Kinabatangan River Cruise Full Mammal List

If you’ve been following my wildlife adventures from Deramakot Forest, you found out that I didn’t see an orangutan. I wanted to see this species the most on my trip to Borneo, Malaysia.

We saw plenty of fresh nests and evidence of orangutan-eaten fruits, but I left without seeing the world’s largest tree-dwelling primate.

Orangutan camera trap photo from eMammal’s Smithsonian Borneo Mammal Survey at LEWS Project.
I really really really wanted to see an orangutan. Camera trap photo from eMammal’s Smithsonian Borneo Mammal Survey at LEWS Project.

But I did not give up hope!

I had a few more days left in Borneo before I went back to the US. Originally, I planned to go to Kota Kinabalu to snorkel and see Borneo’s amazing reefs, but deep down inside, I still really wanted to see an orangutan.

Gorgeous views of the Kinabatangan River.
Gorgeous views of the Kinabatangan River.

I switched up my plan and instead headed to Bilit village, a small town on the shore of the Kinabatangan River. Here, wildlife tourism operators offered river cruses to see Borneo’s endemic proboscis monkey. I definitely wanted to see this species too because the day I was supposed to take a river cruise on the Kinabatangan River near Deramakot, it stormed and our cruise was cancelled.

Ready for our river cruise on the Kinabatangan River.
Ready for our river cruise on the Kinabatangan River.

The Kinabatangan River is the second longest river in Malaysia and a great place to see wildlife. Because proboscis monkeys always live near water, you are guaranteed to see them (it’s extremely rare to guarantee the presence of wildlife).

But you can also see orangutans, elephants, beautiful birds, and other wildlife. Although I’ve seen wild African elephants many times (I studied forest elephants for my Ph.D.), I did not see Asian elephants in Dermakot (but we were so close; we found super fresh poop).

I therefore scoured the Kinabatangan River with my guide looking for Asian elephants and especially the Borenan organgutan. But did we find one?

View from our boat on the Kinabatangan River.
View from our boat on the Kinabatangan River.

In this post, I share with you all of the amazing mammals I saw along the Kinabatangan River. Scroll to the end to see if I did end up seeing my “most wanted” animals.

Proboscis monkey

There are so many proboscis monkeys! OK, not really, they are an endangered species, but you see them so frequently and well on the river cruise that it seems like there are lots.

It's so easy to see lots of proboscis monkeys on the Kinabatangan River.
It’s so easy to see lots of proboscis monkeys on the Kinabatangan River.

Because these monkeys are both endemic (only found in Borneo) and endangered, I didn’t not expect to see them so well. We were able to get incredibly close to them, even by boat. I suspect that they are so used to the tourist boats they are no longer disturbed.

Proboscis monkey I saw on the Kinabatangan River.
Proboscis monkey I saw on the Kinabatangan River.

Proboscis monkeys are famous for and named after their big noses. The largest males have the biggest noses. I saw them several times, but was only able to get this photo of the big male’s nose.

Glimpse of the large male proboscis monkey's nose.
Glimpse of the large male proboscis monkey’s nose.

Sunda colugo

I was NOT expecting to see this mammal especially on a river cruise! Given that they arboreal, I just thought it would be extremely hard to see one from a boat. Luckily, one of our guides heard this colugo chirp and we were able to get excellent views.

Colugos are a very unusual animals. They are not flying squirrels, bats, or lemurs. They are in their own mammalian order.

Colugo on the Kinabatangan River.
This colugo was one of the coolest animals I’ve ever seen!

Silvered langur monkey

This was the third time I saw silvered langur monkeys. I saw them previously in Deramakot and the Sungai Congkak Forest.

I think I was so focused on the proboscis monkeys, that unfortunately, I didn’t get a good photo of them. This one is from iNaturalist.

Silvered leaf monkey with baby. Note the baby is orange.
Silvered leaf monkey with baby. Note the baby is orange. Photo by Joshua Addesi from iNaturalist.

Long-tailed macaque

We saw the monkeys pretty frequently too, but I was obsessed with finding an orangutan that I didn’t capture any good photos of them. I took some video footage (below) and also added some iNaturalist photos so you can see what they look like up close.

