I’d seen camels before, but never this many, and never like this.
Business tourists visit Bahrain ask, are there camels in Bahrain? There’s lots of of camels in Bahrain, but the reason might surprise you. Here’s the quick story he shared:
My guide told me that the King of Bahrain (actually Sheikh Mohammed) wanted camels, and thus 500 camels were brought to what became the Royal Camel Farm in Bahrain. He decided to open up this Royal Camel Farm to the public. I’d never seen so many camels!
Bahrain consists of mostly desert, making it the ideal habitat for camels.
Despite being called a camel farm, the camels here are not for eating. Sheikh Mohammed set up the farm to preserve the presence of the camel in Bahrain which, before the advent of the motor vehicle was the Bahraini’s foremost mode of transport. Indeed, the Arabian Peninsula has a huge cultural connection with the camel, and for the Bedouins of the past, the camel was revered as a sacred symbol of life amid the inhospitable desert. –Time Out Bahrain
I mostly just observed and took photos, but camel rides around the farm can be arranged. You can also play with them, feed them, watch them, or take photos with them. If you’re feeling adventurous, there’s also the occasional sale of camel milk.
Note, the post is called “500 Camels” because that’s what my guide/driver called it, but it looked more like 150 or 200. Either way it’s a lot of camels, and waaaaay more than I had ever seen.
Visit Bahrain Royal Camel Farm info
Where is the Royal Camel Farm in Bahrain?
Junaibiya Highway in Al Janabiya (near Manama), Bahrain
Hours: open to the public every day.
This destination wasn’t even on my list of things to visit in Bahrain, but ended up being a highlight! I trusted my driver a bit more to improvise from my prepared list, but that trust was short-lived. The next place he showed me was… the Bahrain King’s Parking Lot. I’m serious. I tell the quick story here.
Do camels really store water in their humps?
For some reason people learn that camels store water in their large humps, to allow them to live in desert climates. That’s not actually literally true; they store fat in their humps, but it is a crucial part of how camels bodies allow them to live in hot deserts. This video on how Camels store water explains it in just 2 minutes. Enjoy!
What’s the only thing more exciting than seeing animals in the wild? Baby animals in the wild! Check out these photos of baby monkeys – baby long-tailed macaques:
I saw these Long-tailed Macaques in Bako National Park, in Malaysian Borneo. This below photo reminds me of the photos of monkeys in Bali.
These baby monkeys were so adorable that we almost forgot that they’re wild animals.
Long-tailed macaques are the most commonly seen type of monkey in southeast Asia; I saw them all over, from Indonesia to Cambodia to the Philippines. Male members leave the group when they reach puberty, according to Wikipedia. Long-tailed macaques are also referred to as crab-eating macaques
These baby monkeys in Borneo were cute, but there’s competition for cutest baby wildlife from my Asia trip. My southeast Asia trip has already produced opportunities to see baby elephants in Borneo, baby monkeys (macaques) in Indonesia, and baby apes (baby orangutans). Which set of baby wildlife photos did you like best?
Asian Elephants are incredible. So primitive, so old, and the baby elephants are so cute! We were on a river safari in Borneo when we saw a whole family of Asian Elephants (aka Asiatic Elephants or Elephas maximus). After seeing them in the wild, I was really curious and learned some interesting Asian elephant facts. My photography is below, also with Asian Elephant facts that I found interesting are below:
Elephants are the largest land animals living today. They’re massive!
If you thought human pregnancy was challenging – check this out. Asian Elephant pregnancies last 22 months, baby elephants can weight 260 pounds at birth.
At full size, male Asian Elephants can weigh up to 12,000 pounds (5400 kg)! Females weigh up to 9000 pounds.
Elephants typically live for 60 years in the wild (80 years in captivity).
Asian Elephants can be up to 10 feet tall at the shoulder. They’re much smaller than African Elephants in mass, but are taller.
They have up to 20 pairs of ribs and 34 caudal vertebrae (bones that make up their tails).
Trunks are the single most important feature of an elephant, with 100,000 muscles in their trunk. It’s used for feeding, watering, smelling, breathing, drinking, touching, sound/communication, washing, and also for grabbing things.
Asian elephants have a fingerlike feature on the end of their trunk that they can use to grab small items (African elephants have two).
I noticed they don’t have the same number of nails on each foot so I looked it up. Asian Elephants have five nail-like structures on each forefoot, and four on each hind foot.
