A popular waterfall trek that tourists and school groups alike fancy during the day is all mine at night. And two of those rivers are ripe for nighttime exploration, whether on foot in my scuba booties or in a kayak.
My solo endeavors have reaped a bountiful list of jungle residents. On the mammal scene there’s been Mouse Deer, the Common Palm Civet and numerous Red Spiny rats, all firsts for me.
|I spotted this Common Palm Civet (Paradoxurus hermaphrodites) looking down on me while trekking up to the local waterfall at night.|
|The Pulau Tioman Bent-toed Gecko (Crytodactylus tiomanensis) posing quite nicely.|
As I combed the left side on my walk back I noticed a long stretch of tan color that looked too light to be a tree root. This possible tree root stretched from down in the water, to up along the top of the stream bank. My headlamp could have used some extra battery juice so I couldn’t make out exactly what I was looking at. I quietly popped up onto a rock in the river, lit up the tan object and realized I was standing within one meter of a King Cobra.
|The long-as-can-be King Cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) where it was found in-situ. Notice the the lower half of the snake heading right out of the tree trunk, up the bank.|
That night I pegged the length of the serpent at 3-4M (~10-13ft). Yeah, this specimen was a biggie. Longest snake I’ve ever had the pleasure of encountering. The head and upper body were in the water, with the rest of it meandering up through the base of a robust tree trunk, turning ninety degrees and then unraveling along the dirt bank.
|The rock I popped up onto to get a closer than needed view when I first spotted the cobra.|
|Playing with the cobra the next morning, ya know, taking measurements and having a photo shoot.|
|Plank vs. Cobra. Snake wins length battle easily! Adam is around 1.8M (6ft) tall.|
So we splayed the snake out and wondered how the hell it ended up dead. The tail had been gnawed on pretty well, with a few chunks missing, but the rest of the body was intact. The upper body and neck area, running up to its snout, were the only parts to not go through the shed. The old skin was still clinging to scales. We opened its mouth and peered inside, which was big enough to consume my fist or a plump grapefruit. Or both.
|Open wide! A fist or two could easily get lost in there.|
Charlie from JTP has told me before he’s seen a cobra in the same river I did. I believe him. Sometimes in this part of the world it’s difficult to know when other people have seen a cobra species or not. Most folks think any snake out here is a cobra or python, just like people in Arizona who always think the snake they just came across had rattles and was ready to strike them in a moment’s notice.
|The head just underneath the water when first found. Notice the shed skin still lingering and the massive, plate-like scales on its head.|
Tioman is too small to support your classic big-game jungle animals: rhinos, sun bears, elephants and those aforementioned tigers. But we still got some hefty heavy hitters out there and I’ve seen ‘em: monitor lizards pushing 3M (almost 10ft); huge pythons that can squeeze a mouse deer to death and then have it for dinner; and now 12ft long King cobras on both sides of the island. Looks like Tioman, with its ever-developing coastline and the increasing 3D/2N package tourists that go along with that, is still a wild place after all. What more could you ask for? Well, maybe an alive 15ft cobra. I’d settle for that.
|Maneuvering it around so we could measure it.|
|Tail area, which was the only part of the cobra that showed injury.|
|Large Water monitor (Varanus salvator). This sickly beast was almost stepped on by Adam while we were trekking to a summit view point in another area in Juara. These are top predators on Tioman. This one is easily over 2M (6.5ft).|
|Blyth's Giant frog (Limnonectes blythii)|
|Handsome Blue Bronzeback (Dendralaphis cyanochloris) found in streamside vegetation very close to the cobra sighting.|
|Sprawled out and chillax-ing.|
|White-lipped frog (Hylarana labialis)|
|Large stick insect (Phasmatodea sp.)|
|Obese-looking Banded Bullfrog (Kaloula pulchra) on my ride home.|
|Big Boi on the rocks: River toad (Phrynoides aspera).|