Nuffnang Space

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


I am thrilled that Evolution is the word Donna has assigned us for Word for Wednesday. My take on this is a light hearted observation of the Theory of  Evolution. If Darwin was right, we evolved in this fashion:

Let us study the great apes and compare their habits to ours. I had the privilege of  seeing for myself the way these primates behave when I visited the Semenggok Orang Utan Sanctuary in Sarawak, and have learned a little bit about their habits.  Both my observations as well as reports from studies made, are brought into this little commentary on evolution. I would like to point out some remarkable similarities these primates have with the habits of homo sapiens, which might lend a clue as to how we have evolved from them.

The Orang Utan (meaning Man of the Jungle in the Malay language) is said to be a close relative of humans, and is very intelligent. In the sanctuary, they live in their natural habitat, and although the rangers provide them with two meals a day, they have the choice to come out to the fringe of the reserve to have breakfast, or not. The mothers with baby in tow came out in full force, that particular day. Then the teens made an appearance. Nowhere to be seen was the alpha male.We assumed he was still in bed, waiting for breakfast to be served. 

Look who came for breakfast...

Similarity  #1
These primates are very selective of the location of their  nest. They prefer to build their nest in the highest branches they can reach.
We also prefer to build our homes on hill-tops, mountain-tops and people are prepared to pay  a high premium on these locations. Just think of celebrities living in the hills of Monaco. We are also willing to pay very high prices for penthouse property in the tallest condominiums we can find. This must say something about the origin of our species.

Evolution point:  Where Orangutans never take over any abandoned nest, but always build new ones when they move, evolution has us buying over old property at a higher price when we relocate. Seems to me the primates knew better.
Evolution point : Orangutans spend 90% of their time in the treetops of their rainforest home, but we leave our homes for work early in the morning and come home late at night. They seem to know how to enjoy their highrise residence, while we are seldom at home to enjoy the comforts of home. Have we evolved for the better?

See that penthouse up there?

Similarity #2
Orangutan mothers care for their young for 2 years. Female Orangutans breed every 8 years or so, and in their lifetime, they have 3 or 4 babies. Mothers cradle and rock their babies, and teach them living skills. In the Semenggok Wildlife sanctuary, these mothers are referred to as Hot Mamas as they are fiercely protective of their young. We were instructed to keep our distance and not exhibit what could be misconstrued as aggressive behaviour when the Hot Mamas are around. Camera tripods and umbrellas might be seen as weapons, so we were told not to use them. The day before our visit, a man had been injured by an orangutan, so the ranger gave strict instructions to us. The final instruction had us a bit apprehensive, when the ranger warned us to listen for directives from them. He said, "When we say 'Run!', you run!!!" Oh-oh... I must say that it was an exciting visit.

Hot Mama 1

Hot Mama 2

Precious baby

Another precious young 'un in tow.

Evolution point: We human mums look after our young for a little longer, from birth, through their teens, and we continue to support them...right up to the last level of their education!(Might take about 25 years if they do not opt to do a PhD)

Similarity #3
Couch potato habits
The Orangutans have been observed to use very little energy. They are sloth-like in the jungle.
This pose was kept up for at least 15 minutes before they slowly moved on!

Sounds familiar? What do we do when we get home? Look for the remote and park ourselves on the couch, trying to utilize as little movement as possible!
Evolution point: Oh, yes, we have evolved so much more today...haven't we?

Cinquain for Poetry Picnic, Week 10

home to primates
feel warm and secure here
may both the strong and weak survive

Haiku Heights #91

soak in the lessons
 our forefathers bequeathed us
sponge absorbs, retains 

For Sensational Haiku Wednesday

her looks may scare us
gentle mother with a mask
she protects her young

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Encounters in the Mangrove Forest

Our guide told us to be well-prepared for our trip to the Bako National Park in Sarawak. I was well-prepared for our trip - translated, that means camera batteries fully-charged.

When we reached the jetty to catch our boat ride to the park, the first thing that caught my attention was the photo opportunity. Those boats were fabulous, I thought. Light four-seater motor boats that would be great for skimming the waves to get us there in no time.

 Then I looked  up at the notice. See what it says:

Oh! Beware of crocodiles! There are crocodiles in the river? Maybe a bigger, sturdier boat is in order? Anyway, I got into the boat nervously and was handed a life-jacket that our guide, Wan, said was absolutely imperative for us to put on. I heartily approved of that regulation. Soon, all thoughts of a possible crocodile encounter left my mind as the scenery in front of me made me snap away happily. Here we were, on the South China Sea!

A  Watery Wednesday shot.

We reached the jetty, and our guide pointed out to us, with nonchalance, that carnivorous mangrove swamp creature that dwelled in the mud, had bulging eyes and, you're wrong, he was not pointing to a wild crocodile, but to that strange creature which is fish, but lives on land. Yup, the mudskipper is literally a fish out of water!It is really carnivorous, by the way.

