings. I came across this one during a rain forest hike in Gunung Mulu National Park. The 210-square-mile tropical reserve is best known for its immense cave systems, but also harbors more than 3,500 different plant species and an impressive number of unique insects, birds, and mammals.
9. Melinau River
I captured this photo as our group traveled up the Melinau River within Gunung Mulu National Park. Mulu is part of the protected regions in Sarawak that make up part of the conservation initiative known as the Heart of Borneo. WWF plays a key role in supporting the implementation of the initiative.
10. Ants on a wire
I captured on camera this group of ants showing off their strength while making their way up a cable in Bako National Park. The park is only reachable by sea on the tip of a peninsula where the Bako and Kuching rivers meet and was one of the first parks where wildlife was surveyed in Borneo by WWF back in the early 1960’s.
11. Baby Wild Orangutan
I came across this baby wild orangutan with its mother while hiking through Borneo’s Danum Valley rain forest. The Conservation Area is the largest area of undisturbed lowland forest in Sabah. WWF teams surveyed this forest back in the mid-1970’s, recommending the area be placed under protection. This baby copied every move its mother made.