Tabin Day 2 – Clouded Leopard

Tabin Wildlife Reserve, Sabah, 12 May 2019.

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Birds, Clouded Leopard, Crested Serpent Eagle, Drongo, Gibbon, Hornbill, Landscape, Monitor Lizard, Nature, Photography, Sabah, Tabin, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Gibbon.

We were up very early in the morning and were able to observe a troupe of gibbons making their way past us, high in the trees, from tree to tree.  These are Müeller’s gibbons, or North Borneo gibbons.  Gibbons diverged from great apes around 17 million years ago and they live exclusively on fruit so do not need to descend from trees.  They move by brachiation, swinging from branch to branch, for distances of up to 15 meters per swing, and can move at remarkable speeds, up to 55 km/hr.

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Birds, Clouded Leopard, Crested Serpent Eagle, Drongo, Gibbon, Hornbill, Landscape, Monitor Lizard, Nature, Photography, Sabah, Tabin, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Pygmy squirrel.

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Crested serpent eagle.

After breakfast we went for a ride in a truck and then a walk in the rainforest.

 

Birds, Clouded Leopard, Crested Serpent Eagle, Drongo, Gibbon, Hornbill, Landscape, Monitor Lizard, Nature, Photography, Sabah, Tabin, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Agamid lizard (draco genus).

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Birds, Clouded Leopard, Crested Serpent Eagle, Drongo, Gibbon, Hornbill, Landscape, Monitor Lizard, Nature, Photography, Sabah, Tabin, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Draco Cornutis (green flying lizard).

It is not apparent here, but this fellow has flaps under its body that allows it to glide from tree to tree.

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Birds, Clouded Leopard, Crested Serpent Eagle, Drongo, Gibbon, Hornbill, Landscape, Monitor Lizard, Nature, Photography, Sabah, Tabin, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Monitor lizard.

In the late afternoon we went for another ride in the truck, photographing with a long lens from the open tray.

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Birds, Clouded Leopard, Crested Serpent Eagle, Drongo, Gibbon, Hornbill, Landscape, Monitor Lizard, Nature, Photography, Sabah, Tabin, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Drongo.

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Drongo.

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Birds, Clouded Leopard, Crested Serpent Eagle, Drongo, Gibbon, Hornbill, Landscape, Monitor Lizard, Nature, Photography, Sabah, Tabin, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Crested serpent eagle.

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Rhinoceros hornbills.

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Crested serpent eagle.

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It was after dark when we came upon another group who had seen a clouded leopard.  It had caught a civet and had settled down up a tree, behind the foliage. It wasn’t visible but we knew it was there so we waited. After about half an hour we caught a glimpse of a tail, which you may be able to see in the image above.

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Birds, Clouded Leopard, Crested Serpent Eagle, Drongo, Gibbon, Hornbill, Landscape, Monitor Lizard, Nature, Photography, Sabah, Tabin, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

After nearly an hour, the clouded leopard moved and we were able to see it through the foliage.

This is the Borneo subspecies of the Sunda clouded leopard.  The Sunda clouded leopard is endemic to Sumatra and Borneo, and separated from the mainland clouded leopard about three million years ago.  Note also that the clouded leopard is not a subspecies of leopard.  They are the sole members of the subfamily neofelis, whereas the subfamily panthera includes leopard, tiger, snow leopard, lion and jaguar. The Sunda clouded leopard is medium-sized, weighing 12 to 26kg.  Its flexible ankle joints allow it to climb down trees head first and it has the longest tooth size to head size of any cat, perhaps to help it hold on to prey in trees.  It is classified as vulnerable due to habitat loss as it is dependent on living in rainforest.

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Birds, Clouded Leopard, Crested Serpent Eagle, Drongo, Gibbon, Hornbill, Landscape, Monitor Lizard, Nature, Photography, Sabah, Tabin, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

I didn’t see the clouded leopard’s head but Damien Esquerré did and has kindly allowed me to show you this photograph.

Our guides said it was the first one they had seen for five years.

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Tabin Day 1

Tabin Wildlife Reserve, Sabah, 11 May 2019.

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Birds, Crested Serpent Eage, Hornbill, Landscape, Millipede, Monitor Lizard, Nature, Orang Utan, Photography, Pig Tailed Macaques, Sabah, Tabin, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Orangutan mother and baby.

On this day we travelled to Tabin Wildlife Reserve.  On the way we stopped at the Caves of Goomontong, at a huge cave populated with bats and swiftlets.  Lighting was fiendishly difficult there and I have no images to show you but on the walk back from the cave we encountered a wild orangutan mother and baby.  It looks as though they might be in a zoo but they’re just sitting on the steps of an abandoned building.

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Birds, Crested Serpent Eage, Hornbill, Landscape, Millipede, Monitor Lizard, Nature, Orang Utan, Photography, Pig Tailed Macaques, Sabah, Tabin, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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Millipede.

Now we are in Tabin in the later morning and I think this millipede was on a rail outside our room.  The difference between centipedes and millipedes is not the number of legs, it’s that centipedes have one pair of legs per segment whereas millipedes have two.

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Pig-tailed macaques.

It is now the late afternoon.  We might have been sitting around to escape the midday heat or it might have been raining.  I can’t remember which. You expect to encounter rain each afternoon and perhaps in the evening in Sabah but we were lucky in this trip and that only happened in Tabin.

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Birds, Crested Serpent Eage, Hornbill, Landscape, Millipede, Monitor Lizard, Nature, Orang Utan, Photography, Pig Tailed Macaques, Sabah, Tabin, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Pig-tailed Macaque.

We were photographing these images from the back of a small open truck.

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Birds, Crested Serpent Eage, Hornbill, Landscape, Millipede, Monitor Lizard, Nature, Orang Utan, Photography, Pig Tailed Macaques, Sabah, Tabin, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Monitor lizard and with something, maybe an insect, in his mouth.

Tabin Wildlife Reserve is a large island in a sea of palm oil plantations.  There is a lot of wildlife though most is secondary forest and it shows how much though not all of the wildlife will survive the largest trees being taken out, though the replacement of the forest for uses such as palm oil plantations is another matter.  There is also a much smaller island of primary forest, but that is not open to humans.

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Birds, Crested Serpent Eage, Hornbill, Landscape, Millipede, Monitor Lizard, Nature, Orang Utan, Photography, Pig Tailed Macaques, Sabah, Tabin, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Crested serpent eagle.

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White-crowned hornbill.

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Buffy fish owl.

We are now on a nighttime walk.

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Stick insect (probably Haaniella echinate), endemic to Borneo.

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Unidentified moth.

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