Victor Valley College Tropical Acclimatization


West Sabah, Malaysian Borneo
Pulau Tiga

Map of West Sabah south of Kota Kinabalu
(click to enlarge)


Water monitor, Varanus salvator macromaculatus


The expedition flew to Kota Kinabalu and drove to Kuala Penya to travel the 10kms to Pulau Tiga Resort. Shortly before Kuala Penya, a juvenile Water monitor lizard (Varanus salvator macromaculatus) was sighted beside the road.






Kuala Penya and ferry, jumping off point for Pulau Tiga.

Pulau Tiga was the location for a series of the reality show "Survivor" and the resport markets itself as Survivor Island. Pulau Tiga is also a national park with an extensive area of mangrove swamp dominated by the Mud lobster (Thalassina anomala), an important mangrove builder.

Pulau Tiga, location for "Survivor".
Mark O'Shea in mangroves, Pulau Tiga.
Burrow of the mangrove building
Mud lobster
, Thalassina anomala.

No amphibians were found on Pulau Tiga, such islands do not lend themselves to colonisation by saline-vulnerable frogs, but reptiles were in evidence. Apart from the ubiquitous Common house gecko (Hemidactylus frenatus), we also found Monarch gecko (Gekko monarchus) and Smith's giant gecko (G.smithi), although the latter was much less frequently encountered that the other two species. Also documented were on terrestrial skink, the Many-banded skink (Eutropis cf. multifasciata) and one arboral skink, the Borneo striped tree skink (Apterygodon vittatum).

click on an image to enlarge
Many-banded skink, Eutropis cf. multifasciata
Borneo striped tree skink, Apterygodon vittatum
Monarch gecko, Gekko monarchus
Monarch gecko, Gekko monarchus
Smith's giant gecko, Gekko smithi
Cannibalistic House gecko, Hemidactylus frenatus

Also discovered on Pulau Tiga, the Whip-scorpion (Hypoctonus sp.) is a large but harmless arachnid found under tree-bark and rotten logs.

Whip-scorpion, Hypoctonus sp.

Apart from herping on Pulau Tiga we made an excursion to Pulau Ular, an island slightly to the northeast famous for its Colubrine sea krait (Laticauda colubrina) population.

When it became time to leave Pulau Tiga a heavy storm had blown up. Since we had flights booked from Kota Kinabalu to Bander Seri Begawan (Brunei) we could not sit the storm out. I was necessary to load the boat by wading through the surf slightly further up the coast.


High seas make departure from Pulau Tiga's jetty impossible.
Loading boats would be difficult. Loading the boat further up the coast.

We missed the flight to Brunei and over-nighted in Kota Kinabalu. At the airport the bookshop was selling copies of two of the author's books. We flew to Bander Seri Begawan the following day.

Paul Freed, Mark O'Shea and Hinrich Kaiser at Kota Kinabalu International Airport. The author's books on sale at
Kota Kinabalu International Airport.