The April 2018 NatureArt Lab trip to Sabah, the northernmost part of Borneo, was an amazing success. Fourteen wildlife artists, none of whom had been there before, experienced some of the magic that this incredible island has to offer. For thirteen days we were treated to sightings of some of the world’s most famous wildlife, from majestic Mount Kinabalu to the pristine rainforests of remote Imbak Canyon, the fascinating Orang-utan and Sun Bear centres at Sepilok to the mighty Kinabatangan River.
Only a day’s easy travel from Australia, Borneo punches well above its weight in terms of wildlife riches. Much of the island is still covered in rainforest where literally hundreds of endemic plant and animal species have evolved over millions of years. We walked forest trails to a dawn chorus of gibbons high above us in the canopy; encountered frenetic bird waves in the undergrowth while huge hornbills honked overhead; watched wild Orang-utans and Proboscis Monkeys in their natural habitat; and enjoyed the ‘night shift’ as the sun set and a host of nocturnal animals emerged to feed.
To visit Sabah is to step into an evolutionary hothouse, where every day is packed with life and variety. None of us will ever forget our trip: the sounds and sights, tropical colours, and great company in great settings. We saw a staggering 32 mammal species, including the aptly named Slow Loris, many colourful squirrels and primates, and, for a lucky few, the elusive Clouded Leopard; and some 122 bird species, including many hornbills, bee-eaters, colourful broadbills and glittering sunbirds. We shared the same adventures but everyone took home their own memories – some to capture their experiences in paint, pastel and other media; others with a swag of amazing photos; and some simply with vivid stories to tell.
Following on from the success of this year’s Sabah trip, NatureArt Lab will be offering future trips to this fascinating destination, with expert guides and art tutors to ensure everyone gets the most of what could be their wildlife trip of a lifetime.