Nature • Conservation • Travel@sonny.royal

Documenting tropical environments, wildlife, and adventure tourism.
Creative content @stickyricetravel | @fstopgear
📍Malaysian Borneo

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A leopard cat (Prionailurus javanensis) along the fringes of Tabin Wildlife Reserve and plantation fields. This wild cat is a rather common and widespread carnivore species throughout Southern Asia. These almost common encounters are always a pleasure and some less skittish individuals even allow you to get a tad closer than usual. On trip with @stickyricetravel ! #wildtropics #sonnyinborneo

Tabin Wildlife Reserve

Some of the gang soaking up incredible sweeping views of the Tsaranoro Valley and the peaks of Andringitra National Park from the summit of Chameleon Rock, Madagascar. This vast rugged landscape that seemed endless, did a great job in making us feel rather minuscule albeit accomplished following the climb up. #FTZMadagascar


No doubt one of the strangest mammals on the planet, the nocturnal Sunda colugo (Cynocephalus volans), one of two species that are the only members in the mammalian order Dermoptera. ⠀

As you can see, they have a large gliding membrane attached to the neck and sides of their body. This membrane, which extends along the limbs to the tips of the fingers, toes, and tail, is more extensive than in other gliding mammals enabling them to travel over 100m forward in a single glide, with relatively little loss in elevation! ⠀

This colugo is endemic to Indochina and Sundaland, an area of the Asian continental shelf that includes the Malay Peninsular, Borneo, Sumatra, and Java, as well as many smaller islands. This was a nice encounter that I had not yet experienced during daylight along the Kinabatangan River, East Sabah. #wildtropics

Sukau Rainforest Lodge

A nicely captured photograph of myself by @theheardle (Check out his page - loads of new content rolling in from our travels throughout the year) - doing what we do best, on an endless adventure discovering a world of natural wonder in our backyards throughout Australia. We explored a section of the Border Ranges National Park in Northern Rivers, New South Wales, part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage site. ⠀

Border Ranges is recognised as a biodiversity hotspot, containing a mixture of northern and southern flora species (the McPherson-Macleay overlap) with a number of endemic, rare and endangered species. 🦎 @qldparks

Border Ranges

Yesterday marked my birthday and I took the opportunity to appreciate the phenomenal year that has been living in Borneo, exploring far off lands, and having an amazing time absorbing every moment. Thought I would share a few shots of the one primate that excites me the most when in the forest! A species I have rarely gained a clear view of until a few weeks ago... ⠀

The North Borneo gibbon (Hylobates muelleri) is the most common gibbon subspecies in Borneo and by far the most acrobatic arboreal primate I've ever seen in the forest - a true spectacle as they swing effortlessly at ridiculous speeds! This family of around 8 were foraging in the early hours nearby the property in Tabin Wildlife Reserve, as their unique calls bounced through the awakening mist-coated jungle. They are the most important primate dispersers of fruiting trees and lianas but will also eat immature leaves and insects. ⠀

The species is classified as Endangered by the #IUCN based on an estimated population reduction of over 50% over the past 45 years due to rampant habitat loss and over-utilization. On trip with @stickyricetravel - #wildtropics #1frame4nature

Tabin Wildlife Reserve

Had an enjoyable day a few weeks back exploring the trails throughout the Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve in eastern Sabah. Not too far through the trail we stumbled upon the ‘Sepilok Giant’ (Shorea acutissima) that is locally known as seraya runcing, standing at 65m tall. Sabah is home to the world’s tallest tropical trees, the tallest of which reaches 94.1m (shorea faguetiana) and is also in the Dipterocarpaceae family. There’s no wonder that the highest carbon stocks are located in this part of the world! 🍃#wildtropics
📷// @theheardle - featuring @fstopgear ANJA backpack

Rainforest Discovery Centre - RDC Sepilok

A proboscis monkey (Nasalis larvatus) curiously motionless clinging to a tree as we slowly approached the riverbanks of the Kinabatangan River in eastern Sabah.⠀