Long-tailed macaque. Photo by Attila Steiner from iNaturalist.
Long-tailed macaque. Photo by Attila Steiner from iNaturalist.
Long-tailed macaque.
Long-tailed macaque. Photo by Attila Steiner from iNaturalist.

Pig-tailed macaque

It seems like pig-tailed macaques were everywhere on the Kinabatangan River cruise. Even overhead!

"Cruise boat" on the Kinabatangan River.
“Cruise boat” on the Kinabatangan River. Those are pig-tailed macaques on the cords above.
Close up of the pig-tailed macaques hanging above.
Close up of the pig-tailed macaques hanging above.

Pig-tailed macaques are named so for their pig-like tail. Can you see it in the photos?

Pig-tailed macaque near the Kinabatangan River in Borneo. I didn't get good photos of one in Deramakot.
Pig-tailed macaque near the Kinabatangan River in Borneo.
A group of Pig-tailed macaques near the Kinabatangan River in Borneo. I didn't get good photos of one in Deramakot.
A group of Pig-tailed macaques near the Kinabatangan River in Borneo.

Prevost’s squirrel

What a gorgeous squirrel! If you haven’t seen the giant red flying squirrel I saw in Deramakot, check it out in my mammal list. Seriously, it is super cool!

Prevost's squirrel. Photo by msone on iNaturalist.
Prevost’s squirrel. Photo by msone on iNaturalist.

Unfortunately, I didn’t see the multi-colored one above. I saw the solid black version when we left our boat to go on foot behind a resort to find an orangutan that escaped from us.

Black Prevost’s squirrel

Plaintain squirrel

This squirrel is a little less glamorous, but still pretty in my opinion. I love the spectacled stripy patter of its tail. And I LOVE plantains. Yum!

Plaintain squirrel. Photo by Chien Lee on iNaturalist.
Plaintain squirrel. Photo by Chien Lee on iNaturalist.

Island palm civet

We saw this island palm civet on a night walk through a small forest near a resort. Even though palm civets are common throughout Southeast Asia, this was one of my favorite sightings. S/he let us watch us for a long time. It was is cool to see it up close.

We saw this palm civet in a different location in Borneo, but we saw several palm civets in Deramakot.
Palm civet in a forest located near the Kinabatangan River.
We saw this palm civet near the Kinabatangan River in Borneo, but we saw several palm civets in Deramakot.
Palm civet in a forest located near the Kinabatangan River.

Asian elephants?

Unfortunately, elephants were a no for me. We got word of a single male elephant along the bank in a specific stretch of the river, but when we got there, we did not see one.

That’s okay though, I have a feeling I will be back in Asia and will have more opportunities to see Asian elephants.

We scoured the area where another boat saw an Asian elephant, but unfortunately he left the area.
We scoured this area where another boat saw an Asian elephant, but unfortunately he left the area.

Orangutan?

Did I see an orangutan? The species I wanted to see the most?

Kind of. Let me explain…

We scoured the edges of the Kinabatangan River morning and night to find an orangutan. One morning we got word of one that was right by a resort about 15 minutes before we were about to leave for our morning boat cruise.

We headed straight to the resort, but the orangutan was no longer there.

We disembarked from our boat and explored around the resort. We asked the staff if they knew about the orangutan. We knew it had to be close by because orangutans have a limited home range.

They did say it was in the area, but it moved more into the forest. We hiked beyond staff headquarters in areas guests aren’t normally allowed and looked and looked. That’s where I saw the Prevost’s squirrel.

We waited patiently and scoured the trees. Then we shaking in the trees.

So did I see one? In the next coming week, I’ll post a video revealing my orangutan story and you can decide for yourself.

Gorgeous views from our boat on the Kinabatangan River.
Gorgeous views from our boat on the Kinabatangan River.
Gorgeous sunset at the end of my river cruise. I had such an amazing time!
Gorgeous sunset at the end of my river cruise. I had such an amazing time!

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4 thoughts on “Kinabatangan River Cruise Full Mammal List

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