When you venture out into the rainforests of Borneo, or even Mount Kinabalu, it is important that you be attentive to your surroundings, the rainforest is home to many species of parasites, bacteria, toxins and even venomous animals.
One such toxin, is called Tetanospasmin
, which causes spasms and lockjaw, it can take years before it starts reacting on your body, by then, you wouldn’t know where you contracted it from. It is very common in the tropical regions, one can easily get infected even with a superficial wound from leafs, it is best and most recommended that one get vaccinated with Booster shots, that would last 10years before another vaccination is required.
The Pit Viper(Trimeresurus sumatranus malcolmi) Photo: Matt Watkinson, found in Kinabalu Park
Usually found hanging from trees, branches or any suspended grounds, the Pit Viper, is very hard to spot as it’s colors are very similar to leaves, it can be anywhere, anytime, and it can strike at anything. It’s venom is highly toxic to humans, it is said that humans can die within seconds of a bite from a viper, it’s venom is primarily Hemotoxic, which will kill red blood cells rapidly and destroy tissues, in other words, you will bleed inside out very fast.
Bornean Slow Loris, Photo :
As cute as this animal can get, one must always be very careful when handling this wild animal(actually, you shouldn’t even touch it), even though it looks harmless, it’s brachial gland secretes a venom that is very harmful to humans. With it’s attractive big round eyes, somebody will be bound to get in trouble for touching it
There are many more dangers in the tropical rainforests, it is highly recommended that you get an experienced local guide when exploring or even doing a Mt Kinabalu climb.
The importance of having a guide.
With an experienced guide in Borneo, not only will you be able to gain more knowledge about it’s wildlife and plants species, and some of the best foods in Sabah, they will also aid in your safety when going around.
Especially when climbing up Mount Kinabalu, there are many factors that would affect anyone. The Mountain guides, unlike us, are very used to altitude changes and would be the least likely persons to get altitude sickness. They will be the ones that will be watching out for us, changes in our behaviors as we climb.
Because of lower oxygen levels in thin airs of high altitudes, our judgments and body efficiency is compromised, we might not notice it before it’s too late. We could lose our footing or even faint as we are not used to the weather conditions. The mountain guides will aid significantly in your safety.
Thought generally harmless to humans, one of the Millipede’s natural defense method is to release minute amounts of gaseous cyanide, which typically only cause discoloration on skins, turning it yellowish at areas of contact. However, there are some cases where by it caused blisters, pain and cracked skin to some. It is not advised to handle this creature when encountering it.
As you climb up to higher altitudes, the air pressured will be lowered, hence the lower oxygen intakes for everyone. Our human bodies will react in different ways, some people will still be normal, some with illnesses and health hazards will occur.
For Mount Kinabalu, standing at 4095.2metres above sea level, it is located within 2 recognized high altitude regions by the International Society for Mountain Medicine.
High Altitude 1500m to 3500m
Very High Altitude 3500 to 5500m
Common illnesses experienced at High Altitudes
• Shortness of breath
You will be required to stay in Kinabalu Park which is approximately 1563metres above sea level to acclimatize for the first night. This is to ensure that your body gets used to the lower oxygen levels, reducing the risk of altitude sickness as you climb up to Very High Altitude areas.
As you start your climb from Kinabalu Park HQ to the summit, you will be required to take a break at Laban Rata resthouse(3270metres) for a night before the final ascend to the summit. This is to again, acclimatize and reduce risk of Altitude Sickness further, and of course, the longer you stay and rest, the better.
With etiquette rest and body acclimatization, anyone with a reasonable fitness level will reach the peak of Mount Kinabalu, it is best to climb slowly and steadily instead of pushing your body.