Proboscis monkeys are endemic to the jungles of Borneo, never straying far from their associated riparian-riverine forests, coastal mangroves, and swamps. They're a highly arboreal species surviving mainly on a diet of leaves, seeds, and unripe fruits, and will occasionally consume insects as well. This species are the most prolific swimmers within the primate world, even evolved webbed feet and hands to help them outpace the crocodiles that are some of their main predators.⠀

Unfortunately, Borneo’s most threatened landscapes are home to these highly specialized primates as logging, cultivation, and settlement continues to deplete huge tracts of their habitat. Over the last 40 years, proboscis monkey populations have plummeted and now the only remaining large populations are in the Kinabatangan flood plain. Classified as 'Endangered' by the #IUCN. #wildtropics

Kinabatangan River

Quietly putting down through jungle-clad river passages, watching as the mist slowly lifted from the treetops in the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary. The mangrove forests and floodplains along the 560km long river offer narrow corridors of refuge from encroaching oil palm plantations. It’s an incredible experience to see an abundance of biodiversity, though a bittersweet reality of wildlife encounters. 🛶 #wildtropics #sonnyinborneo

Kinabatangan River

A stork-billed kingfisher (Pelargopsis capensis) enjoying the morning light along the riverbanks of the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, eastern #Sabah. ⠀

This is no doubt the clearest view I've had of the largest kingfisher species in #Borneo, aptly named 'burung buaya' in Malay - which translates to 'crocodile bird' - given its notably large bill. The species is reported to be widespread ranging from India to Indonesia and generally sparse but locally common in Borneo. It perches quietly whilst seeking food, and is often inconspicuous despite its size. It is territorial and predominantly hunts fish, frogs, crabs, rodents and young birds. I noticed them to be reasonably skittish throughout the day though to gain a closer look I would suggest to try your luck during evening river cruises. #wildtropics #SonnyinBorneo

Kinabatangan River

Enjoying the late afternoon light as the slowly descended below the horizon. Down along the canopy walkway @theheardle watches as giant flying squirrels glide from the treetops at the Rainforest Discovery Centre in Sepilok, Sabah | Malaysian Borneo #SonnyinBorneo

Rainforest Discovery Centre - RDC Sepilok

The nocturnal Inger’s bent-toed gecko (Cyrtodactylus pubisulcus) found hunting among the rainforest undergrowth during a night walk at the Sayap substation, Kinabalu National Park. #wildtropics #SonnyinBorneo

SK Sayap, Kota Belud.

A sweet moment captured by @theheardle during a late afternoon birding session along the RDC canopy walkway in Sepilok. We saw more red giant flying squirrels than anything else! It was also the first trip where I could test out the new AJNA backpack and accessories I got sent from @fstopgear - I highly recommend any budding photographers/ adventurers to check out their gear as I'm sure you will find something of interest. #sonnyinborneo

Rainforest Discovery Centre - RDC Sepilok

A playful juvenile Bornean orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) along the canopy walkway at the Rainforest Discovery Centre in Sepilok, Sabah | Malaysian Borneo, 2017⠀

We spent this past week exploring eastern Sabah and the final stop was at Sepilok, and all-in-all I was quite impressed with the RDC canopy walkway. A solid structure that allows you to experience the forest canopy from 20m high gaining an incredible perspective of the forest. We arrived before sunrise to see what early-risers were about and we were offered a nice encounter of two young orangutans fooling around at eye-level. Never get bored of photographing this iconic yet critically endangered species! #wildtropics #SonnyinBorneo

Rainforest Discovery Centre - RDC Sepilok

After a solid day of walking in direct sunlight throughout Isalo National Park’s rocky landscape, the palm-lined canyons were a welcoming oasis, and stark contrast to what we had endured. We were most definitely in the mood for sandy streams, lush vegetation and plunge pools to cool off! #FTZMadagascar

Isalo National Park

Taking you back to #Borneo where this stunning Whitehead's broadbill (Calyptomena whiteheadi) was found during an early morning walk near Timpohon Gate in Kinabalu National Park, Sabah.⠀

