Nuffnang Space

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Encounters in the Mangrove Forest

Our guide told us to be well-prepared for our trip to the Bako National Park in Sarawak. I was well-prepared for our trip - translated, that means camera batteries fully-charged.

When we reached the jetty to catch our boat ride to the park, the first thing that caught my attention was the photo opportunity. Those boats were fabulous, I thought. Light four-seater motor boats that would be great for skimming the waves to get us there in no time.

 Then I looked  up at the notice. See what it says:

Oh! Beware of crocodiles! There are crocodiles in the river? Maybe a bigger, sturdier boat is in order? Anyway, I got into the boat nervously and was handed a life-jacket that our guide, Wan, said was absolutely imperative for us to put on. I heartily approved of that regulation. Soon, all thoughts of a possible crocodile encounter left my mind as the scenery in front of me made me snap away happily. Here we were, on the South China Sea!

A  Watery Wednesday shot.

We reached the jetty, and our guide pointed out to us, with nonchalance, that carnivorous mangrove swamp creature that dwelled in the mud, had bulging eyes and, you're wrong, he was not pointing to a wild crocodile, but to that strange creature which is fish, but lives on land. Yup, the mudskipper is literally a fish out of water!It is really carnivorous, by the way.

Fascinating aren't they? They walk on their pectoral fins! They are hard to photograph, for they are tiny, (those in the picture above are about an inch to two inches long) and they move fast and keep retreating to their burrows. Wonder why they're always doing that, we were not predators! Maybe their babies were calling for them. They raise families in their burrows, did you know? I was quite happy that our first encounter with a swamp creature was not with a crocodile. Now you know how much of an adventurer I am!

Aha! This is a good sign. I mean this is a good indication of the presence of the kind of forest creatures that we were all very excited to meet. Our tree-dwelling relatives! That sign makes me think that thetr might be some monkeys there plucking coconuts and dropping them to the ground. Logical assumption, I am sure. Not long after we had landed, we got to meet our first tree-dweller. We were fortunate that our guide was alert to the slight movements among the branches. Wan signalled us to look up and, what do you know, we saw this broad back of a primate; I couldn't tell what species it was, and it refused to turn to look at us.

We were whispering so as not to frighten it away, and for the next ten to fifteen minutes, most of us on the ground were busy photographing this anonymous posterior! Then he looked upwards, and we caught a glimpse of his profile. He's the Dutchman of Borneo!!! Yes, that profile, that long nose...unmistakable!

Can you imagine how thrilled we were to meet this proboscis monkey practically face to face!? We had arrived here quite early in the morning, and apparently, these monkeys which sleep near the river, start the day by feeding and then move on further into the jungle later in the day.

It is sad to note that the proboscis monkey is an endangered species, but fortunately there are parks like the Bako National Park that protects the remaining population.

Aww, look at that adorable face...

As we moved further inland, we saw many long-tailed macaques. These are easy to spot because they are bigger in population, here. They are said to be among the most successful of primates as they flourish in a wide range of habitats. I guess the reason for this is they are not picky eaters. They are omnivorous, and even  scavenge for food from left-overs in rubbish bins.

Here in this picture above, the macaque was contemplating what else to have for lunch, after an entree of tropical leaves and berries. Look at what  is available for the main course:


 in our haven, stress
burrow deep or be eaten 
live another day

(For Sensational Haiku Wednesday, prompt - Stress)

There are also hermit crabs...

and oysters!!!

These mangrove oysters anchor on to mangrove roots and rocks and feed on the algae that  is washed over the oyster beds. Isn't that an ingenious need to go look for lunch, the lunch comes to you. And did you know that the oysters will change their gender once or more in their lifetime?

We were walking along a footpath when we met this family of Mum and her triplets. We kept our distance, as you don't know when Mummy Wild Pig might take offence and charge at us. This was certainly one of the highlights of our visit.

You wouldn't want to rile this lady. Just look at her!

The babies have watermelon stripes. Cute, aren't they?

The next creatures we encountered are probably the most dangerous. They are green vipers, and our guide found them in some bushes. There were two varieties, but I didn't want to get near enough for a look, so my 'better half' proved himself worthy of that title and photographed the snakes while I kept my distance.

I was happier taking photographs of butterflies and dragonflies!


We'll leave these mangrove forest creatures for now, and this image below, of their habitat makes me think they have it really good, living in their intertidal paradise.

My Skywatch Friday photograph


interwoven lives
impossible on one's own
cling on to your rock


  1. Your photos are just fantastic, Rosie! Not many have the chance to do what you did. Thanks for sharing! And the haiku are marvellous!


  2. Wonderful nature trail and wow!! what a variety!! It is impossible to be out there alone, what with all the creepy crawlies :o Such a fantastic place Sarawak is and you have done a magnificent job to get it in our homes for us!!

  3. live another day,, so positive thoughts..

  4. Autumn is becoming one of my favorite seasons! I always searching for real nature photographs on every morning walk. Your blog post reminds me my fun work of autumn days.

  5. do they allow just anyone to scrape those oysters off from the rocks?