Super smart! Elephants have incredible memories and, like many primates, have very large neocortexes and are thought to be very intelligent.
Hungry Hungry Elephants? Elephants eat roots, grasses, fruit, and bark. An adult elephant can consume up to 300 pounds (136 kg) of food in a single day!
Endangered: Since 1986, Elephas maximus (scientific name for Asian Elephants) has been listed as endangered as the population has declined by at least 50% over the last three generations. In 2003, the wild population was estimated at between 41,410 and 52,345.
Top predator: humans. That’s right, they’d be doing fine if not for poaching and deforestation.
Did you know? Elephants can be a “righty” or a “lefty”
Ivory tusks are used to dig for water and rocks, to debark trees, as levers for maneuvering fallen trees and branches, for marking trees, as weapon for offense and defense, and as protection for the trunk.
Asian elephants are known to be right or left tusked. [this surprised me]
I photographed the Asian Elephants on this page on The Kinabatangan River, located in Sabah, eastern Malaysia, on the island of Borneo. It is the second longest river in Malaysia.
If you’re visiting, and are interested in the same adventure – I booked mine through Nature Lodge Kinabatangan. Note, they said seeing elephants is rare and unexpected. They typically spot crocodiles, monkeys, lots of rare birds, and occasionally an orangutan (but all the way up in the trees).
Malaysian Borneo – The monkey I saw most often on my trip through Asia was the macaque. Long-tailed macaques are not shy (although sometimes aggressive; be careful!) and that made for some wonderful closeup photos like this one (below) from Bako National Park, an island in Malaysian Borneo.
Another travel photographer said this wildlife shot of a long-tailed macaque (the monkey in the above photo) should be the next cover of Lonely Planet Borneo (Travel Guide). Perhaps! I’m really flattered by the compliment, but I need to thank the photogenic monkeys that were so kind to pose for me.
Getting this photo: Shots like this are challenging, because this monkey didn’t pose for me, and macro shots aren’t compatible with motion and you can’t predict eye contact from wildlife. You need to be in the right focus to have the monkey crisp with the background blurred so it pops. In contrast, I love the composition of the lower photo, but I had to use my zoom so the depth of field is much more flat.
Pronunciation – yes, the correct pronunciation for this monkey is actually Muh-kok. [Giggle giggle]
I saw plenty more long-tailed macaques on the cliffs of Ulu Watu, in Indonesia. Check out the photos here.
I was fascinated by Borneo’s Proboscis Monkeys! It was a rare chance to observe and photograph an endangered species in the wild. Proboscis Monkeys seem so human-like! Imagine a monkey with a distinctive huge nose and a pot belly. They often walk upright (rare for mammals) and sit like humans sit.
The proboscis monkey name, Nasalis larvatus, literally translates to “long nose,” and you can see why (below):
A male proboscis monkey’s nose can reach up to 7 inches in length!
Sometimes Proboscis Monkeys seem so human-like! This proboscis monkey was frantically eating as if he hadn’t eaten for days! Take a look in this video clip from my time in Malaysian Borneo:
Bako National Park also has bearded pigs, which greeted us upon entering the island. When we heard a typical pig sound later in the day, we were surprised to hear these honking sounds coming from proboscis monkeys.
Orangutans are much more closely related to humans, but the mannerisms of proboscis monkeys made me stop in my tracks and want to observe them all day. I did.
I’ve added Proboscis Monkey facts throughout this page. Enjoy!
Proboscis Monkeys live almost exclusively in mangrove forests like the one in the above photo from Bako. They can also be found in lowland rainforests.
Proboscis monkeys are dependent on habitats with rivers and streams.
Proboscis monkeys sleep in trees. They prefer thick branches growing over water to protect themselves from predators.
Size: Male Proboscis Monkeys can be twice the weight of females. Males can be up to 50 pounds. Females are up to 25 pounds.
Protecting — proboscis monkeys only live in Borneo. It’s the only place they can survive.
From National Geographic:
The monkeys of the world are divided into two groups: the Old World monkeys of Africa and Asia and the New World monkeys of Central and South America. Geography isn’t their only difference however. Many Old World monkeys, like the proboscis, have long thick tails that help them balance while capering, crashing, and careening around the forest. In fact, the names of several monkeys in this family describe their distinctive appendages: stumptailed, pigtailed, and lion-tailed monkeys. In contrast, many New World monkeys, like the familiar spider monkey, have prehensile tails, used like hands and feet to help them grasp limbs, swing through the treetops, and even dangle upside down while eating.