This Bornean endemic species is relatively common in suitable habitat throughout montane forests, occasionally wandering lower to surrounding hills when fruit is scarce in the mountains (600-1850m). Many rare Bornean and Philippine birds are named in honour of John Whitehead who spent most of his adult life collecting birds in remote parts of Asia. Most famous are the three endemics that make up Whitehead's Trio; Whitehead's broadbill, trogon, and spiderhunter. Only one more to photograph! #wildtropics #SonnyinBorneo

Mount Kinabalu

Isalo National Park's lunar-esque landscape is owed to centuries of sand erosion, and the winds and rains of time have created phantasmagorical pinnacles, surreal bulbous rocks, canyons and gorges cradling spectacular waterfalls. Despite the water sources, at times Isalo seems more Death Valley than the sub tropics. That is until you see a ring tailed lemur or two basking in a tree by a stream – then you know you are in Madagascar. ⠀

This mind-blowing landscape is Isalo’s drawcard and why it’s such an attraction for hikers. #FTZMadagascar

Isalo National Park

Madagascar kestrel (Falco newtoni) perched up on the edge of a gorge in Isalo National Park, #Madagascar.⠀

A small endemic raptor that is quite common and widespread with stable populations throughout the island. This little one let us slowly creep closer to gain some low-angled shots as he wasn't too fussed by our presence - even if five of us were grouped in a mound with shutters flying off the handle. #FTZMadagascar #wildtropics

Isalo National Park

Isalo National Park's ancient landscape has a wide variety of terrain to explore, consisting of eroded ruiniform sandstone formations dating back to the Jurassic period. We trailed through deep canyons with riparian forests and palm-lined oases leading us through vertical rock walls, streams, lush vegetation, and plunge pools for swimming. A complete sensory overload!⠀

Photographed here is @lerako taking advantage of the nice afternoon light and reflecting streams as we ventured back along this natural wonder following a much-needed swim. ⠀

Featuring; @fstopgear Sukha (70L) backpack.

Isalo National Park

The only individual of a Verreaux's sifaka (Propithecus verreauxi) that we saw during our two days exploring Isalo National Park, #Madagascar. ⠀

As the rest of the group proceeded back to camp for lunch I stuck around for a bit waiting for this guy to come into clearer view, patience paid off and we were offered a glimpse of an uncommon encounter with this species. This diurnal lemur inhabits many forest types throughout southern and south-western Madagascar, and is found nowhere else on Earth. Unfortunately listed as Endangered by the #IUCN as the species is suspected to have undergone a population reduction of ≥50% over the past 52.5 years (three generations) due primarily to slash-and-burn agricultural practices. #FTZMadagascar #wildtropics

Isalo National Park

A surreal view of @theheardle photographing @mattpeirce88 sitting on the edge of the world soaking up the unique landscape within Isalo National Park in the Ihorombe Region of #Madagascar. ⠀

Isalo National Park protects 815 km² of sandstone massif wildly eroded by wind and rain into bizarre ridges featuring wild forms, impressive gorges, canyons and tiny stalagmite pinnacles. This park is the most visited protected area in Madagascar and a popular highlight when discovering the Great South. Hiking throughout the wide variety of terrain, including sandstone formations, deep canyons, a palm-lined oases, and grasslands never left us short of incredible panoramic vistas like this. #FTZMadagascar

Isalo National Park

This kind youngster accompanied us as we meandered throughout small remote villages within the #Tsaranoro Valley. I photographed him taking a short break from herding his zebu (domestic cattle) with the backdrop of the mountainous outskirts of Andringitra National Park, Fianarantsoa Province - #Madagascar.


A curious Ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta) halts for moment to stare down the lens in Tsaranoro Valley, #Madagascar.⠀

Lemurs are primates found only on the African island of Madagascar and some tiny neighboring islands. Because of its geographic isolation, Madagascar is home to many amazing animals found nowhere else on Earth. This particular species are unmistakable because of their long, vividly striped, black-and-white tail. ⠀

Ring-tailed lemurs are listed as Endangered by the IUCN, largely because of hunting and their sparse, dry forested habitats are quickly vanishing. Despite the large range and flexibility of this species, population density is very low and is restricted to isolated fragments. #FTZMadagascar #wildtropics


