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Orangutans, Macaques and more..

On June 18th at 7am I was woken up by an excited answer phone message from Zainal, manager at the Danau Girang Field Centre....“Are you doing anything today, do you want to come to the centre a day early, the elephants have just passed through!” This was to be the start of a fantastic few days at the Danau Girang.

Orangutan in tree

Nine months earlier I was drawn to a story on the Cardiff University home page about the ‘orang-utans and elephants of Borneo’ and discovered that Dr Benoit Goosens had just set up a Centre in an isolated forested region of the country. Coincidently my partner and I had planned to visit South East Asia and so, as nature enthusiasts, I contacted Benoit and asked if it would be possible to visit. He was more than happy for a Cardiff University colleague to visit and in June this year (2009) we spent three days at the Centre.

Crested Green Lizard

The time that we spent in the care of the Danau Girang staff, from our pick up in the local town of Sandakan to our return through the crocodile filled waters of the Kinabatangan River, was better than anything that we could have imagined. In 48 hours we were lucky enough to observe a huge diversity of wildlife during our Jungle walks and river cruises. These included three grown orang-utans (and a baby clinging to the chest of one!), macaques, pygmy squirrels, wild boars, monitor lizards, crocodiles and the amazing Sabah pygmy elephant (don’t let this description fool you, they are not that small!). Everything about the place was amazing; the accommodation, the local Malaysian food, the Milo (a delicious chocolate drink that I still think about!) and particularly the people in the Field Centre - Zainal was full of fascinating information, the hospitality of the Malay team at the Field Centre was second to none and the resident students were extremely friendly and welcoming.

Cardiff University can be extremely proud of Benoit and the Centre. His hard work is undoubtedly paying off and he has created a truly special place which I feel privileged to have visited.

Thank you Benoit!

Sion Coulman