The Mystery of the Appearance of Nabau in Malaysia’s Rivers

Who would not freak out to see a giant snake squirming its way on Baleh River in Borneo? That’s right, it is the fabled Borneo Monster caught by aerial photographs and it is alarming residents in this Malaysian island.

The photo, allegedly taken by a “member of a disaster team monitoring flood regions” from a helicopter above the Baleh river on the island of Borneo, is claimed by local villagers to depict the mythical ‘Nabau’ snake, which is said to be more than 100-feet long with a dragon’s head.

The photograph shows a snake-like object in a blackwater river surrounded by jungle. The scale is also off — the “snake” appears to be several hundred feet long based on a size comparison with the surrounding trees.

Still the grainy image has sparked debates in online forums and comment sections on news sites around the world.

The world’s longest snake is generally recognized as the reticulated python, while the heaviest snake on record is a Burmese python. The anaconda of South America occasionally vies for the title of largest snake.

Earlier this month researchers announced the discovery of a 45-foot-long prehistoric snake from Colombia. The species, named Titanoboa cerrejonensis (“titanic boa”), lived more than 50 million years ago on a diet of crocodiles and giant turtles.

Borneo, the third largest island in the world, is famous for its rainforests which house orangutans, pygmy elephants, proboscis monkey, and the critically endangered Sumatran rhinoceros. But these are increasingly threatened by logging and conversion for oil palm plantations to produce palm oil.

Forest cover has dropped from nearly three-quarters in 1985 to less than 50 percent today.

There have been legends in Borneo about a Nabau that feeds off livestock and medium-sized forest animals. It is named after an “ancient sea serpent which can transform itself into the shapes of different animals”. It eats crocodiles and giant turtles by wrangling them and swallowing them in an instant.

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