The Bornean endemic Golden-naped barbet (Megalaima pulcherrima) photographed around Timpohon Gate in Kinabalu National Park, #Sabah.⠀

A common montane resident of primary and secondary forest and usually found at higher altitudes than the Mountain and Bornean barbets. Early morning birding proved to be a success especially whilst in one of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet. #wildtropics #SonnyinBorneo

Timpohon Gate,Kinabalu Park

@_.nikle._ photographing Chameleon Rock as we made a slow descent down the winding trails in Tsaranoro Valley, #Madagascar

What was a drunken haze in our lives post-graduating university in the Summer of 2011 a decision was made to travel to Madagascar in 2017. What felt like a life-time away at that point, we never gave the trip too much thought until only a few months out from the departure date. Before we knew it the excitement kicked in as we met in random airports between Australia, SE Asia, Africa, and upon touchdown in Antananarivo, Madagascar it was like no time had passed at all. A humorously sharp-witted, nature geeky group of eclectic individuals in search of adventure, natural wonder, and good times! 📸 #FTZmadagascar

Tsara Camp

A Malagasy giant chameleon or Oustalets's chameleon (Furcifer oustaleti) hanging about the spiny gardens at Tsara Camp, Tsaranoro Valley, #Madagascar. This species is endemic to Madagascar where it occurs throughout most of the island, relatively abundant with a stable population. It was exciting to photograph and observe this highly adaptable species. #FTZMadagascar #wildtropics

Tsara Camp

We were graced with this incredibly raw view of Tsaranoro Massif upon reaching the summit of Chameleon Rock. Many climbers every year rival these towering rock faces that were staring down at us, just looking at them made my knees weak. I spent a good while photographing all of the beautiful endemic flora that habituated this harsh landscape. Tsaranoro Valley, Madagascar. #FTZMadagascar

Massif de l'Andringitra - pic Bôby & Vallée de Tsaranoro Madagascar

An important element to embrace while traveling is the local people that you encounter. Throughout the whole of Madagascar we were spoilt with endless smiles, laughter and genuine inquisitiveness by the Malagasy people. Whenever the cameras came out the younger generations were all too willing to show off and break into dance. Their infectious smiles and warm welcomes were incredibly humbling. We came across this eclectic bunch of kids once we arrived into Tsaranoro Valley, and upon hearing our music in the van they instantly broke into a dance! #FTZMadagascar

Tsara Camp

No doubt the most iconic species from Madagascar, the ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta). This individual was found amongst a small troop whose home ranges throughout Sacred Forest in Tsaranoro Valley.

This species is endemic to southern and south-western Madagascar and is among some of the most adaptable lemur species occuring in a wide range of habitats, including the highlands. Despite this adaptability the ring-tailed lemur is listed as Endangered by the IUCN due to habitat destruction and hunting for the bush meat trade. This guy was extremely inquisitive as he jumped around this rock while we observed and photographed the troop. #FTZMadagascar #wildtropics


After spending a full day of exploring the rocky trails of Sacred Forest we climbed a large boulder that offered an incredible perspective of the entire Tsaranoro Valley. The clouds and shadows were constantly changing across these high peaks, which is the boundary of Andringitra National Park. An ever-changing sky atop of a dry landscape provides perfect photo opportunities. #FTZMadagascar

Massif de l'Andringitra - pic Bôby & Vallée de Tsaranoro Madagascar

The next installment from our #Madagascar trip will be from the Tsaranoro Valley, where we spent three glorious days exploring this dramatic rocky landscape. @theheardle attempting to photograph the sheer enormity of Tsaranoro Massif, a popular adventure climbing destination since the 1990s.

Said to be one of Madagascar’s most picturesque national parks where granite boulders litter the hillsides, sacred forests that fringe the base of towering peaks, primitive village life with smiling faces, incredible starry nights, and mixed with a dry landscape, the beauty of Tsaranoro Valley is immeasurable. We hiked through rocky escarpments in search of biodiversity and climbed rocky outcrops to be completely consumed by the breathtaking views of this inspiring part of the world. #FTZMadagascar

Massif de l'Andringitra - pic Bôby & Vallée de Tsaranoro Madagascar