Sunday, 12 April 2015


This evening I am at Sepilok Nature Resort. For the next two days I am free to wander, to have clothes washed, to read the notes on my next two tours, to do nothing.

I can think of nowhere lovelier to do nothing. The gardens are full of flower friends from the world over: Eichhornia from South America, Costus and Heliconia too, Strelitzia and Plumeria from tropical gardens everywhere, Ravenala from Madagascar. Pandanus more magnificent than I have ever seen.



The garden at Sepilok Nature Resort

On the plane this morning (after a ninety-minute technical delay) I read the Malaysian New Sunday Times and came across four wildlife stories, each a painful indictment of humanity's wanton disrespect for nature. Many of these themes - traffic, poaching and feral species - will recur on my blog in the coming months with respect to various wild cats.

The saddest story of all to someone who has
visited Kaziranga numerous times and who loves
its rhinos

And here at Sepilok a model of the Sumatran rhino, a critically endangered
species, considered by IUCN to number 250 individuals.
In Borneo it is all but extinct, through human vanity and venality.

This afternoon I went for a short walk to the next resort to leave some laundry to be washed. Without binoculars (every naturalist should try it: it's liberating). The first bird I saw was an oriental pied hornbill, the second a Eurasian tree sparrow, the third an Asian black hornbill, and the fourth a zebra dove. Well, two zebra doves and soon to be more given what they were up to. One of these species bred in the churchyard of the village where I grew up. The savvier naturalists among you will know which.

I must thank, at this point, my new friend Quentin Phillipps who kindly gave me a copy of his Field Guide to the Birds of Borneo, who enthusiastically embraced my zany search for the Sunda clouded leopard, and who provided much instrumental advice. There will be more talk of him I'm sure.

The black hornbills called as I returned to my lodge. They sound precisely like scarlet macaws. But that is the story of a long-ago life in Bolivia.

The Bolivian patuj├║ bandera in
a Bornean garden

A Wildlife Trusts' t-shirt in Sabah

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