Fascinating aren't they? They walk on their pectoral fins! They are hard to photograph, for they are tiny, (those in the picture above are about an inch to two inches long) and they move fast and keep retreating to their burrows. Wonder why they're always doing that, we were not predators! Maybe their babies were calling for them. They raise families in their burrows, did you know? I was quite happy that our first encounter with a swamp creature was not with a crocodile. Now you know how much of an adventurer I am!

Aha! This is a good sign. I mean this is a good indication of the presence of the kind of forest creatures that we were all very excited to meet. Our tree-dwelling relatives! That sign makes me think that thetr might be some monkeys there plucking coconuts and dropping them to the ground. Logical assumption, I am sure. Not long after we had landed, we got to meet our first tree-dweller. We were fortunate that our guide was alert to the slight movements among the branches. Wan signalled us to look up and, what do you know, we saw this broad back of a primate; I couldn't tell what species it was, and it refused to turn to look at us.

We were whispering so as not to frighten it away, and for the next ten to fifteen minutes, most of us on the ground were busy photographing this anonymous posterior! Then he looked upwards, and we caught a glimpse of his profile. He's the Dutchman of Borneo!!! Yes, that profile, that long nose...unmistakable!

Can you imagine how thrilled we were to meet this proboscis monkey practically face to face!? We had arrived here quite early in the morning, and apparently, these monkeys which sleep near the river, start the day by feeding and then move on further into the jungle later in the day.

It is sad to note that the proboscis monkey is an endangered species, but fortunately there are parks like the Bako National Park that protects the remaining population.

Aww, look at that adorable face...

As we moved further inland, we saw many long-tailed macaques. These are easy to spot because they are bigger in population, here. They are said to be among the most successful of primates as they flourish in a wide range of habitats. I guess the reason for this is they are not picky eaters. They are omnivorous, and even  scavenge for food from left-overs in rubbish bins.

Here in this picture above, the macaque was contemplating what else to have for lunch, after an entree of tropical leaves and berries. Look at what  is available for the main course:


 in our haven, stress
burrow deep or be eaten 
live another day

(For Sensational Haiku Wednesday, prompt - Stress)

There are also hermit crabs...

and oysters!!!

These mangrove oysters anchor on to mangrove roots and rocks and feed on the algae that  is washed over the oyster beds. Isn't that an ingenious need to go look for lunch, the lunch comes to you. And did you know that the oysters will change their gender once or more in their lifetime?

We were walking along a footpath when we met this family of Mum and her triplets. We kept our distance, as you don't know when Mummy Wild Pig might take offence and charge at us. This was certainly one of the highlights of our visit.

You wouldn't want to rile this lady. Just look at her!

The babies have watermelon stripes. Cute, aren't they?

The next creatures we encountered are probably the most dangerous. They are green vipers, and our guide found them in some bushes. There were two varieties, but I didn't want to get near enough for a look, so my 'better half' proved himself worthy of that title and photographed the snakes while I kept my distance.

I was happier taking photographs of butterflies and dragonflies!


We'll leave these mangrove forest creatures for now, and this image below, of their habitat makes me think they have it really good, living in their intertidal paradise.

My Skywatch Friday photograph


interwoven lives
impossible on one's own
cling on to your rock

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Mangrove Wetlands - Beauty Amidst Biodiversity

There was really so much to see here at the Bako National Park, and to write about in my posts, that I have to have at least three separate posts. One, mainly concerning  the fauna, one on the flora, and the third just on the beauty of the mangrove forest environment. Let's start with the scenery. I took hundreds of photographs here, and wish I could share all of them with you. It is so difficult to have to choose only a few. Actually, some people might say that one scene looks pretty much like another...after all, they're all of the mangrove swamp, the sea, the sky, the rocks, the mud...yeah, I know that, but I love each of them!

It isn't that I've never seen mangrove before. It is just that it is only now, since I have begun to see nature through the lens, that I appreciate them even more.

These 'shoots' sticking out of the mud are actually aerial roots that require air to breathe. 

Living Together

come up for air
we shall survive
even in the harshest of environments
in the murkiest of intertidal existences
there's symbiosis
in our relationship
and there's strength in that
you are my buffer 
between the sea and the shoreline
you absorb the shocks from waves and storms
and I'm the buttress that anchors you
in the ebbing of the tide and time

come up for air 
and look around 
beyond the mudflats of this wetland
there's beauty above ground
reach up and take
all that is out there 
the air is ours to have and to share
our lives are intertwined with all who live here
 no discord nor enmity nor fear
let kindness and acceptance be our theme song of camaraderie
and together we shall flourish
in this wild menagerie

(For Poetry Picnic - Prompt: Relationships)
(For Thursday Poets Rally)

rosiegan October 2011

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