Friday, 5 September 2014

23rd - 24th August - Day 15-16; Shangri La Rasa Ria Resort, Sabah, Borneo

We had decided that we should get up early to enjoy the most of our last two days of the holiday.  If the weather was to go to form we would be due a rain storm in the afternoon, so we had taken the chance to book a visit to the Orang Utan Rehab centre they have at the Rasa Ria. 

We were by the pool at 7:30, and despite the length of the shadows the sun was already very hot.  The view out across the beach was quite dramatic with the long shadows of the palm trees.

I had a walk around the gardens as there were small birds buzzing about and settling in the trees and palms.  I managed to photograph this Red-throated Sunbird feeding on the palm tree flowers.

Further along I found this Common Iora, we had seen a few in the different locations but this was the best photographic opportunity I had.

Another first from a photographic point of view was this Oriental Magpie Robin.

As the morning went on we enjoyed the sunshine and the facilities.

Early afternoon and it was our time to visit the Orang Utan reserve.  The Shangri-La's Rasa Ria Resort started out with an Orang utan Care project that aimed to rehabilitate the most iconic species in Sabah. Today though, a Nature Reserve has been established in collaboration with the State Wildlife Department with the aim of protecting a 64 acre ecological space to help facilitate rehabilitation programmes for more endangered species of faunas endemic to Sabah.

The greatest threat to Orang utans is habitat loss due to mechanised logging. Under ideal conditions, these solitary animals roam the forest in search of widely distributed food sources. The reduction of suitable habitats is forcing Orang utan populations into smaller areas, which cannot support them. In addition, Orang utans have a slow reproductive rate. Females have only one baby every 7 to 8 years.

Young Orang utans are also threatened by poachers who capture them to be sold as pets. The mother is often shot in order to gain access to the baby.  This programme takes young abandoned Orang utans, cares for them and looks to rehabilitate them into the wild by replacing the teaching they would normally get from their mother.  Once they reach a suitable age, typically around 6-8 years old they will be transferred to the Sepilok centre for the next phase of their rehabilitation, before hopefully reaching the final step, release into the jungle in Tabin.

The reserve had three youngsters, two males aged four, and a female aged three.  As with Sepilok the area they live in is natural to the habitat of Borneo, and there are trees producing fruit.  As a result they may not appear at the feeding station.  However we were lucky and the two males were present, and we were treated to some lovely scenes

Leaving the Orang utans and returning back to the pool the cloud came over masking some of the sunshine, but thankfully it never rained, only our second day without rain on the holiday.  The cloud also produced a spectacular sunset as we sat and enjoyed the Happy Hour.

Next day we were up early again, today though we had a hard stop at 14.30, as we were having to leave at 16:00 for our long journey home.

Once again there was some activity early on around us in the trees and out on the beach.  A pair of White-breasted Woodswallows had been flying around yesterday, but this morning they were settled on one of the floodlights.  Clearly they were a pair, and one could be seen bringing food for the other.

I finally managed to get a photograph of the lightning fast Munias, this is the Chestnut Munia

A House Swallow also perched nicely on one of the volley ball net poles.

It is quiet at the time we were up, and the reptiles take advantage of the warm boardwalk to fuel up first thing in the morning.  If you got to close they would scurry off under the boardwalk, where it appears they stayed during the day.

An amusing event was the arrival of a White-breasted Waterhen.  It kind of creeps about with a walk-run style, and appeared from behind a palm tree, and then searched under the vacant sun beds, before dashing off and away from us.

I went off to explore again, but couldn't find anything new about, however when I returned back to the sun beds, a black and white bird flew up into the tree above us.  This was a Pied Triller, and was to be the last new bird of the holiday.

We were both suffering a it from the last day fidgets, and Helen after returning to the room called me over to see something she had found.  I couldn't see it at first but as I searched under the sun bed she was pointing at, and eye was looking back at me, it was reminiscent of a scene from Jurassic Park.

It was a Monitor Lizard, not a big one, only a metre long, but like the waterhen, it had found out that there was the possibility of food under the beds.  It walked away from us, totally unconcerned with our presence.

As the sun rose higher we settled down for some final rays, and before we knew it the time to leave had come around.  It was the end of what we both called a “challenging” holiday.  It had been very hot and humid, and there were parts which in hindsight I would not have undertaken.  I wish too I had researched a little more into the potential for wildlife viewing in certain areas especially Sarawak.

That said I know we both have thoroughly enjoyed our time in Malaysia and Borneo.  We have experienced some wonderful encounters, met some very friendly people, and seen some amazing things.

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