Tag Archive: Sandakan


03.09.13 Sandakan

For those of a certain age Sandakan evokes emotional memories. However, leaving that aside for the purposes of this blog, provides a jump off point and an insight on the changing dynamic within an area of northern Borneo that is a fiercely independent state (Sabah) striving to come to terms with the modern world. Historically and more recently its economy revolves around  the harvesting of copious quantities of rare forest timber. Latterly the growing and prodigious tourism opportunities beckon. The infrastructure for this is still developing.

Hornbill

Hornbill

Proboscis monkey

Proboscis monkey

Troop of Proboscis monkeys.

Troop of Proboscis monkeys.

Date Palm fruits.

Date Palm fruits.

There are numerous opportunities to see Proboscis Monkeys,Forest Rhino, Sea Turtles, ( Hawks bill, Greenback and Leather back), prolific bird life of the forest including Sea Eagle, Hornbill, Kingfisher, etc. The profundity of more rarely viewed species include King Cobra and Clouded Leopard. Wild life proliferates everywhere. Plants and flowers of such colour and vibrancy that staggers the eye.

Y’know it’s hard to imagine that such a short time ago, one was in a metropolitan environment filled with the podium pumping, testosterone fueled machinations of the political ‘Zeitgeist’ (ergo will we go to war with Syria or not) devoid of any of the tastes, smells, and steady drumbeat of the “natural” cycle of life.

Hoping to travel up to the very northern tip of Borneo Sabah, to a place call Kudat which has a tribe of people that live in “Long houses” for a homestay. Then, provided that one can negotiate a good price out to Pulau Banggi island one of the remote islands to the north in the Sulu sea.

Water buffalo.

Water buffalo.

Scramble The babies are released just shy of the surf so that their location will still be imprinted somewhere deep in their developing navigation memory so they may return to the same spot many years later.

Scramble
The babies are released just shy of the surf so that their location will still be imprinted somewhere deep in their developing navigation memory so they may return to the same spot many years later.

Still thinking of those little Turtles scampering down the beach in the bright moonlight headed out to sea, and who knows what?

Not unlike the ubiquitous snapshot of a Gorilla sheltering under a large hand held rainforest leaf, your host and interlocutor awaits a break in the “soggy onslaught”from sullen skies . Travelled south to meet our progeny and Yuya, who had arrived from Tokyo two days earlier, then hopefully off into the wild blue yonder to sunnier climes. Used the opportunity to visit relatives in Farnborough, which was pleasing as it had been far too long since seeing them. Flew from Heathrow to Hong Kong on the 20.08.13 and then on to Kota Kinabalu on the 23.08.13. Keen to get north further into Sabah, we took an overland six hour bus trip to Sandakan, where we were hoping to see the sea-turtle hatchlings on a small island fourty minutes north by fast boat.

Location of Kota Kinabalu district and the cit...

Location of Kota Kinabalu district and the city within the West Coast Division of Sabah. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)oat.

Sandakan Harbour

Sandakan Harbour (Photo credit: Tianyake)

English: Kota Kinabalu City Mosque at Sabah, M...

English: Kota Kinabalu City Mosque at Sabah, Malaysia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sea-Turtle tracks

Sea-Turtle tracks

Sea Turtle Nature Reserve

Sea Turtle Nature Reserve

Prepared Pod

Prepared Pod

Newly hatched

Newly hatched

DSCF4098

Scramble

Scramble

Island paradise.

Island paradise.

Will be in Sandakan for a few days as there are many other locations and sights to see most notably the “Proboscis Urangutan” which is indigenous to the area and some cave systems.

It is amazing that sea-turtles, (we were told) survived the mass estinctions that the dinasaurs suffered.

They have longevity stamped in their DNA. Perhaps because of their ultra placid demeanor. However their lives are not without stress, for instance when mating it appears that it is not unusual for females to drown due to the attentions of six or seven males perches on her back (in a column) at sea, each waiting his turn for insemination. The Hawks-bill and the Leather-back seem to be particularly attracted to this area of offshore northern Borneo. However their situation is somewhat challenged as there appears to be a large market for sea-turtle eggs because they are reputed to have aphrodisiac qualities, a claim that is somewhat dubious. However this does not prevent a strong and thriving black market in the product of ignorance and tradition.
Among other demands on their survival is the delicacy known as turtle soup. Until peoples eyes are opened through programes of education to the harm that is being wrought on the species, I guess work of these reserves will have to go on.
But I suppose this is also true of, Whale hunting, Shark fin harvesting, over fishing in general etc.Wherever one looks we have had an abysmal record. Homo Sapiens have an awful history of undermining the natural environment both on land and in the sea and is only latterly engaged in somewhat tentative efforts in preserving it for future generations.

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