16 Oct
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...two travellers in search of the world's wildlife

16 December 2010

Not all otters

10th December 2010

Hala Bala has lots of wildlife, but we’re spending so much time searching for otters that we haven’t seen as much as we could. This really is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see the hairy-nosed otter, though, so we’ve got to focus.

But in between days in the otter hide we’ve seen gibbons, langurs, macaques, hornbills, civets and the smallest raptor in the world – the black-thighed falconet, a whole 10mm smaller than the pygmy falcon (you remember, from Augrabies Falls in South Africa?).

Not many photos though; this is such pristine forest that the animals are very shy and don’t hang around. There’s lots of wildlife in our bungalow too, mostly of the insect variety including some beautiful moths. Why, only last night a feathery moth the size of a small bird flew up my trouser leg. Tickled like a fiend!

Our best sightings were on a night safari yesterday. If you’re interested in mammals, then by far the best way to see them in most environments is to go out at night, either on foot or in an open-top 4WD, with powerful spotlights. Most mammals are nocturnal, and any nocturnal animal’s eyes reflect light – so even something hidden in a tree will often reveal a pair of shining eyes if it looks towards you. We saw two kinds of civet, nightjars, and a flying squirrel which zipped over 100 metres between trees. The star of the night safari was the colugo. Nope, we hadn’t heard of it either. And it looks weird as hell, like a chihuahua wearing a batman cape.


Footnote: today we looked for small-clawed otters instead, and got two brief glimpses. Tomorrow we’re going back to the otter hide even earlier, at 3AM, for another shot at the hairy-nosed otter. Is it even worth going to bed?

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