Saturday, June 4, 2016

A good morning jungle trailing

Wild Ixora
Location : Provinsi Licuala, Zone I

Climber with maroon red young leaves
Located at  an elevation of  between 150  - 300 feet  above sea level, the jungle back door is a gem of a tropical rainforest ecosystem.  This morning,  I decided to explore further the Licuala Provinsi area which is named after the many stands of Licuala palms in the locality. It is one of the highest point in the park with steep slopes and many small hills surrounding it  making trekking a difficult and exhaustive  workout.  The forest is originally  a lowland dipterocarp hill forest ( in latin Di = two, ptero = winged, carp = fruit) .  Here can be seen many exportable jungle trees e.g. 'meranti' and 'kapur'.  The Kambatik jungle here supports a very diverse range of plantlife as well as wildlife because of the niches accorded by the jungle ecosystem.  I have therefore the opportunity to watch a unique climber (unidentified) which have strong stems and producing maroon red young leaves. Within the Provinsi Licuala I stumbled upon a wild Ixora plant with orange flowers.  My exploration this morning was well rewarded with the sighting of a big clump of Pandan 'palms' growing along a small stream.   This pandanus variety is sought after by the local Melanaus as the natural material for making mats and other types of handicraft items.  Other interesting encounters this morning was the fiddlehead of the 'Paku Kelindang' (Iban) - Blenchnum orientale and a green stick insect.

Licuala palms along the jungle path
Location : Provinsi Licuala

Maroon red young leaves of a jungle climber.

Jungle climber spiral up a tree

A green stick insect

Pandanus 'palms' situated along a stream
Location : Provinsi Licuala, Zone I
Fern fiddlehead, belonging to the Blenchnum orientale (Paku Kelindang - Iban)

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Lovely and large white-striped moth

Swallow-tailed Moth (Lyssa zampa)
Location : Zone C

White stripe runs across upper and
lower wings
 It has been a few days now that the Swallow-tailed moths are seen flying in broad daylight.  Though it is mainly a nocturnal species, it is still possible to observe it flying about the park in daytime thus giving me opportunities to chase it in order to get closer for photography purpose.  Today, I managed to get close enough to this lovely and quite large 'day flying' moth.  It came out from the jungle at the edge of the Kruak wetlands at Zone C.  Some people reason that due to lack of predators such as birds which usually eat the caterpillars and also the inactivity of its other  natural enemies like parasites and pathogens they have better chance to thrive especially during the months of May to August in Sarawak.  Even though the moth is not that colourful it is unique for its large size, white stripes and enlongated tails tipped in white.
The jungle edge close to Kruak wetlands.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Checking out the rattan canes

Rattan harvested and coiled up.
Provinsi Rattan, Zone I

A small stream in the Rattan territory
 The clear water in the stream that flows through the Provinsi Rattan makes me feel consoled.  I often check the 'rattan territory' area for any disturbances.  Today, I'm pleased to see the area where many species of rattan thrive is largely intact.  I could hear different bird calls and most interesting was to know the presence of the Rufous-backed Kingfisher which I saw speeding through the tree trunks and branches but too fast for me to photograph.  Rattans are climbing palms which have many economic, cultural and entertainment uses among the Melanaus of Bintulu.  It is for this reason that the Melanaus have over generations maintain the jungle in their possession undisturbed as a source of rattan material and other plants and jungle products having  medicinal value.  In comparison, the Ibans of Sarawak are more destructive of the forest because of their practice of completely burning the forest (slash and burn method)  for the purpose of planting hill padi. Rattans need tall trees around them by which they grow upwards with the aid of thorns or whip-like thorn-bearing leaf-tips that are a constant menace if you are to walk through the rattan territory. Some rattan fruits are edible and can be bought at the Bintulu 'tamu' or jungle produce market.
Licuala palm species found in the Rattan area

A jungle  fungi species on the forest floor at the rattan area.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

A Myrmecodia epihpyte

A Myrmecodia epiphyte with large tuber housing tiny ants
Location : Licuala Hill

Large tuber of the Myrmecodia epiphyte
 I was making a new trail at Zone I yesterday when I stumbled upon an epiphyte and as the name implies it was above me. This epiphyte belongs to the 'Myrmecophytes' family which is unique in its ability to accommodate ants in their big tubers. The epihphyte was about four meters above me growing on the tree with its roots built more for grasping the tree trunk than for taking in nourishment from the soil. There are many epiphytic plants in here such as orchids and ferns which occupy a niche in the forest not used by other plants.

