Buffalo fighting in Toraja

Water buffalo generally give the appearance of being placid – slow dull gentle giants. Bovine, even. 500+ kilos of docility.


But when they fight, they reveal quite a different dimension.

There’s a loud clashing of heads, a locking of horns, and then they use their thick muscular necks to try and overwhelm their opponents. And those phenomenal horns can (and do) inflict serious wounds.


It can go on for some minutes, with mud (and maybe some blood) flying as they collide.

Eventually one triumphs, and the vanquished buffalo runs away, closely pursued by the victor.

Any humans in the vicinity had best get out of the way!

At Sa’adan Ulusalu, Toraja Utara, Sulawesi Selatan

 

Toraja men (and boys) with their buffaloes

Toraja men (and boys) with their buffaloes.

Torajans greatly value their buffalo, and will pay high (indeed, quite extravagant) sums for a prestigious albino animal with particular auspicious markings.

 

Toraja trucks

Mass transit system, Toraja style.

Compact trucks like this are the almost ubiquitous means of moving large groups of people (and buffaloes, rocks, timber or whatever) around in Toraja, South Sulawesi.


And in fact they are really the only feasible option on the often steep winding corrugated narrow broken slippery roads and river crossings of the region.


High torque, cheap to run, simple to repair, small-ish turning circle, rugged high suspension – and fun to travel in too.

But perhaps not entirely safe…

36 Views of Kalimantan (Part 3)

More from the series 36 Views of Kalimantan – Random photos 2014-17. Hope you like some of them!

36 Views of Kalimantan is published here in three parts. Click on these links to view Part 1 or Part 2.

Kebun Raya Balikpapan 3-Jan-2017 (25/36)

 

Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan 27-Sep-2014 (26/36)

 

Tanjung Puting, Central Kalimantan 3-Sep-2017 (27/36)

 

Tumbang Gagu, Central Kalimantan 19-Mar-2015 (28/36)

 

Bangkal, Central Kalimantan 15-Mar-2016 (29/36)

 

Banjarmasin, South Kalimantan 28-Dec-2014 (30/36)

 

Banjarmasin, South Kalimantan 29-Dec-2014 (31/36)

 

Tumbang Tahai, Central Kalimantan 6-Oct-2014 (32/36)

 

Terang Baru, North Kalimantan 25-Apr-2017 (33/36)

 

Terang Baru, North Kalimantan 25-Apr-2017 (34/36)

 

Bangkal, Central Kalimantan 13-Mar-2016 (35/36)

 

Sei Gohong, Central Kalimantan 9-Mar-2016 (36/36)

 

36 Views of Kalimantan (Part 2)

More from the series 36 Views of Kalimantan – Random photos 2014-17. Hope you like some of them!

36 Views of Kalimantan is published here in three parts. Click on these links to view Part 1 or Part 3.

Kapuas Hulu 5-Apr-2015 (13/36)

 

Tumbang Manggu 10-Dec-2014 (14/36)

 

Bukit Bangkirai 2-Apr-2017 (15/36)

 

Idul Fitri 17-Jul-2015 (16/36)

 

Betang Sungai Utik (West Kalimantan) 29-Mar-2015 (17/36)

 

Kebun Raya Balikpapan 17-Jul-2017 (18/36)

 

Long Api (North Kalimantan) 27-Apr-2017 (19/36)

 

Palangkaraya (Central Kalimantan)16-Aug-2015 (20/36)

 

Tumbang Manggu (Central Kalimantan) 9-Dec-2014 (21/36)

 

Banjarmasin 13-Sep-2015 (22/36)

 

Balikpapan 31-Dec-2016 (23/36)

 

Buntoi, Central Kalimantan 17-Jul-2016 (24/36)

 

36 Views of Kalimantan (Part 1)

Here’s a somewhat random selection of my photos of Kalimantan, taken from 2014 – 2017. Loosely (very loosely indeed!) inspired by Hokusai’s landscape prints from 1830-32. In fact, his main inspiration, apart from the title, was that he was already in his 70’s when he produced that series – and at the peak of his talent and fame.

