Sunday, 24 September 2017

KLIAS WETLAND: Monkey Land (Part 2)

Proboscis monkeys are considered endangered

"That's because the government didn't stop the developers from clearing the wetlands" Maniam added. "To them, wetlands are wastelands. These areas are turned into real estate developments. How many local and endemic species, which might be unique and endangered, would be lost forever due to the damage they created" Frederick said. THE EURASIANS Chapter 49 Page 215

Klias Wetland is about 2 hours drive from the capital city center of North Borneo (Sabah), Jesselton (Kota Kinabalu). Besides the beautiful islands surrounding North Borneo and the majestic Mount Kinabalu, the Klias Wetland is another interesting place to visit. There are several other wetlands that is awesome, but here is the most famous one.

Another picture of the Long Nose Monkeys



My greatest worry was not having the opportunity to encounter with the Proboscis Monkeys. Sometime it is call the Long Nosed Monkey, because of its big nose. The Indonesian call them Monyet Belanda (Dutch Monkey) a remark they made to describe their Dutch colonizers. Some scientists believed the big nose is for attracting females or for intimidating rival males. Their habitat is usually along the rivers and mangrove swarms and they can only be found in Borneo. Proboscis are considered endangered species and for decades the Sabah (North Borneo) Wildlife Department had made tremendous efforts to protect them.


The Lutung
 I asked the boatman before we embark on the boat whether we will have the chance to see these monkeys. He took a deep breath, kept quiet for a few seconds; and said, "sometimes if we are lucky, we will see many of them. They usually avoids the hot sun and thus spent most of their time on the ground. If they are on the ground, it is very difficult to spot them.  In the bad days, we will only see a few of them but so far never no sighting at all."

Visitors hoping to catch a glimpse of the monkeys
But that day, indeed we were lucky. The hundreds of visitors including us managed to see monkeys in almost all the canopies of trees we past along both sides of the river bank. The boatman told me, possibly it was because of the cool weather that encouraged them to go out in large numbers. We were happy to see those monkeys jumping from branches to branches and trees to trees.

I saw another troop of monkeys and thought they were black Proboscis. The boatman corrected me and told me they were Silvered Leaf Monkey or Lutung. They were playing alongside the Proboscis. Later on I found out that, unlike the Proboscis which is only found in Borneo, Lutung could also be found not only on this island, but also in Sumatra as well as Malaya (West Malaysia). 

Crab-eating macaques
There were also many long tailed monkey or better known as crab-eating macaque foraging for their favorite food in the mangrove swamp. Of course their favorite food is the crab! These monkeys are common and can be found all over southeast Asia.




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Monday, 18 September 2017

KLIAS WETLAND: The everglades of Borneo (Part 1)

Klias Wetland

"That's because the government didn't stop the developers from clearing the wetlands" Maniam added. "To them, wetlands are wastelands. These areas are turned into real estate developments. How many local and endemic species, which might be unique and endangered, would be lost forever due to the damage they created" Frederick said. THE EURASIANS Chapter 49 Page 215

Visitors watching Proboscis monkeys on coconut tree
Boat ride along the river
According to Wikipedia, a wetland is a land area that is saturated with water, either permanently or seasonally, such that it takes on the characteristic of a distinct ecosystem. Among the most famous one in the world are Pantanal (South America covering about 150,000 square kilometer), Kakadu Wetland in Australia and Okavango in Botswana. In United States, 20% of Florida are covered with wetlands. In North Borneo (Sabah), we have many wetlands; but one of the most famous is the Klias Wetland.

Tropical forest along the bank of the river
Klias Wetland is about 112 kilometer from Jesselton (Kota Kinabalu) and it takes at least 2 hours to reach here from the city. It is located in the midst of the mangrove forest reserve surrounded by thousands of hectares of wet grassland just like the Florida Everglades. This is one spot that visitors or tourists should not miss if they visit North Borneo (Sabah). There are a lot of interesting things to see, but as I have said before, we don't know how long more we can continue to see these magnificent wonders. All these might disappear in the future; for example, the Pygmy Rhino of Borneo had officially became extinct not too long ago.





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Monday, 11 September 2017

TUARAN: The Crocodile Farm (Part 1)


The word crocodile sometimes create fear in our mind, especially if we hang around the murky rivers close to the bank. Crocodile also earned an undeserving reputation among golfers in Borneo or Malaysia; which means a predatory golf players preying on inexperience golfers. These "crocodiles" pretended to be novice and assured the other players he played badly luring the naive golfers to bet high. Once the bet are set and agreed upon, they will be slaughtered by these "crocodiles!"