I generally like National Geographic’s wildlife pages, but based on my experiences in Bako National Park, I disagree with Nat Geo in one key area on proboscis monkeys.
Common Name: Monyet Belanda Genus: Nasalis
Proboscis Monkeys are only found in Borneo, adding to the excitement.
Video clip closeups from my first encounter with Proboscis Monkeys in the wild from my time in Malaysian Borneo:
Here’s a video clip of Proboscis Monkeys strolling through mangroves:
Imagine snorkeling with massive Whale Sharks! They’re the largest fish in the sea, and they migrate right through The Philippines annually. It provided a perfect opportunity to not only see whale sharks up close, but get in the water and actually swim and snorkel with them. Wow. It was certainly one of the highlights of my trip!
How big are Whale Sharks? Huge. The first one we saw while snorkeling was about 20 feet long; they can grow to the size of a school bus! Average size is more than 30-feet and 20,000 pounds. They can grow much larger; a whale shark caught near Taiwan in 1994 was 79,000 pounds, and that’s not even the largest ever! (catching whale sharks is now banned)
Is a Whale Shark a Whale or a Shark? It’s a Shark. It’s a whale-sized shark. Rhincodon typus – the largest fish species still around (I just learned the term is “extant” – the opposite of extinct)
How close were you? Very close (see below photo). I was in the water swimming with whale sharks, and they were so close that I didn’t even see the whale shark at first because I was too close. I looked down and only saw cloudy water, but my friend Julian pulled me over a few feet so I was directly over the dorsal fin. OMG. The water wasn’t cloudy – those were spots on the shark about 5 feet below us. If I accidentally went vertical I could have kicked it with my fin! [see below photo]
Is it safe?? Yes! They’re rather docile and aren’t bothered by humans swimming around them.
Were you in a cage? Nope! We went in the water with massive whale sharks without a cage. Lucky for us, they have no interest in eating us.
What do Whale Sharks eat? Lucky for us, their favorite meal is plankton and tiny fish near the water’s surface. They eat algae and microscopic plants. Their mouths are 4-5 feet wide with 300 teeth (which play no role in eating). It’s a filter feeder – they leave their mouth open for small fish and the clouds of eggs and sperm during mass spawning.
How fast are they? They weren’t moving fast at all – slow enough that we went snorkeling with the Whale Shark for about 20 minutes before he swam off, and then found another for about 35 minutes. Reeeeally cool experience!
Whale Sharks are also known as – Whale Sharks are called “butanding” in Donsol, Philippines, where I was. They’re called “pez dama” in much of Latin America. They’re called “Sapodilla Tom” in Belize, named after the area of the Belize Barrier Reef where they’re often seen. In Vietnam, where the whale shark often known as a deity, it’s called “Ca Ong.”
Where can you go Whale Sharks snorkeling?
We were in Donsol, a known migration area, but there’s lots of places to find, see, and swim with Whale Sharks. Near the US, I’ve read about sightings in Mexico (Isla Mujeres), Belize, Puerto Rico, Panama (Isla Coiba), Honduras (the Bay Islands), and more.
Other places to see whale sharks, according to wikipedia and the book Sharks of the World: Thailand, the Maldives, Western Australia (Ningaloo Reef, Christmas Island), Taiwan, Tofo Beach in Mozambique, Sodwana Bay (Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park) in South Africa, the Galapagos Islands, the Seychelles, West Malaysia, islands off eastern peninsular Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Oman.
When to go whale shark snorkeling in Donsol?
We went to Donsol in the Philippines. I was in Donsol in late March, which was ideal – the peak time to see whale sharks in Donsol is February through April. Whale shark season is from December to May.
Who I went with: I went with Gabbi (from Sweden) and met up with Julian and Christie (from Germany), and we met Sarah there. I traveled with Gabbi all over the Philippines, met up with Sarah to travel throughout Vietnam, and met Julian and Christie in Borneo and went on to meet up in Singapore and all over the Philippines. The four of us went on to meet up in Boracay, one of our favorite parts of our trips. Awesome!
Getting ready for whale shark snorkeling in tiny Donsol, in The Philippines
Swimming with whale sharks was an amazing experience – you’re swimming with whale sharks! It’s definitely an experience you’ll never forget.
