Gunung Leuser: Sumatra

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frogshot
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Gunung Leuser: Sumatra

Post by frogshot » August 11th, 2011, 10:57 am

We boarded the rickety old bus to Bukit lawang and due to the various holes which lined the ceiling of the rusted bus, hoped that the rain would hold off until we reached our destination which was 3 hours away. Our journey took us through various bustling towns, sleepy villages and vast palm oil plantations. The pass was rammed full of people and the various goods they were carrying back from Medan, including a box full of chicks dyed blue, green and pink! Of course the inevitable happened and we ended up having a slightly damp bus journey but our spirits were high and we were excited about what lay ahead.

Bukit Lawang includes part of the Gunung Leusur national park which is home to an array of wildlife, one of the main animals known to the park is the Sumatran Orang-Utan. Part of the park at Bukit Lawang was chosen to run a re-introduction programme for the Orangs. The programme rescued Orangs which had either been injured by poachers, snares etc or kept as pets. These animals were rehabilitated at the park were they were taught over a course of approximately 6 years how to be wild again. Once individuals were ready, they were then released back into the wild. The programme was stopped about 10 years ago in Bukit Lawang and over 100 Orangs were reintroduced back into the wild. However, the park rangers still use and area called the feeding platform to feed Orangs which are still semi dependent on humans. Tourists can get to watch these Orangs at the feeding times. However, weather this is necessary for the Orangs or simply a way for the rangers and guides to keep tourists coming is another matter. Either way it’s a great chance to see Orangs in their natural habitat and survey showed that due to the presence of tourists and the Orangs the borders of the national park in this area are some of the best controlled borders of any national park in the region.

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Female Sumatran Orang

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Thomas Leaf monkey – endemic to northern Sumatra

I got a couple of evenings of herping whilst at Bukit Lawang, during the daytime we trekked into the forest which was stunning and were rewarded with sightings of Orangs, leaf monkeys, Macaques, Argus pheasant and white handed gibbons.

The first nights herping we trekked to a broad river and explored some of the tributaries, very rewarding for amphibians. It was a great experience; the forest was stunning the river picturesque

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The guides knew exactly where to find these Limnonectes blythii as they are eaten by the locals, they were easily located by looking for eye shine, and they could be seen from about 30m away.

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We also found a lot of these huge river toads, Phrynoidis aspera, the males were particularly vocal that evening. These toads were also found throughout the village of Bukit Lawang.

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This Sumatran endemic was a bit of a treat, Huia sumatrana and the sexual dimorphism pretty extreme!

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The highlight for me was this red eyed litter frog, Leptobrachium hendricksonii, as I mentioned before I had major issues photographing Leptobrachium, as soon as they are disturbed they hunch down.

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We saw a couple of Gonocephalus grandis this one was by far the “best looking” and was sleeping on a branch overhanging the stream we were exploring.

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In the pools beside the river we encountered quite a few Hylarana ranicpes, and these were also vocalising pretty incessantly.

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On a rotten tree stump that had collapsed into the river we encountered a single but never the less stunning, Hylarana signata it was a pretty flighty frog,

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The next day on a forest trek and during a late afternoon shower the calls of Megophrys nasuta were heard echoing around this little stream gully, a couple of tadpoles were found amongst the leaf litter in a riffle.

That night we checked out an area of plantation and another small stream, heavy rains meant we had to stay out of the larger tributaries. The plantation was pretty good for frogs

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Hylarana erythraea

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And a fish pond was surrounded by these Hylarana glandulosa, there calls were incredibly loud whoops, I was glad we weren’t sleeping nearby.

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We also found this stunning Dendrelaphis pictus.

The stream was surprisingly quite, we found a couple of Phrynoidis aspera but little else for quite some time. Perhaps the frogs had moved away from the stream due to the heavy rainfall and the risk of being swept away…
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Eventually we did find this little guy and it was sitting in a bizarre posture, Some kind of Theloderma, this specimen most closely resembles Theloderma licin which has so far only been recoded from Peninsular Malaysia and Southern Thailand.

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And the last herp of the evening was this juvenile viper I have tentatively ID’d as Tropidolaemus wagleri.

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MaartenSFS
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Re: Gunung Leuser: Sumatra

Post by MaartenSFS » August 11th, 2011, 5:43 pm

And here I was thinking that you'd pack up and return home after Vietnam. Great finds. I especially love the shot of that jungle stream. If anyone does not find that inviting they must not be crazy enough for real herping. In both Vietnam and Sumatra, during what hours did you find the most?

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Re: Gunung Leuser: Sumatra

Post by mikemike » August 11th, 2011, 6:28 pm

Great post and great shots!

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Re: Gunung Leuser: Sumatra

Post by Rags » August 11th, 2011, 10:00 pm

I really enjoyed this post. Nice to get a report from Sumatra.

Lots of amphibians to enjoy as well. It would be great to actually find and photograph Megophrys nasuta.

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Re: Gunung Leuser: Sumatra

Post by Hans Breuer (twoton) » August 12th, 2011, 4:01 am

Excellent - thanks for sharing!!

