Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Singapore's Wild Glider - Malayan Colugo

Malayan Colugo gliding (Photographed in Central Catchment Nature Reserve)

The Malayan Colugo is one of the elusive forest creatures which can be found in our Central Catchment Nature Reserve. It is so unique that biologists place it in its own order Dermoptera, which means "skin-wings" - and it's easy to see why: Malayan Colugo has membranes that extend from its neck and the sides of the body to the fingertips, toes and even the tail. When spread out, it enables colugos to glide.  These magnificent creatures have been observed to glide over 100 metres!


Malayan Colugo taking off from a tree.
(Photographed in Central Catchment Nature Reserve)
A pair on the same tree. Notice the differences in coloration.
(Photographed in Central Catchment Nature Reserve)
During the day, colugos spend many hours clinging to trunks or below branches. Their camouflaged fur helps them to blend into tree bark and make them less visible to predators.

Mum carrying a young.  (Photographed in Central Catchment Nature Reserve)

 The young clings under the adult's gliding membranes. Sometimes, buried itself under the membrane. Once a while, it pops its head out.  

An independent young colugo. (Photographed in Central Catchment Nature Reserve)
An adult licking on lichen on the tree bark. (Photographed in Central Catchment Nature Reserve)

The colugos needs mature forests with high amounts of canopy cover. In Singapore, they are threatened by habitat loss. 

The Central Catchment Nature Reserve is likely to be subjected to construction works of the Cross Island Line. You can read about it here. Some nature lovers are concerned about the impact of soil investigation work to our Central Catchment Nature Reserve. You can read about it here.

Singaporeans are fortunate to be able to see these magnificent creatures in our forest. Don't let them diminish from our little remain of forest habitat left! 

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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