Friday, 24 May 2013

Danum Valley 2013 - Nocturnal mammals that roamed around the field centre

There were a few nocturnal mammals that roamed around Danum Valley Field Centre (DVFC) during the night. I was told by my researcher friend that Malay Civets were commonly seen during the night, scavenging for food. So I collected some left-over lunch and dinner and placed at a open area just outside my room before midnight.

Having my camera setup, I waited...

There was a lamp turned on at the walkway of the rest house. I could barely see if an animal passed by. Past midnight, 1 am, an animal suddenly appeared in my viewfinder. It was huge! I knew it was definitely too big for a Malay Civet! Excited, I held my breath and tried to focus my camera. Sh*t ... my D600 simply refused to lock on. It was my first time I used my newly-bought D600 in the field. I knew that under this low light condition, my D300s would have no problem locking focusing. There's no time to waste as it was closing in to the left-over food. I became desperate and shined my torchlight on it.  It was a Bearded Pig.
Nikon D600 with AFS 70-300 VR, SB900,  f8, 1/125, ISO 800
Nikon D600 with AFS 70-300 VR, SB900,  f8, 1/125, ISO 800
Nikon D600 with AFS 70-300 VR, SB900,  f8, 1/125, ISO 800 

I managed a few shots before the Bearded Pig swallowed the last bit of the left-over food and wandered off. I knew I had to call it a night as there was no left-over for Malay Civet.

The following 2 nights, I was lucky. The Bearded Pig did not turned up. Instead Malay Civets came. Yes. Not one but at least 2 individuals came.

Nikon D600 with AFS 70-300 VR, SB900,  f8, 1/200, ISO 500
This individual was prowling around the vicinity of the rest house. It was shy at first, running away when I shined at it. But I guessed it picked up the smell of the food and kept coming back.
Nikon D600 with AFS 70-300 VR, SB900,  f8, 1/200, ISO 500
Below was an old individual, it had cataract on its right eye.
Nikon D600 with AFS 300mm f2.8 VR (now replaced by Nikon 300mm f/2.8G AF-S ED VR II ), SB900,  f8, 1/125, ISO 800
Nikon D600 with AFS 300mm f2.8 VR (now replaced by Nikon 300mm f/2.8G AF-S ED VR II ), SB900,  f8, 1/125, ISO 800
I wasn't so lucky on the last 2 nights at DVFC. I waited until 2am. Nothing came. Probably due to the rain in the evening triggering the animals to emerge late. :(

My Setup

  • Nikon D600 24.3MP FX Digital SLR Camera with Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF AF-S VR  mounted on Benro Travel Angel Tripod position at the doorstep of my room.
  • Nikon AF-S 300mm f2.8 VR I (now replaces by Nikon 300mm f/2.8G AF-S ED VR II  )
  • 1 x SB900 (now replaced by SB-910 ) mounted on a Tamrac TR406 ZipShot Compact Ultra-Light Instant Tripod off-camera
  • 1 x Canon 550EX Speedlite
  • Flash triggers PT4

How to Get There?

Danum Valley is a located in Sabah, East Malaysia on an island of Borneo.  It is about 2-3 hours drive from the nearest town Lahad Datu. 

To get there,

  1. Book a flight to Kota Kinabalu, the capital state of Sabah. You can fly in from major cities like Guangzhou, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Taipei,Seoul, Manila, Denpasar/Bali.
  2. Fly domestic via MASwings to Lahad Datu.
  3. Arrange for transport if you are staying in Borneo Rainforest Lodge.

Where to Stay?

I would highly recommend Borneo Rainforest Lodge. The accommodation is great and the food is excellent. They have very professional guides. Night tours are also conducted. All these come at a cost of course.

I would not recommend DVFC as it is a facility meant for researchers. They are not so into eco-tourism.  Accommodation and food are just sufficient.  It is less expensive though.


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