Travel Features > National Park & The Great Outdoors > Bako National Park

Commonly Seen Wildlife at Bako National Park

 

One of Bako's great attractions is its abundant wildlife. The Park is well established, having been a protected area since 1957, so the animals have grown accustomed to visitors. Furthermore, you do not have to go deep in the forest for a wildlife encounter. Telok Assam, the area around the HQ, is one of the best places in the park for a viewing a range of species.

The following paragraphs provide brief details of some of the animals commonly seen at Bako and where they are often found.


Proboscis Monkey


Proboscis Monkey
©Adventure Images Sdn. Bhd.
The rare proboscis monkey is only found in Borneo, and Bako is one of the most accessible places to view this fascinating creature. There are approximately 150 proboscis monkeys at Bako. The male is an outlandish creature. It has a huge nose, a large pot belly and weighs 20 kilograms. The upper parts of both male and female are covered in reddish-brown fur, the limbs are grey and the tail is white, while infants have a dark blue face. Proboscis monkeys are mostly arboreal (tree dwelling) and feed on young leaves, shoots, sour fruits and seeds. They move about the forest or mangroves in small groups. The best times to see the Proboscis are either early in the morning or in the few hours before dusk. Telok Delima and Telok Paku are the best trails for viewing them. Visitors who are prepared to wait quietly and patiently in the wooden shelters at Telok Assam may also be treated to an unforgettable wildlife experience. One group of 5 or 6 individuals regularly comes down from the nearby forest to feed at the mangroves in front of the shelter.


Long-Tailed Macaques

These highly intelligent monkeys are a delight to watch, and always mischievous. They live on the edge of the forest and congregate in large troops which roam the areas around the resthouses searching for food. When the tide is out they can be seen combing the mud-flats around the mangroves at Telok Assam. They are also quite common on the Telok Paku trail. Macaques normally eat ripe fruits, insects, frog's eggs and crabs although at Bako they are quite partial to stealing food from visitors. Bako's macaques are fearless creatures and possibly the bravest monkeys on earth. They often launch dawn raids, sprinting into the canteen area and stealing unguarded food.


Silver-Leaf Monkey

Silver-Leaf Monkey


The silver-leaf monkey or silvered langur is a rather attractive creature. Adults have metallic grey fur and a crest of spiky head hair, whilst the infants are covered in bright orange fur until they are 3-5 months old when their fur turns grey. Silver-leaf monkeys live in troops of 10 to 40 and are found in coastal, riverine and swamp forests where they feed on a diet of fruit, leaves and the plant shoots, including those of some species of mangrove. At Bako, they are often seen at Telok Assam. They are somewhat shy, peaceful creatures and are far better behaved than their neighbours the macaques.


Bearded Pig


Bearded Pig
©Wayne Tarman
Bearded Pigs are the largest mammals found at Bako. They usually weigh 60-80 kg, but in times of plenty this can rise to 120 kg. Bearded pigs have long heads with a beard of bristles lining both sides of the snout. They are most active at night but can occasionally be seen during the day wandering around the rest houses at the Park HQ. Bearded pigs feed on roots, herbs, fruits, seeds, earthworms and other small animals. Don't be alarmed if you are sitting on your resthouse verandah and hear some odd noises coming from the nearby trees; it is probably a bearded pig rummaging for food. They are relatively tame and often come right up to the steps of the rest house.


Flying Lemur

Flying Lemur
©Dennis Lau

The kite-shaped flying lemur is usually mottled grey in colour but some are reddish brown. A gliding membrane links the front and rear legs and tail. Flying Lemurs are nocturnal creatures but can sometimes be seen gliding between trees in the early hours of the morning or late in the afternoon. When sleeping during the day a flying lemur clings to the side of a tree with its camouflage of mottled grey fur blending in with the greys, browns and blacks of the tree trunk. Flying Lemurs are commonly found around the resthouses and hostel block at the Park HQ. However, their camouflage can make identification somewhat difficult.


Common Plantain Squirrel

Plantain squirrels are found all over Bako. Their upper bodies are brown with grey and black side-stripes whilst their underside is a reddish colour. A number of them live in the beach vegetation at Telok Assam and in the forest behind the resthouses. They are often seen feeding on fruits and insects in the trees and bushes that line the shore near the park HQ.


Common Water Monitor Lizard

Adult water monitors are olive green in colour and can reach a length of 2 metres. In contrast, young monitors are green with yellow spots which makes them somewhat easier to see as they stroll amongst the vegetation at the side of the footpaths and trails. Water monitors are excellent swimmers and can stay submerged in water for a long periods of time. They are scavengers and generally feed on carrion or occasionally live prey. At Bako they are often seen catching fish amongst the mangroves at Telok Assam and scavenging for scraps of food near the park HQ. Their tracks are often spotted at many of the park's beaches.


Other Lizards

Water Monitor Lizard
©Wayne Tarman

Bako is home to a number of lizards. The most commonly seen is the Skink or Sun Lizard. This small, brown and grey coloured lizard is frequently seen basking on rocks at the beach or scurrying through the leaves that litter the forest-floor. In contrast to the somewhat dull looking Skink, the Green Crested Lizard is a most attractive reptile. It is usually bright green but is capable of changing colour. If you approach one and it becomes frightened its colour rapidly darkens. Green Crested Lizards are comm
Color on throughout Bako and are often seen at the side of the paths at the Park HQ. Flying Lizards are also found at Bako and are occasionally seen glided through the air as they make their way from tree to tree. Another lizard that you are sure to see is the House Gecko. These acrobatic creatures are seen everywhere, and congregate around lights where they hang upside down waiting to pounce on their insect prey.


Snakes

A number of snakes are found at Bako but their camouflaged skins make casual observation somewhat difficult. You have to be quite lucky to see a snake at Bako, and if you do spot one they often slither off into the undergrowth. Most of Bako's snakes are harmless; the only poisonous snake you might encounter is the Wagler's Pit Viper. It has a broad, flat, triangular head and hangs from trees waiting for its prey. Grass Green Whip Snakes and Paradise Tree Snakes are occasionally seen at the park HQ. The former is easily recognised by its bright colour, pencil-thin body and long snout whilst the latter has a black upper body marked with green spots and an underside that is yellowy-green with red spots.


Birdlife
Bird
©Ministry of Tourism, Sarawak

Bako is a great place for bird watching whether you are a serious bird watcher or a curious nature lover. Over 150 species of birds have been recorded at Bako. Although many birds can be seen along the shore vegetation at Telok Assam and around the resthouses, you will need to take to the park's trail system to appreciate the full variety of Bako's birds. An ideal place to start is one of the wooden shelters located above the mangroves near the boat jetty. Species that are commonly found near the park HQ, and around the mangroves at Telok Assam, include brahminy kites, pink-necked pigeons, white collared kingfishers, pied tillers, magpie robins, common ioras, bulbuls and racket-tailed drongos. White-bellied sea eagles are often seen soaring above the sky near Telok Pandan Kecil. Keen bird watchers should take a pair of binoculars and a copy of the "Pocket Guide to the Birds of Borneo". This superb field guide (widely available in Kuching) is an ideal companion for a trip to Bako.

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