Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Borneo: Laha Dahtu and the Danum Valley 1

This is Laha Dahtu, the gateway to the Danum Valley field conservation area. It was a kindof intimidating place, what with the guys with sewing machines and facebook t-shirts hanging about. I think everyone in Malaysia gets free satellite TV.

I have had my nose in jungle books since I was 4. This place was like a more diluted version of those books. Walks had to be done slowly, because there was so much detail.

There was a tree ladder platform, and we went up to the first level. It was intensely scary and unsafe but totally worth it.

We saw a giant squirrel up there, with great big tan fluffy paws. I saw a swarm of asian bees in a tree later on.

And these deer were common around the bunk houses.

I saw this guy when I was looking for something else and thought "Wow! A spider mimicking a fungus! Brilliant!" but then I realised that the spider had been infected and consumed from within by the fungus. Once it had its fill it sprouted a stem off the abdomen to seek new spider hosts.
I'd like to point out that this "Field Center" does host scientists, which is cool, but they also tenuously host tourists like us. Karin had to give them academic credentials to get a spot, and the place was completely empty. I know why. The center is an eco-tourism front for a massive state corporation which selectively logs portions of the surrounding forest. It is a "managed" forest, which I guess is better than the 400km of palm plantation that is the rest of Sabah. In the park there is a display of the bright shiny new building this corporation has built. It was obvious at that point that the money spent to build that tower came straight out of the rainforest I was standing in, and that every extra penny spent on it was another felled hardwood. It was a disgusting realisation, but a beautiful forest nevertheless.

More to come in Danum.

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