“Wow, Sabah is so beautiful. There are so many palm trees everywhere,” the Dutch tourist blurted out as she walked into the restaurant opposite Sukau Greenview. Tony and I looked at each other, jaws dropping. Our eyes said it all. How can you come all the way here and not realize that massive deforestation and palm oil plantations are the reasons the planet’s oldest rainforest is disappearing before our very eyes?
Sadly, the Dutch girl was right in one respect, there are palm trees everywhere. But the palms don’t make Sabah beautiful, it’s the remaining jungle between the grid-like plantations which makes this part of Borneo so attractive. Unfortunately, even the forest along the Kinabatangan River doesn’t go on forever. While hiking along the river, Tony and I discovered the end of our bio-diversity paradise marked by an ugly electric fence built to keep the elephants out of the plantation. And beyond – a green dead-zone, a biological wasteland which is virtually useless to the animals surviving in the forest. So much destruction for a pile of palm fruit. Although, I guess it’s not the first time paradise has been destroyed by a piece of fruit.
I know, we promised not to vent too much, so we’ll leave it at that.