I’ve mostly excluded wildlife images from the selection. I might make a separate selection at a later time for them. Hope you like some of them – please comment!

36 Views of Kalimantan is published here in three parts. Click on these links to view Part 2 or Part 3.

Tangkiling 19-Feb-2015 (1/36)

 

Tewang Rangkang 2-Apr-2016 (2/36)

 

Tewang Rangas, Central Kalimantan (Bukung Tiwah) 8-Aug-2015 (3/36)

 

Lake Sembuluh 17-Mar-2016 (4/36)

 

Tewang Rangkang (Manugal) 1-Nov-2015 (5/36)

 

Sebangau 6-May-2016 (6/36)

 

Tanjung Puting 3-Sep-2017 (7/36)

 

Banjarmasin 13-Sep-2015 (8/36)

 

Tumbang Gagu 19-Mar-2015 (9/36)

 

Danau Sentarum 4-Apr-2015 (10/36)

 

Pontianak (Masjid Raya Mujahidin) 28-Mar-2015 (11/36)

 

Tumbang Malahoi 15-Apr-2016 (12/36)

 

Flying dragon (Draco volans)

There are some pretty remarkable creatures here in Kalimantan. Take this little lizard. Only 20cm long – including tail – he (it’s a male) has at least three amazing attributes:

1. That spectacular flap of yellow skin on his neck (known as a ‘dewlap’). He extends and retracts it at will, looking rather like hoisting a sail on a yacht. Apparently the females find it irresistibly attractive (and who could blame them?)

2. Colour changing. This photo of THE SAME LIZARD was taken about ten seconds after the one above. See any differences?


3. He can FLY! If I’m not mistaken, he’s a ‘Common flying lizard’ (Draco volans), whose Latin name means ‘flying dragon). He can glide 10 metres or more between trees, using wing-like extensions between front and back legs, formed out of folds of skin supported by special ribs (called ‘patagia’).

Here’s a couple more photos of the remarkable ‘Flying dragon’:

Photographed yesterday at the Kebun Raya Balikpapan, in a tree right beside the main Information Centre.

Play, pray, or chase the buffalo?

Last year we visited villages in the Krayan district of North Kalimantan, a remote highland area close to the border with Sabah (Malaysia). We were fortunate to be invited to a Dayak Lundayeh wedding ceremony in the village of Terang Baru, near Long Bawan. These days the villagers are devout adherents of Protestant Christianity, but they continue to observe many of the unique cultural practices of their ancestors.

A lot of the rituals of the wedding entailed the exchange of gifts between the bride’s and groom’s families – in addition to giving countless practical household gifts to the happy couple. There were hand-plaited baskets, hats and sleeping mats, crockery, cooking pots and furniture, food and clothing.

But the biggest – and most valuable – gift was that of a large kerbau (buffalo), which the groom handed over to his new wife. Everyone from the village was there, watching the exchange with great interest – none more so than a young boy and girl who were enthralled by the buffalo.

As the traditional part of the ceremony was concluding, and the congregation prepared for Christian prayers, the buffalo was led away to pasture – with the two children following in close pursuit. You can imagine the excited conversation between them:

“Hurry up, let’s follow the buffalo and see where it goes!”

She: “Hang on, the prayers have started. We’d better stop.”

He: “Do we REALLY have to stop? The buffalo’s getting away!”

“OK then, let’s pray. The buffalo will just have to wait till we’ve finished!”

Karen, along with her colleague Paulus Kadok from Yayasan Mahakam Lestari, has written a wonderful article about the ‘Bridewealth of the Dayak Lundayeh‘, which was published late last year in Garland Magazine. Do have a look; it’s a really interesting read. Nice photographs, too…