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Re: Gunung Leuser: Sumatra

Post by frogshot » August 12th, 2011, 6:11 am

Thanks guys, glad you liked the post.

Maarten, I usually find themost productive time for herps is from dusk till about 10 / 10:30pm

Rags, Megophrys nasuta are going to be in my next post :D

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Re: Gunung Leuser: Sumatra

Post by moloch » August 12th, 2011, 3:55 pm

Gunung Leuser is a place that I would like to visit someday. Your report has made me want to go there even more. The frog Theloderma was certainly odd looking on the leaf. Do you look at birds as well? Leuser has a number of endemics including several rare species such as a peacock-pheasant and a pitta.

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Re: Gunung Leuser: Sumatra

Post by frogshot » August 13th, 2011, 1:33 am

Gunung Leuser was an amazing palce to visit.

When i first found the Theloderma I thought it might have been a drooped loris or bird kill the way it was sitting, but just after I took the photos it hopped off without a trace so was obviously fine.

To be honest with you I didnt do any birding, I tend to focus on the ground WE did stumble across a coupleof Argus pheasants but they were off before we could get any photos of them. I only heard hornbills flying overhead when we were trekking but never actually saw any. Sumatra does have a fairly large scale passerine overharvesting problem.

If you decide to take a visit PM me nearer the time, the guesthoue we chose was amazing, and I know that they do cater for independent birders. I am sure your butterfly shrimp paste trick would go down a treat with the guides out there!

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Re: Gunung Leuser: Sumatra

Post by Crimson King » August 13th, 2011, 2:34 am

Truly amazing. THIS is what makes this Forum the best!
Thanks for sharing your trip with us.
:Mark

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Re: Gunung Leuser: Sumatra

Post by Hans Breuer (twoton) » August 13th, 2011, 2:56 am

frogshot wrote: Sumatra does have a fairly large scale passerine overharvesting problem.
The passerines overharvest Sumatra, or the Sumatrans overharvest the passerines?

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Re: Gunung Leuser: Sumatra

Post by frogshot » August 13th, 2011, 3:19 am

I hope its the latter, lol

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Re: Gunung Leuser: Sumatra

Post by Hans Breuer (twoton) » August 13th, 2011, 3:22 am

Why, you don't like sparrows?

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Re: Gunung Leuser: Sumatra

Post by frogshot » August 13th, 2011, 3:45 am

Not if they are going to lock me in a small bamboo cage for the rest of my life :shock:

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Re: Gunung Leuser: Sumatra

Post by Curtis Hart » August 13th, 2011, 6:00 pm

Lovely post. You inspired me to post my trip there as well. What did you use as a reference to ID the frogs?

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Re: Gunung Leuser: Sumatra

Post by Viridovipera » August 13th, 2011, 11:03 pm

Your viper is indeed a juvenile T. wagleri. That's an awesome Theloderma as well. I think I stared at the forest stream picture for about 5 minutes just saying "awesome awesome awesome awesome awesome awesome" over and over in my head. Great shot.

I've heard people saying that they could get guided tours into the jungles Gunung Leuser and Bukit Lawang for about $25 per day. I.e. you get a guide, and walk into and then sleep in the jungle for $25 per day. It sounds too good to be true. Where did you stay and what were you paying to do such awesome herping up there?

Awesome post!

-Alex

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Re: Gunung Leuser: Sumatra

Post by frogshot » August 14th, 2011, 4:47 am

Hey Curtis, glad that you posted your report from Bukit Lawang, will take a look at that now. I used a variety of sources to ID the frogs, some guides from Boreno, scientific papers and the GAA, some species I could not ID at the site so I took photos of the webbing, dorsal, ventral surfaces etc so I could ask the experts.

Alex, the guides were not that cheap, I would say it was more like $50 a day. We stayed at a guesthouse called green hill. It is run by a british primatologist and has some really good guides. I was very keen to find frogs, they said it was not a request they normally had so I asked them to take me to certain habitat types I described and we went from there. I think for an evening out it was about $20 (4 hours) All of the herps in the post were within 2km of Bukit Lawang village, I actually found the T.wagleri and Theloderma in a stream behind one of the guesthouses. One evening whilst havign dinner we were joined by a sunbeam snake (didnt have my camera on me).

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Re: Gunung Leuser: Sumatra

Post by Curtis Hart » August 14th, 2011, 6:50 am

As far as cost, I don't remember exactly what the per person daily rate was. They did claim that there was a 3 person minimum, when there were only two of us. There is enough competition between guides that you can get them to knock off the three person minimum. They also said they would try to find more people to make get the third person, which I said was unacceptable. They took us for the two person price.

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Re: Gunung Leuser: Sumatra

Post by VinceAdam2015 » November 20th, 2018, 10:37 pm

That Theloderma sure looks like T.licin, might be a new record for Sumatra. Attach is the T licin that I had found in Peninsular Malaysia.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected] ... AU-EvK4NR/

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