Six days in North Sulawesi at two main locations followed by five days in Borneo (Sabah) at two locations and six flights during this trip. What was initially planned as a short trip to Sulawesi to see Tarsiers in the wild quickly changed into a full herping trip. Frank wanted to go somewhere new so decided to join Kat and I, then we decided to join him in his on going Borneo (Sabah) quests. Overall an amazing trip, Sulawesi being especially good with it’s many endemic species and at times we felt like the only foreigners around. The discovery of species not known previously would probably be quite easily achieved there.
Borneo was challenging as predicted with very heavy rains but with some solid efforts we could find a nice number of species in the limited nights we had there.
The success of the trip would not have been possible without the help of Ateng, Roy and Bayu from Sulawesi. Thanks also to Peter, John, Kenneth, Tom and Kurt for some sneaky hints on Borneo.
Sulawesi is a fascinating island, a clear bridge between S-E Asia and Australasia with species from both continents as well as a high number of endemics. Overall species numbers seem to be lower compared to Borneo to the west and Papua New Guinea to the East but one of those endemics, the Sulawesi temple viper (Tropidolaemus laticinctus) was one of our main targets. I am hugely grateful to Ateng for showing us the mammal and birdlife of Tangkoko NP and then we went off by ourselves for the second three days further south in search of the desired viper. During one such forest trek looking for mammals I was very lucky to stumble across a King cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) which is not often seen on Sulawesi.
I had heard that searching on Borneo was hard. It turned out all those people were right! However the higher altitude areas of Sabah are great for amphibians and I finally managed to find the iconic and widespread Malayan horned frog (Megophrys nasuta). Frank’s obsessive target in Sabah was Malcolm’s pit viper (Trimeresurus malcolmi) which he had missed during his two previous visits to Borneo, we finally struck lucky with that species on our final night. Overall snake numbers seemed to be low compared to other places in S-E Asia despite a huge array of species occurring there and most people visiting here complain of the struggles of searching for long periods without finding a legless reptile. Fortunately we had a very successful final two nights, which compensated for our poor results in the first few days.