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Borneo & the Big Five

We spent five days on the island of Borneo, Malaysia. We stayed at the Sukau Lodge, which is one of National Geographic's Unique lodges of the world. Everyday you can go on a morning and afternoon river tour where you can see all sorts of cool animals.

Once you are on the boat, the guides insist that you wear a life jacket. This wouldn't be that odd if there weren't crocodiles lurking in the water with a bite force stronger than any other animal alive. If you fell in, the only thing about the life jacket that would help you is that the croc's jaws would have to go through it before you. Other than that, all the other animals are pretty amazing and don't want to kill you (it's not Australia after all). To prove that further, we later learned that crocodiles love to hunt and they love it so much in fact that they won't take 'free food' unless they are starving. Borneos "Big Five" as our guide, Hamit, called it are: Crocodile, Pygmy Elephant (yes that is such a thing), Proboscis Monkey (a recent addition I think), the Orangutan, and the Rhinoceros Hornbill bird.

The Pygmy Elephant looks like a herd of baby elephants, and then you see a baby Pygmy Elephant and you think, "Wow those are small elephants!". The Pygmy Elephants also have tusks that grow inward and not outward like the Indian and African Elephants.

The Proboscis Monkey looks like a regular monkey with a weird nose handicap that causes their nose to "hang low and wobble to and fro". That is why I think that they are a recent addition to the list. Borneo is also home to the Pygmy Rhino and Pygmy Giraffe (just kidding about the second one). The Pygmy Rhino went virtually extinct in the wild last year so they needed to replace it. Since the Pygmy Giraffe isn't real, they probably had to settle with the weird nosed monkey. Apparently the Proboscis uses it's strange nose to amplify their call (when there is danger or when they are trying to attract a female), but I think that's just what they tell scientists because it's a sensitive subject.

"Orang Utan" as it is spelled here, means "Man of the Forest" because Orangutans are so human like, in fact we share 97% of our DNA with them. Some scientists even argue that we are more closely related to them then we are to chimps. Male Orangutans are known for large cheek packs that grow on the sides of their face, but a little known fact is that not all males grow these, only males who have no fear of other males in their 1.5km territory will grow these. That means two males can't both be in the same area and have the large cheeks. If one male wants to become dominant, then they must fight the other dominant male and kill him. The one who wins has lost all fear and his cheeks will naturally grow packs as a result. Pretty cool!

Finally the Rhinoceros Hornbill. There are six different species of Hornbill birds in Borneo. The Rhinoceros Hornbill is the biggest and looks like a Toucan with a large pink horn on the top of it's large bill. It's an amazing bird to see. It uses its horn to amplify it's call which is a bit more believable than with the Proboscis Monkey. I really enjoyed seeing tons of different bird species and other different animals including all of the big five.

Overall, traveling to Borneo was amazing and it was full of great wildlife that can be found nowhere else in the world.

Thank you for your patience and keeping up with our blog! We have been extremely busy and struggling to find wifi, making posting updates a struggle. More to come soon!

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