The boat is specially designed for these whale shark snorkeling trips — we all get on this little platform and then drop in for snorkeling as soon as we locate a whale shark. Just as we jumped in someone yelled “Free Willy!” (from the movie)
Learn how to photograph the distinctive patterning and scarring on whale shark here, which are used to uniquely identify individuals for long-term, mark-recapture analysis.
Here’s more info on going swimming with whale sharks right in Mexico in Isla Mujeres (a short ferry from Cancun) – check out this post from Jack and Jill Travel.
More photos of whale sharks found here: 1, and here.
The top 10 Best Animal Photos of 2011 – incredibly cute photos from around the world. It’s not my photography, but rather from some of the best animal photojournalism of the past year. They’re from everywhere from China and the Philippines, to Russia, Slovakia, and Germany. I loved this Ginger Orange Seal, and the chimpanzee nursing a tiger. Which were your favorites?
Adorable animal photography.
If you like this, then go ahead and “like” it on Facebook, and leave a comment with which was your favorites.
Photos were curated from an excellent Buzzfeed post – see the full group of 50 animal photos here. Enjoy!
Monkey steals camera and takes Facebook-style monkey self-portraits
Who knew primates had photography skills? A monkey stole a wildlife photographer’s camera, and then started taking pictures of himself, even smiling in the photos. The crested black macaque monkey (black ape) swiped the camera and took monkey self-portraits at arms length, like you’d see on a 15-year old girl’s Facebook or Instagram page. It’s a monkey selfie!
It happened when wildlife photographer David Slater was visiting a national park in North Sulawesi, Indonesia, he left his camera unattended and a crested black macaque monkey grabbed it and proceeded take Facebook-style monkey self-portraits. Who knew “black apes” took pictures? It’s actually a decent monkey self-portrait!
If you’re curious, I found out some interesting facts about these inquisitive monkeys below:
Some crested black macaque facts:
They’re promiscuous – with both males and females mating multiple times with multiple partners
They live in groups, and tend to either be all males or be 4:1 females to males.
Their diet is 70% fruits
They’re extremely rare and critically endangered
They’re found in Sulawesi, an island in Indonesia, and some tiny islands near it
Many names — crested black macaque, Sulawesi black macaque, Celebes crested macaque, Sulawesi crested macaque, or the black ape. Scientific name: Macaca nigra
Macaques can be unpredictable (like these monkeys having sex while I was photographing the view of the Ulu Watu cliffs in Indonesia).
The sound got his attention and he kept pressing it. At first it scared the rest of them away but they soon came back – it was amazing to watch. He must have taken hundreds of pictures by the time I got my camera back, but not very many were in focus. He obviously hadn’t worked that out yet.
The facebook-style monkey self-portrait photos were actually taken by the monkey. They’re courtesy of wildlife photographer David Slater. The two (above) impressive photos on this page were by wildlife photographer Sean Crane.
Other primates from my travels: I was amazed how the mannerisms can be so similar to humans. Although they’re technically less closely related to humans than orangutans, I was surprised by how human-like proboscis monkey behavior could be. The baby monkeys (long-tailed macaques) in Borneo were cute, but the tarsiers (aka “Gremlins”) still may have been the cutest primates I’ve seen in person.
We were enjoying the view from the cliffs of Ulu Watu in Bali – it was a beautiful moment until…a slight interruption. Just then it occurred to me that I was surrounded by monkeys…and they seized the moment. I was photographing a monkey on the edge of the cliff, when another jumped on her from behind. Then two other monkeys having sex too. Then two more. Where am I?? Surprise – monkey sex.
These monkeys were in their natural habitat, so anything goes. Including this first photo. What, you’ve never seen monkeys having sex?
Forget doggystyle – this is monkey style!
Edit: I didn’t realize Monkey sex was a slang term, as reported on Urban Dictionary – “The communal act of rough …wild …passionate…primatial fornication. Usually accompanied with various vocal tones and frantic leg hmuping usually seen and heard from orangutans. It is also customary to wear “Planet of the Apes” costumes in order to successfully portray monkey sex”
A read said it reminded her of this video from Gawker, with monkey sex on the hood of a car.
Mating behavior: These monkeys are macaques, which are known to have dominant males that try to monopolize females. Perhaps this is an example of that. Interestingly enough, “promiscuity beneﬁts females and subor-dinate males. One way to escape monopolization by dominant males is to copulate in their absence,” which is called the “audience effect.” This is according to an article in the American Journal of Primatology.
For more posts about monkeys, I’ve set up a link here.