Sunday, 22 February 2009

Perfume in the Jungle

It is estimated that  over 3,000 species of orchids can be found in the wild in Borneo. However as the "wild places" of Borneo shrink many of these treasures, together with countless other plants and animals will inevitably become lost. One previously common fragrant orchid is the Necklace Orchid - Coelogyne rochussenii which is usually found growing on trees, sometimes rocks, overhanging rivers. Due to land clearing, river banks are now mostly treeless and so this orchid is now more often seen in somebody's garden! 
Like the common Pigeon Orchid this orchid  only flowers occassionally  but when it does the whole neighbourhood would be filled with a very strong and sweet scent. However unlike the flowers of the Pigeon Orchid, the blossoms and scent of the Necklace Orchid last for over a week. 

Coelogyne rochussenii (which was named after the wife of a certain Monsieur Rousseau who was a French Orchid Enthusiast in the 1800s) is also found in most of Southeast Asia, including Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra, Java, Sulawesi, and the Philippines.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

The Sun Bear

Although it is the smallest bear species in the world the Sun Bear (Ursus malayanus also Helarctos malayanus) is Borneo's largest carnivore. However, unlike tigers which are absent in the wild from Borneo, it feeds mainly on small animals like rodents, birds and insects and their diet also consists of a large part of plant material including fruits and hearts of palms. It is also very fond of termites which it catches by tearing up their nest with its strong claws. 
Sun bears (called beruang in Malay, bawang or buang in Kadazan and Dusun, jugam or makup in Iban) are seldom seen by people as they are mainly nocturnal forest animals. And like many wild animals sun bears are threatened with extinction due to loss of habitat caused by human activities. My photo is taken at the Lokawi Wildlife Park near Kota Kinabalu in Sabah. Although it is sad to see animals in captivity, zoos, I believe are necessary for the education of the public about the animals in our dwindling forests. 

Sun bears are found in Southeast Asia, including Borneo, Malay Peninsula, Burma, Bangladesh, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand and Sumatra.