So it’s about that time of the year, when we recall our mammalian highlights and plans for the upcoming year, and while we’re at it, say how much we appreciate this blog (and Jon is OK too 😛 )
Well, it was very difficult to top 2014 with the snow leopard expedition.. not just because of the leopard (and wolves and marten and weasels etc.) but also because of the experience and the people. But I think 2015 just about did it with our amazing trip to the Greater Sunda islands. I almost can’t believe I finally went to Borneo and Sumata this year, after having fantasized about going there for over a decade. So, first of all, I want to say Thank You, Jon, for inviting me on this amazing expedition, which was my first to the region! From my first slow loris, to my first wild apes (lesser AND greater), it was really awesome! We even “discovered” a new species of macaque in Northern Sumatra ;-). Aside from Deramakott, where we scored 10-13 species of mammals on every night drive, I think Gunung Leuser was one of the biggest highlights, because it feels so remote, and it’s exactly how I imagined it, with the beautiful forested mountains and roadside orangutans (literally). I know we were just about “mammaled out” by that point, and didn’t spend as much time out at night as we did in any of our previous locations, but we still saw some really cool stuff, including a very friendly slow loris from a distance of 2-3 meters, and a colugo who decided to put on a cirque-du-soleil show for us.
Of course I had my fair share of criticism for Way Kambas, or more specifically for Satwa Ecolodge, but we still had a great time there with Jon and Jean-Michele, between the siamangs and the glimpse of otter civet and pen-tailed treeshrew (the latter, which I can’t really say I saw). And I’m sorry to say this, Jon, but the birdwatching there was especially awesome too… Lol. So really, a great expedition, that will be remembered for years!!!!
Other than that, I also saw some local stuff in Israel including onager, both mountain and dorca’s gazelle, but not yet my most sought-after caracal.
Clearly, my 2015 highlights were: Bornean & Smatran Orangutans, Y-T Marten, Proboscis Monkey, Sunda and Bornean Slow Loris, Siamang, Asiatic (Bornean) Elephants, binturong, banded, malay and otter civet, colugo, giant squirrel of both the flying and non-flying varieties, and the whole experience. Driving by an erupting volcano (Sinabung) was an added bonus for me! I’m sure had we been there in the dark, we would have seen red lava spewing down the mountain.
My 2016 focus is mainly on starting a new job (I just finished my thesis and getting my degree in the next few weeks) and on South Africa, where I’m hoping to get a good portion of the 20-species list I mentioned in that post. I might still try to score a caracal here in Israel prior to that trip, to take the pressure off from seeing that species. And, with my new job and new money, I might try to shoot for a few days in Spain to get the Iberian lynx. And last but not least, I will finally start putting together the plan for Dzangha-Sangha, which so many of you had asked me about J. What are everyone else’s plans for 2016? Cheers and happy new year, filled with the rarest, coolest and most unique mammals!