Victor Valley College Tropical Acclimatization


East Sabah, Malaysian Borneo
Sepilok Orangutan Rehab. Centre

Map of East Sabah around Sandakan
(click to enlarge)

The expedition met up in excellent Sepilok Jungle Resort. All the other expedition members flew out from California whilst I came over from the UK. We spent the first day at the world famous Orangutan Rehabilitation Center doing the usual tourist thing, watching the orangutan's being fed, and then doing a night walk to find herps to photograph.

Sepilok Jungle Resort.
Sepilok Orangutan Rehabitation Centre.

Generally I think the former was a big chance missed for the Center, and for the orangs and the public who flocked to the feeding platforms. Maybe it was just on our visit, but there was absolutely no information, no commentary about how orangutans were under threat, what the Center was doing or about the histories of the individual orangutans that turned up to be fed, and absolutely no information about the other wildlife around us. I believe there may have been a briefing earlier at the headquarters but a very large number of people, ourselves included, arrived just in time on the feeding platforms where we were presented with an information-free display of orangutans climbing and being fed by two mute attendants on a second platform level with us. I think this could be managed far better from the point of view of the visitors who would like more information. That could only be to the benefit of the Center and its charges in the long term.


Orangutan feeding station.

Orangutan feeding draws huge crowds.

Borneo orangutan, Pongo pygmaeus
Southern pig-tailed macaque, Macaca nemestrina


The herp night walks along the same boardwalks were quite productive. Several amphibians were seen including the Indian rice-paddy frog (Fejervarya limnocharis), a Pan-Asian species, and the more impressive Greater swamp frog (Linmnoectes ingeri). Skinks, including Black-banded skinks (Eutropis rudis), stayed just out of reach, and a Borneo anglehead (Gonocephalus bornensis) was found sleeping on a slender twig wher eit would be instantly alerted by the approach of an arboreal snake intend on devouring it. For herpers the best find was a couple of quite different Borneo temple pitvipers (Tropidolaemus subannulatus) in low vegetation right by the boardwalk. We also found a clutch of Asian colubrid eggs and another small snake shot across the road just outside the gates, in front of one of the less herp orientated members of the group.

click on an image to enlarge
Greater swamp frog, Limnonectes ingeri
Indian rice-paddy frog, Fejervaya limnocharis
Black-banded skink, Eutropis rudis
Borneo anglehead, Gonocephalus bornensis
Eggs of Asian colubrid snake
Borneo temple pitviper, Tropidolaemus subannulatus
Borneo temple pitviper, Tropidolaemus subannulatus

Mark O'Shea at Sepilok Jungle Resort
downloading GPS data from Jobo PhotoGPS to GoogleEarth on his MacBook Pro.

Being at Sepilok also gave me the chance to play with some new technology, a device for use on a camera that records GPS coordinates when the shutter is triggered.

Manufactured by the German company Jobo, it proved to be extremely disappointing, it would later place images taken in Timor-Leste, thousands of miles southwest, back in Borneo.

It seems the problem lies with the server, from which the Jobo Photo GPS obtains its data, not having accurate data for remote locations. So until this problem is rectified this device will only be useful for people taking photographs in Europe.