The big tubers are normally colonised by ants. Ants and termites are important soil animals involved in the litter decomposition and nutrients recycling.  The tiny ants will scour the forest floor for insects corpses at night.  These they carry on their backs to their arboreal nest.  The dead insects are stored and used as compost by the ants to create their 'fungus garden' which they cultivate within the tuber.  The ants feed on the fungi while the epihphyte uses the nutrients released by the fungal growth.
Ants and termites will scour the forest floor at night for dead insects to bring home to their arboreal nest.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

In Rattan territory (Part 1)

The climbing palms of the tropics - rattan or "Rotan" in Malay
Location : Provinsi Rattan, Zone I

Note the moisty thick organic floor
and the exposed smooth and shiny cane.
 Adventuring into the Provinsi Rattan this morning, I noticed the half dozen species that grow  in the area are doing well.  Rattans are the climbing palms of the lowland tropical rainforests.  They come in many sizes and quality and therefore offer varying commercial value.  The many uses of rattan is well covered in a blog post I made a few years ago as in here.   In the Provinsi Rattan there is ample canopy cover that create the most ideal climate and habitat for the survival of rattans. They find their way up the forest canopy by means of special whiplike organs (flagellum) armed with hundreds reflexed or recurved thorns which grows on the ends of the leaf sheaths or on the leaf sheaths, depending on the species.   What is important here is to preserve the green canopy above and at the same time the thick layer of dead organic matter on the ground floor.  On the ground is where the seeds will germinate provided that the precise soil conditions are met and the moisture content correct and consistent over long periods because the seeds may take between one to six months to germinate.  This implies that once humans destroy the forest and expose it to direct sunlight the rattans seeds will not be able to germinate for posterity.  You can harvest the rattans but in doing so you must keep the green canopy and forest floor unaltered.
Flagellum- the whiplike  climbing organ derived from the inflorescence bearing reflexed spines.

Termites nest size of a soccer ball

Termites nest, size of a soccer ball with opening at the bottom.  Nest is build around a vine.
Location : Provinsi Rattan

White termites at the core 
 I stumbled upon a termites nest at Provinsi Rattan today.  The nest made-up of mud was a web of cavities and channels.  In it I found white termites and there were hundreds at the core or center of the nest.  Termites have a very important role in jungle ecology where they're best in decomposing dead plant materials and thus help clear the forest of dead wood or fallen trunks.  In one specimen of the nest which was the size of a soccer ball I saw an opening below the nest.  Could it be the hole made by the ant-eaters in search for the young termites inside the nest?
Nest made up of mud.  Termites build nests underground or in mud moulds  against dead tree trunks.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Sunlight and mythical presence

Early morning light filtered through maze of branches and leaves
Location : Provinsi Rattan

Mythical presence
 I am starting to carry more jungle trailing in the early morning now.  There's plenty of ground to be covered.  More areas to explore.  I followed the Kambatik stream as it meanders  through the Provinsi Rattan for about 10 meters and then decided to climb a nearby slope to check out the vegetation.  I was pleased to see rays of light filtering through the dense maze of branches and leaves.  It created a mythical presence especially when it hit one sapling in the midst of the jungle darkness.  In the lowland rainforest less amount of light reaches the ground.  As a result it does not permit the growth of grass.  Furthermore the thick layer of dead leaves and organic litter strangle any invading grass species.  Walking in the jungle means stepping on many dead organic matter and overcoming hurdles of fallen branches, twigs and even trunks of trees.  There are also many saplings scattered about that we have to pass through.  The morning trailing was rewarded by an encounter with the fan palm which the Malays call "Palas" or Licuala ferruginea and it was a fruiting specimen.
The Kambatik stream passing by the area which is home to many species of rattan
Location: Provinsi Rattan
Licuala ferruginea - Palas (Malay)
Spherical fruits of the 'Palas'