Bart, our guide was tip-toeing on the forest floor, whistling gently while tracking down on this elusive feathered winged creature. We followed along and with our cameras ready. Not long after I remembered that I had left my torchlight at our sleeping den. And so, I had to dash back to our campsite to grab my torchlight.
On my way back to the position of Bart and Aida, a Crested Serpent Eagle (Spilornis cheela) was up above me spreading its wings to dry. Wow!
That eagle was not what Bart was going after. Suddenly, I saw Bart's eyes went big and was signalling us to come quickly. He caught it!
We couldn't believe that Bart got this Black-Headed Pitta (Pitta ussheri) to stay on as it was curious with Bart's whistling. We had almost 10 minutes to "drool on" this pretty Pitta until it realised that we were not the same feathered kind. Aida's and my lifer!! In that 10 minutes, we had totally ignored the mosquitoes around us and the high humidity of the forest.
As we continued on the trail, we found ourselves walking up a short steep slope and then scrambling up on rocky terrain.
Hundreds of bats greeted us at the entrance of the cave. The wind welcomed us and gave us a cooling effect on our bodies. The strong smell of guano tickled our nose as we walked on soft carpet of guanos. I was intrigued with the dung beetles (Scarabaeidae) that crawled out each time we lifted up our legs off the guanos. Unfortunately, I couldn't get to photograph them because when those beetles crawled out, they quickly dug themselves into the fresh guanos again.
This cave is Gua Batu Supu, according to Bart. Gua Batu Supu is one of sites in Sabah where the dead people were placed in log coffins and left in caves. Based on a writeup by Yunus Sauman on Cave Burials in Sabah, there are at least 13 sites with ancient log coffins in Sabah. The tradition is still being carried on today by some local tribes, including the Dusun Sungai community at Tongod and Ulu Kinabatangan and the Dusun Segama groups at Kampung Tawayari, Ulu Segama.
Bart showing the log coffin
Log coffin but where are the remains??
Some log coffins are known to have craved designs like a buffalo, snake, crocodile, tongue, fish's tail or even a plant. These designs in places such as the
reflect the close links of local folk with their natural surroundings. Kinabatangan Basin
Some strange lights?
Sunray puntured through the darkness
Amazing cave! I was reluctant to leave the cave but it was time to move on. We decamped and on board the boat down river back to the jetty in the pouring rain.
Rain clouds ahead of us before it started to pour
From Kampung Mengaris, Kinabatangan, where we waited by the road for our bus ...
The pictures above and below is a totem pole completed by venturers of Raleigh International
A species of stick insect picture was managed to be taken just in time before the bus arrived
to the place where the Man of the Forest gathers...
Many thanks to Bart for showing us around. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org, for request of a nature guide in Kinabatangan River.
1. Cave Burials in Sabah by Yunus Sauman
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