Bako - Wildlife
The best times for seeing wildlife at Bako are just after dawn
and just before dusk, when the animals are at their most active.
You are more likely to see animals on the trails if you go in small
groups, walk slowly, keep as quiet as possible, and listen out for
sounds and movements in the forest. For example, you are likely
to hear a strange grunting sound or the crash of leaves long before
you actually see a Proboscis monkey.
Telok Assam, the area around the HQ, is a great place for seeing
wildlife. Long-tailed macaques, silvered leaf-monkeys, common water
monitors, plantain squirrels, wild boar and mouse deer are all found
here. Watch out for the macaques as they are possibly the most fearless
monkeys on earth. They will raid dustbins and kitchen in the resthouses,
or scamper into the canteen to steal food or an unguarded bag. Keep
all doors locked and never encourage them by offering food. In contrast
to the unruly macaques, the silvered leaf-monkey or silvered langur
is a docile and attractive creature. Adults have silver-grey fur
and a spiky crest of head hair, whilst the infantd are covered in
bright orange fur.
Bako is also home to approximately 150 rare proboscis monkeys,
found only in Borneo. The male is an odd-looking creature, with
a huge pendulous nose and a large pot belly, weighing in excess
of 20kg. Both male and female are covered in reddish-brown fur with
grey limbs and a white tail. They are mostly arboreal (tree-dwelling),
moving about the forest or mangroves in small groups and feeding
on young leaves, shoots, sour fruits and seeds. Although it requires
some patience, a jungle encounter with a group of proboscis is likely
to be the highlight of your trip to Bako. The best times are early
in the morning or in the hours before dusk. You will need to be
in position by 6am or 5pm. Telok Delima and Telok Paku are the best
trails for viewing the proboscis.
Otters are delightful creatures to watch, and two species are found
at Bako - the Oriental Small-Clawed Otter and the Hairy-Nosed Otter.
They spend most of their time in the water, feeding on fish, frogs
and other small animals. Oriental small-clawed otters are occasionally
seen at Sungai Assam. swimming in the river or running across the
mud searching for food. hairy-nosed otters are sometimes seen early
in the morning around the mangroves at Telok Assam.
The largest mammal found at Bako is the Bornean Bearded Pig. As
its name implies, it is distinguished from other wild pigs by prominent
bristles either side of its snout. Bearded pigs are often found
around the park HQ scavenging for food or wallowing in mud.
A number of lizards are found at Bako. The largest is the common
water monitor, olive green in colour and reaching a length of 2
metres. Young monitors are green with yellow spots and therefore
easier to see. They are strong swimmers and can stay submerged for
a considerable length of time. Monitors are scavengers, feeding
on carrion and accasional live prey. They are often found near the
accommodation area or near the boat jetty, scavenging for scraps
of food. You may also see their tracks at the park's beaches.
The small, brownish grey, Skink or Sun Lizard is often seen basking
on rocks at the beach or scerrying away from the paths. The attractive
Green Crested Lizard, common throughout the park, is usually bright
green but is capable of changing colour if alarmed. Flying Lizards
are occasionally seen launching themselves from tree trunks and
glising through the air.
Bako is home to a number of snakes, most of which are harmless.
They are well camouflaged, and usually slide off into the undergrowth
at the first sign of danger. The Grass Green Whip Snake is easily
recognised by its bright colour, pencil-thin body and long snout.
The Paradise Tree Snake's black upper body is marked with green
spots whilst its underside is yellow-green with red spots. The only
poisonous snake that is occasionally seen is the Wagler's Pit Viper
which, like all Pit Vipers, Has a broad, flat, triangular head.
Bako is a fascinating place for bird watching, as over 150 species
have been recorded here. Although many of these can be seen around
the resthouses, you need to hit the trails to appreciate the full
variety of Bako's bird life. The mangroves at Telok Assam are an
excellent place to start. Serious bird watchers should take a good
pair of binoculars and the Pocket Guide to the Birds of Borneo,
which is widely available in Kuching.
Rock pools and mangroves are good places to search for small animals
such as mudskippers and crabs, especially sky-blue fiddler crabs,
especially sky-blue fiddler crabs and shell-dwelling hermit crabs.
Bako also has its fair share of insects. Watch our for them on the
forest floor and hear them everywhere.
Bako's nocturnal creatures include the flying lemur, pangolin,
mouse deer, various bats, tarsier, slow loris and palm civet. If
you take a night walk through the forest near the Park HQ you may
catch sight of some these creatures, and you will certainly hear
crickets, and you will certainly hear crickets, frogs, and maybe
owls. The beach by the park HQ is also a great place for a night
walk. If the tide is out you may see crabs, prawns, anemones, starfish,
annelid worms and young shrimp in the small pools.