Sepilok offers visiting wildlife enthusiasts an unparalleled opportunity to get a different perspective on rainforest life – a chance to get up in the canopy and watch things at eye level.

Being in the tree-tops not only changes the perspective of things observable from ground level, it also allows you to see things that would probably have gone unnoticed.

An example of this was the steady stream of canopy dwelling birds that came to drink and bath in a pool of rainwater that had collected in a hollow in a branch.   It was like watching a birdbath in the garden at home – the only difference was that this birdbath was 20 meters up in the rainforest canopy!

Black & Yellow Broadbill (Sepilok, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia)
Leafbird (Sepilok, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia)
Sunbird (Sepilok, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia)

Most of the birds and mammals observed also were a lot more relaxed and confiding whilst I was in the tower compared to observing them from the ground.  Birds such as hornbills and bee-eaters approach the towers  and can be seen a close range and remain in the open for long periods.

Bushy Crested Hornbill (Sepilok, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia)
Bushy Crested Hornbill (Sepilok, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia)
Giant Tree Squirrel (Sepilok, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia)
Giant Tree Squirrel (Sepilok, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia)

However, the next example shows that this behavior is not just due to my remaining still and blending into the surroundings.  Birds and mammals are still well aware of my presence and can cause them to react in a very different way!

A Crested Serpent Eagle came and perched in a nearby tree and on a number of occasions ‘buzzed’ me whilst I was up in a tower – only turning away at the last moment, a meter before striking me!  Although I couldn’t see one, the eagle must have been nesting or getting ready to nest in the area and was getting possessive of its real estate!

Crested Serpent Eagle (Sepilok, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia)

My theory is that being up in the canopy, humans are viewed in the same way as birds view our tree dwelling relatives – the local orangutans and macaques – i.e. as native wildlife as opposed to the two legged mammals that are feared on the ground.

Whatever the true reason, being off the ground can provide an unique insight into Life in the Canopy.

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