But the real crocodiles avoids men as far as possible. Usually their preys are injured or old animals and once they have eaten, they spend most of their time resting; sometimes for months. As a cold blooded animal, they don't have to eat all the time. However, crocodiles only attack people when men encroached into their habitats and destroyed their environment because their natural preys had disappeared or ran away.




The word crocodile comes from the Greek word meaning lizard. They are the aquatic reptiles that can be found exclusively in the tropics of Asia, America, Africa and Australia (including New Guinea). Most are semi-aquatic, where they tend to congregate in freshwater such as lakes, rivers and wetlands. Everybody knows they are carnivorous creature and not to be mess around with. They feed on fish, other reptiles and mammals. Despite its reputation as a tough animal ( their existence predate the dinosaur million of years ago) it is sensitive to cold and because of men, many are at risk and classified as critically endangered.

Tuaran is 32 kilometers from Jesselton (Kota Kinabalu) and it takes about 50 minutes to reach here from the city center. The Tuaran Crocodile Farm is an interesting place to visit and I am impressed that such a farm existed for locals and tourists to see.





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Tuesday, 5 September 2017

JESSELTON: Tanjung Aru (Bay of the Casuarina) Part 2

Sunset watching at Tanjung Aru
"Raymond and William still spent their weekends together at the beach, pondering, watching and admiring the sunset. They walked to a section crowded with people hurrying to take their baths in the sea before darkness took over the twilight. There were dozens of hawkers selling young coconuts, corns, tidbits, peanuts and local fruits to local and foreign tourists. William and Raymond chose this place because it had a good view of the setting sun." 

Crowd of locals and tourists getting a glimpse of the setting sun
The last view of the sun for this day
"They heard the sea crash against the shore as the last batches of gulls squeaked above the waves, heading for their resting places. The breeze moved the pine leaves of the aru (casuarina) trees, which wailed a beautiful melody in the midst of couples talking, giggling and laughing. They were sitting on a rock big enough for six people to seat on, watching as the sun went down." 
THE EURASIANS Chapter 14 Page 54

Indeed the west coast of North Borneo (Sabah) are among the best place in the world to watch sunset; and Tanjung Aru is one of the fantastic locations to watch the setting sun. The Kinabalu Golf Club or better known as KGC even set up a hut called the Sunset Bar by the sea so that guests could relax watching the sunset while drinking cool beer. Not far away, there are numerous stalls that sells foods, drinks, tidbits and the most popular one; fresh young coconuts. Tanjung Aru is just six kilometer from the city center of Jesselton (Kota Kinabalu) and it is very easy for tourists to come here; even for the free inbound tourists.




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Friday, 1 September 2017

JESSELTON: Tanjung Aru (Bay of the Casuarina) Part 1

View of Tanjung Aru Beach with tall Casuarina trees (left)
"Blue sky and the deeper blue sea dominated the landscape of the beach. Tropical pines called Aru had witnessed these surroundings for the past hundred years or more. The species was native to Australia, and now it was found there. There were thousands of them. Their scientific genus was Casuarinas. When the sea breeze blew into the plants' needle-like leaves, the sound of the wind made a beautiful rhythm. These trees kept growing taller and taller. There were no better feeling than resting under the casuarinas while enjoying the cool air coming from the sea. That was why people called the place Tanjung Aru, or, in Malay, Bay of the Casuarinas."
THE EURASIANS page 35.

Tanjung Aru Beach from Prince Philip Park

It used to be one of the most beautiful and cleanest place on earth; but now although still inspiring and nice, is very dirty. This is Tanjung Aru, located at the end of Jalan (Street) Tengku Abdul Rahman, 6 kilometer from the heart of the Jesselton (Kota Kinabalu) city center. The sand is no longer fluffy and white but brown and muddy. This is due to the sewerage system that drained their wastes into the sea. But yet what makes this place famous is the Casuarina trees; thousands of them dotting the landscape. Casuarina is also known as she-oak or ironwood. Now it is also home to an introduced species of bird; the green parrots. There are also local birds. I myself had seen and touched a juvenile Sunda Scops Owl that had accidentally fallen from a tree. We put it back on that same tree but unsure whether the mother can bring it back to its nest. There is nothing much we could do. I saw dozens of hornbills which many of us had never seen except in printed or digital medias.

