Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Orang Utan of Sepilok

According to the Chinese lunar calender, the new year begins on 8 February 2016. As this is the year of the monkey, I scoured through my archives of images from a trip, a few years back to Sandakan in Sabah (formerly known as North Borneo). One of the highlights of the trip was a visit to the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilation Centre besides the Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary.

Orang utan are primates living in the Malaysia-Indonesia region. In the indigenous languages, Hutan or utan means forest while Orang means Man. Literally, it means 'Man of the forest'. These half-men have fur with a distinct reddish tinge.

This signboard at the entrance indicates the feeding times for the Orang Utans at 11.00am and 3.00pm everyday. These are the times where visitors and tourists throng the place to watch the feeding sessions.

Rustic weather-beaten moss-covered boardwalk makes trekking into the the feeding area a breeze. There is no fear of stepping on leeches, uneven terrain or slippery slopes, particularly during the rainy season. Surprisingly, in spite of the dense vegetation, we were not bitten by any vampire insects (mosquitoes or mozzies).

Gnarled vines, stems and roots intertwined chaotically in this verdant rain forest.

The rich bio-diversity of the Borneo rain forest makes it an ideal habitat for these primates.

Ropes are provided for these arboreal primates to swing from their habitats to the feeding platform.

This one must be middle-aged as he appeared dark with most his red hair defoliated. He was suspended on the rope for a long time, swinging to and fro in mid-air.  I thought that as wise and wizened as he was, he should be pondering the ways and laws of the jungle ...

when a young red-haired Orang Utan winged jauntily past in a purposeful direction.

Not to to be outdone, he immediately followed suit. Until then I didn't know that the 'kiasu' mentality was also prevalent amongst them. 'Kiasu' means afraid of losing out - a derogatory term widely used in Malaysia and Singapore to describe a go-getter. 

However it is not necessarily bad. When this trait is viewed positively, it can also mean a person who is goal-driven and determine to succeed.

Their destination is a platform built halfway up a tall tree where feeding sessions were held at the stated scheduled times.

Here they are offered a healthy diet of tropical fruits. Watermelons are a top favourite to quench their thirst ... 

besides sugar-canes, and the all-time favourite; sun-ripened bananas.

Table manners are unheard of, as they chewed, munched and masticated voraciously.

Soon, some 'red-butt' monkeys arrived to jump on the food bandwagon.

They picked up the pieces and leftovers from the careless bigger primates.

Having grabbed a foot-long piece of sugar-cane, this monkey settled down in a nook to feast and indulge.


Talking of sugarcane, I'm reminded of these sweet words of wisdom:
"Relationship with a nice person is like a sugarcane
You break it, crush it, squeeze it ..., even beat it or grind it, 
Still you will get only Sweetness!

Their sharp teeth come in useful for stripping off the tough outer covering.

A hostile glare means "shoo off, you are not welcome to my hoard!".

Nearby, a female feasted daintily.

Having satiated their apetite, they are now back to their cozy haven in the jungle, but not without some take-aways for the journey home.

There are no rules against eating along the way so eventually they develop multi-tasking skills.

Taken to the extreme, this show-off chewed on two sugar-canes, one in each hand while swinging with the legs along the tie-rope.

An old rainforest tree supports a variety of vegetation, mostly ferns and other parasitic plants besides a hosting a milieu of fauna activities.

We jetted to Sandakan in this colourful Air Asia plane.

"Happy Spring Festival" and "Gong Xi Fa Cai" 

"Monkeys are superior to men in this;
when a monkey looks into a mirror, he sees a monkey"
 ~ Malcolm de Chazal

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Euphorbia Milii - Crown of Thorns

Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia Milii) are year round bloomers. They can always be relied upon to brighten up the garden. Each inflorescence last for months and they are seldom seen without any floral adornment. This is a tough plant and resistant to common pests such as mealy bugs, thrips and aphids.

This inflorescence of red flowers is tinged with green. Contrast this with ...

this cluster of pure red flowers. This plant has since passed on to plant heaven due to poor drainage of the pot-bound plant.

In the background is a Lantana camara standard.

Euphorbia Milii co-existing happily in container with pink Portulaca and pink Torenia fournieri. Its bluish-green leaves are thick and when crushed, bleeds with a white latex.
A single frond of the Philodendron bipinnatifidum is seen stretching out towards it.

Euphorbia Milii is easily propagated from stem cuttings. Snip off a small section from the lateral branches, let the milky white latex dry off for a day and stick it into a rich soil mixture. It will take root in no time. 

This male dawn dropwing dragonfly perched on a dried up twig.

The blue and pink flowers in the background are those of Torenia fournieri which self-seeded themselves in containers meant for other plants.

Inle Lake at Heho, Myanmar. This photo taken from the verandah of a lakeside restaurant. This restaurant serves western meals.

Wooden houses built at the edge of the lake are charming and hark back to a rustic, gentler way of life.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Obssession of Carpenter Bees

Carpenter bees whizzing past is a common sighting in my garden. They flew by fast and furious, buzzing loudly at the same time. When there is a handful of them buzzing around, the drone can be quite intimidating. Sometimes I have to duck when they buzzed just inches away from my head.

This one flew purposely towards the object of its desire ...

a blushing red Hibiscus rosasinensis bud.

Eventually it landed on the coveted Hibiscus bud.

Bud hugging is a favourite past time.

 In the background are the orange clusters of Bauhenia kokiana. 

They bloomed profusely for most times of the year.

It continued doing so for all eternity, flying off for a brief interlude and back again to the same bud. I think they could be suffering from a psychological condition, OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder).

Under the overhead sun, the dark wings glimmered with hues of blue, purple  and tinges of red. The body is absolutely jet black.

Every now and then, it flaps its parchment-thin wings rapidly ...

in readiness for take off to God knows where.

A Hibiscus in full bloom.

Another bee was sighted on a similar flight pilgrimage to its object of obsession.

It landed on the bud and perched on it possessively.

I always wonder why they do not fancy fully matured blooms such as this but instead chose the buds. There were no signs of pollen or nectar gathering.

A seed pod


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