Bird Photography / Borneo / Travel / Wildlife

Kinabatangan Wildlife Photography

13 Jan ’16

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Following my previous articles on Borneo (Into the Jungles of Borneo and Wildlife Photography in Danum Valley) here is the third place we visited to photograph wildlife. We drove up the east coast of Sabah from Tawau to Sepilok in order to spend a few days in the Kinabatangan area of Borneo.

One of the highlight species from boat trips in this area was the Proboscis Monkey (Nasalis larvatus). The name given by local people to these large monkeys with their round bellies and strange red noses is ‘Dutch monkeys’ as they were considered such a caricature of the Dutch sailors and plantation owners of the area. This incredible species is listed as Endangered under the IUCN red list due primarily to severe habitat loss over the past 40 years. They are endemic to the island of Borneo and are found all over coastal Borneo (Brunei, Kalimantan Indonesia, and Sabah and Sarawak Malaysia).

Due to my eagerness to spend more time with this particular group of monkeys we stayed longer than the other boats and got to see some great behaviour from the group. They were all settling in for the night, finding the perfect spot to sleep and the good spots were fiercely defended.

Proboscis Monkey in Kinabatangan

proboscis monkey Nasalis larvatus 1O9A0706

proboscis monkey Nasalis larvatus 1O9A0772

proboscis monkey Nasalis larvatus 1O9A0648

One of the other primate highlights of the trip was a Bornean Gibbon (Hylobates muelleri) that Rachel spotted a few minutes before the end of our last boat trip! He did not stay on the branch for very long and this was the closest we could get to this species during our three months in Sabah but it was an amazing encounter nonetheless.

Bornean Gibbon Hylobates muelleri 1O9A0283

The most common bird along the river at night was by far the buffy fish owl (Ketupa ketupu). We saw nearly 10 in just a few hours of spotlighting.

Buffy Fish Owl Ketupa ketupu 1O9A0971

A black and red broadbill (Cymbirhynchus macrorhynchos) posing proudly. I was napping (or trying to…) during the hottest hours of the day when in my semi-conscious state I heard the call from this species. It sounded very close so I jumped out of bed, grabbed the camera and only had to walk 15m to find the bird sitting at near eye-level. Their blue bill is incredible. Although not an endemic it is probably one of the coolest birds you can find, in my opinion, the colours are just amazing.


We got a few fly overs from oriental pied hornbills (Anthracoceros albirostris). This one landed just close enough for a good photo opportunity, sitting nicely in the morning light.

oriental pied hornbill Anthracoceros albirostris 1O9A0108

The punk rocker of the jungle… White-crowned hornbill (Berenicornis comatus) sitting in the trees near camp.

white-crowned hornbill Berenicornis comatus 1O9A0445

After long sessions of trawling the rivers of the Kinabatangan to photograph wildlife it was great to rest and take ownership of one of the hammocks at Uncle Tan’s Wildlife Camp.

Uncle Tan's Wildlife Camp 1O9A0365

Check out our Borneo – Wildlifephotography video below.



I am a nature photographer specialising in wildlife photography. I have a special passion for this type of photography which comes from my background as an ecologist & conservation biologist.

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