Ronda J Green

Would you like to watch a wild orangutan mother building a nest for herself and her baby? A family of proboscis monkeys, with the strange, large noses, feeding in the trees nay the river as your boat quietly glides closer? Rhinoceros hornbills, pigmy elephants, gliding snakes … a tremendous diversity of wildlife remains in the lowland forests of Sabah, Borneo, that line the edges of the Kinabatangan River, second longest river in Malaysia. Depending on season, fruiting periods and other factors, some wildlife will be readily seen at some times than other, but there is always great variety, and of course there is always the peaceful and majestic forest and river themselves.

Okay, this is a book review, not a travel feature, but I have spent four wonderful days at Sukau Lodge on the banks of the Kinabatangan, exploring the river each day and evening in small, quiet electric boats that minimise disturbance to the animals we encountered. This book brings memories of those four very special days flooding back.

The author, Albert Teo, was a keynote speaker at our Wildlife Tourism conference in Adelaide in 2016, on “Running an ecolodge at the Kinabatangan River: Challenges and Opportunities”. I had previously met Albert at Ecotourism Australia conferences and was impressed by his presentations there. He is a champion of the kind of tourism that protects nature and acts positively for wildlife conservation and for the economic well-being and education of local communities. An Economics graduate of London University, he has worked in tourism since 1977, and in 1991 founded the excellent Borneo Eco Tours, with Sukau Rainforest Lodge following a few years later. Both have won international awards. Sukau has recently been endowed with a research centre for scientists and citizen scientists. He has also organized international ecotourism conferences, is a founding board member of the Global Ecotourism Network, member of various other relevant societies, and has been appointed Adjunct Lecturer in Edith Cowan University, Australian and Adjunct Professor in University Malaysia Sabah.

Albert is also a keen nature photographer, as is evidenced from this book. It would be hard for any nature-lover to view these photos and not want to see them for themselves.

The book introduces us, with text and photos, to the various kinds of forests the river winds through, then has an array of beautiful photos of many of the mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrates that dwell there, with some information on each of the groups and some selected species, followed by some notes on conservation issues and the way forward.

It will very soon be available as a very affordable e-book. I would suggest anyone with an interest in the wildlife of Southeast Asia to order a copy. It will really whet your appetite to visit the Kinabatangan when the global Covid crisis is sufficiently under control.