Part Two – Continuation of the first day
After our lunch at the lodge and checking into our rooms, we had about an hour or two to ourselves. John and I went and explored the lodge and the walkways through the forest surrounding the lodge.
Around 4pm, we left again on a smaller motorized boat to go upstream and look for more wildlife. There was talk of elephants being further upstream in the days prior. So our guide, Albert, said we would go a ways up river and then come back slowly looking for wildlife. I really wanted to see an elephant, but apparently it is quite rare.
We traveled upstream for about an hour without seeing much of anything. I was tired of sitting in boats and felt like it would be a waste of a trip as it seemed there was nothing to be seen in the thick forests lining the riverbanks.
We then came across a film crew who apparently had been sitting in the same spot since before noon and had seen some elephants crossing the river at noon – it was now 5pm and they said they were waiting for more.
We stopped for a moment and continued up a bit further, saw some more monkeys and turned around. This time when we stopped and our guide spoke to the driver of the film crew’s boat, they relayed to us that in fact about 50 pygmy elephants had emerged from the woods and swam across the large river. They also said one female had turned around and gone back in to the woods without crossing and there were two males that had not crossed.
As we sat on our boat talking, we began to hear movement in the bushes – big movement – not just monkey business. A few minutes later, the most amazing thing happened – a female elephant appeared on the riverbank.
We backed up our boat, as she was right near us, to give her room to cross. Then we watched an elephant swim all the way across the large Kinabatangan river. A-MAZ-ING!
She struggled getting up the bank on the other side of the river, but when she did and disappeared back into the forest we heard the cries of her herd as they greeted her.
Seeing an elephant in the zoo is one thing, seeing an elephant in the wild is quite another. I have seen elephants in Cambodia (and ridden them) but they were captive and forced to hang out in the city. The pygmy elephant is a smaller sub-species of the Asian elephant and only lives on Boreno.
Not only that, but the Borneo Pygmy elephant is endangered. There are only an estimated 1500 left on the island. Seeing one emerge from the jungle was such a rare and fantastic experience.
On the trip back to the lodge, we were able to see a number of other animals, including 4 species of monkeys (proboscis, long-tailed macaques, pig-tailed macaques and silver leaf monkeys), many birds – including 2 types of king fishers, and fireflies.
After dinner, we took a late evening walk behind the lodge to see birds ready to sleep, lizards, and lots of insects, moths & butterflies.