Islands and water sports seen from Sunset Bar, Kinabalu Golf Club


Tanjung Aru is a famous place for both locals and foreign tourists. There is a park called Prince Philip Park, which now looks neglected; but nevertheless still frequently visited. In the 1970's right until the mid of the 1980's the Tanjung Aru Skating Ring was a popular place to hang around for kids as well as teenagers. Nowadays it is totally abandoned and full of overgrown weed. However, the only reason why people came here was its nostalgic reputation and also because of hawker stalls selling fresh young coconuts and tidbits. At the tip of Tanjung Aru lies the Shangri-la Beach Resort also known as Tanjung Aru Beach Hotel. One of the oldest golf club in Borneo, the nine holes Kinabalu Golf Club (KGC) is also located here.



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Sunday, 13 August 2017

GREEN TURTLE REPLICA PROJECT

Beach at Bavang Jamal, Kudat


The Kudat Turtle Conservation Society (KTCS) together with Raleigh Sabah Society are going to need volunteers to help clean the beaches on November 20 to 26, 2017 around Bavang Jamal Beach, Kudat. They need as many people as possible to make their program a success. Whenever we saw our beaches and all those rubbish, I am sure deep inside us we said, "why don't the government do something about those thrashes?" Well fella, our government isn't going to do anything about it! They feel they have other more important agenda to consider. Not cleaning beaches and towns! So it all falls back to us to help. We have to start somewhere. If we looked around we would be overwhelmed and do not know where to start. Too many of our beaches and towns are full of rubbish! So let start here, where they are already societies willing to organize. All we have to do is answer their call and help out. In the meantime, let's take a break and enjoy spending our time in Kudat where the place is peaceful and serene; and fresh seafood for dinner!

Wastes at the beach

Working together among volunteers to cleanup unwanted rubbish can make a difference. It can boost the citizen's pride and believe it or not; can also help to reduce crime. According to the Nebraska Extension in Lancaster County website, "time and time again, in cities across the nation, neighborhood crime rate dropped after cleanup and beautification efforts!" Volunteers can bring rakes, brooms, shovels, thrash bags, gloves and first-aid kits. To encourage community spirit, they could bring refreshments to be shared among the volunteers. Please remember that these wastes are creating problems for our marine creatures. Many turtles died after consuming plastic bags floating around the sea because they thought the plastic bags are jellyfish, their food.

Another eyesore

What should we do with these wastes? Well, there is an interesting technology which could recycle these plastic thrashes into pellets. These pellets in turn could be used to make asphalt. Asphalt is one of the ingredients for road building. The government should subsidized the recycling plants that ventured into this sort of project. It is said that the asphalt used to resurface roads made from plastic wastes are much better and could last longer compared to those from the petroleum base. But it only takes far-sighted government to see the benefit of this technology.





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Thursday, 3 August 2017

BABY TURTLES OF BORNEO: Kudat Turtle Conservation Society (Part 2)


KTCS Information Center

Bear this in mind; an American tourist told me he regretted not coming here 10 years ago. I asked him why? He told me that his friends who came a decade ago, and now with him here for a second visit, informed him that many wonderful sights they saw before no longer exist! Every decade, indeed we are facing environmental destruction; but we and our government are pretending these never happened! When our rivers had been poisoned, trees had all been burned and cut, endemic floras and faunas get extinct, marine life shattered; and nobody want to come to Borneo anymore, only then will we realize what had we done to our environment!

Pathway to the turtle sanctuary


But a few villagers are fighting back. It is a small step but I believe it would be a giant leap forward. Hopefully, their efforts would pave the way for more environmental groups to start some sort of program that would save our ecological, cultural and historical sites from being destroyed.  On February 2007, a small group of passionate village volunteers organized a simple beach cleanup to get rid of the thrashes in and around Kudat beautiful beaches because they knew that the sea turtles and other marine creatures would be harm by these wastes and pollution. From that day onward they named themselves as Kudat Turtle Conservation Society (KTCS).

Beachfront at Bavang Jamal near Simpang Mengayau Kudat

 KTCS are focusing their activities such as beach clean-up, beach patrolling (in order to ensure the safety of the nesting turtles) and also the turtle release program. The turtle nurseries are located at Bavang Jamal, a beachfront sandwiched between Pantai Kelambu and Simpang Mengayau (the Tip of Borneo). According to Norfazilah Rahman, the KTCS Project Coordinator, thousands of baby turtles had been released at this beach. The eggs of the turtles are collected not only from around these areas, but also outside from other parts of Kudat. More efforts are needed to protect the environment because sadly, according to Norfazilah, less and less turtles are coming back to hatch their eggs here.


Norfazilah also told me that KTCS are looking forward for support from the public such as joining their volunteer program, donating cash even for a small amount or the least they can do is to follow them on Facebook. Please do help them in anyway you readers can; because who knows their efforts could be one of the catalyst to save our precarious environment.




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