Dipterocarp Forest, Danum Valley, Sabah, Borneo by Fabian Michelangeli

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The forests of Borneo are among the richest ecosystems on the planet, containing a wide variety of plant and tree species but most importantly the giant dipterocarp trees that can grow over 60 meters above the forest floor, emerging above the canopy. These forests house an ample array of wildlife of all kinds, specially mammals. Of note are the Sumatran rhinoceros, pigmy elephants, leopards, bearded pigs, etc, and a diversity of primates: the endangered Orang Utan, langurs, gibbons, proboscis monkeys, tarsiers and macaques. Sadly, these forests are being logged and replaced by palms for the biofuel industry and its future is bleak.

I went there to photograph this magnificent realm before it disappears. After exploring the forest along the Kinabatangan river in Sabah (Malasia) I headed for Danum Valley, a forest reserve where the chainsaws have not arrived yet. From a confortable jungle lodge one can explore the forest in search of orangutans by an extensive network of hiking trails, albeit the very hight humidity and the abundance of leeches. A magnificent canopy walk allows for an unusual point of view of the canopy at over 40 meters above the forest floor with some 20-30 meters left for the giants to reach the sky. This photograph was taken at dawn walking from the lodge towards the canopy walk. Some people blurred by the mist are intentionally included for a sense of scale.


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