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Discover Eric Mjöberg’s Curious Animal Descriptions as Sarawak Museum Curator

In 2004, a former Sarawak Museum curator made controversial headlines across the globe thanks to what he did 90 years earlier.

Eric Mjöberg served two years as a curator for the Sarawak Museum from 1922 until 1924.

Before he found himself in Borneo, he had made various expeditions to Australia during the early 1900s to prove his Darwinian human evolution theory.

A zoologist and ethnographer trying to do his job… how controversial could his work be?

In Western Australia, Mjöberg who started off by collecting plant and animal specimens for research purposes, had also desecrated the sacred burial grounds of the Aboriginal people.

After stealing their human remains, he then passed them off as kangaroo bones and smuggled them back to his home country Sweden.

He did this reportedly over the course of two expeditions between 1910 and 1916, collecting parts from 12 deceased individuals.

After suffering from an extended, undiagnosed illness, Mjöberg passed away in Stockholm in 1938, living in poverty. Throughout this period, he endured recurring nightmares that mirrored his encounters in the Kimberleys. These haunting dreams involved a feeling of being chased by Aboriginal individuals and interactions with the Dreamtime’s creation spirits called the Wondjina.

In September 2004, Lotte Mjöberg, his great-niece, took the initiative to return the skeletons to the Aboriginal people.

Interestingly, Mjöberg actually exposed his own unethical practices through his 1915 publication of his diaries ‘Among Wild Animals and People in Australia’.

Apart from this book, he also published another book Forest Life and Adventures in the Malay Archipelago (1930).

In the book, he wrote mainly brief descriptions of the rich fauna and flora in the region while giving more attention to Borneo.

Although he was described by historians as aggressive, arrogant and devious, his descriptions and observations of nature are interesting and detailed.

We might never see this type of explanation in a formal zoology textbook again, so here are some of examples of Mjoberg’s curious descriptions:

1. Mjöberg called the pangolin ‘stupid and obstinate’.

“Our ant-eater is stupid and obstinate, two attributes no doubt inherited from the dim past. When in danger he rolls himself up into a ball, and no power on earth can induce him to unroll until he wishes, which in other words, is not until all danger is over.”

2.The proboscis monkey is ‘a human caricature in flesh and blood’

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A proboscis monkey spotted at Tarakan’s Bekantan and Mangrove Conservation Park

“Sometimes a man may be as ugly as a monkey, and a monkey may have something very human about it; indeed, it is quite customary to call monkeys humanity’s caricatures. Of none can this be said with such truth of the Borneo proboscis monkey.

“The Malay natives in Sarawak call them ‘orang belanda’ which is a contraction of orang hollanda or hollandare (Dutchmen). Not a great compliment, this, to Queen Wilhelmina’s representatives in the Tropics!”

3.Banded archerfish or squirting fish is one of the shrewdest of fish and ‘the most economical marksman’ in the world.

“One of the shrewdest of fish is the little squirting fish (Toxotes jaculator). The struggle for existence and one’s daily bread is not hard on dry land only, but the under the water as well. It is essential before all else to satisfy the strongest and most primitive of impulses, the desire for food, the first essential of any individual’s existence.

“He is generally seen patrolling in the water along the river banks, carefully inspecting the leaves of the water plants. As soon as he discovers a suitable victim he backs, takes in more copious supply than usual, and with soldierly precision shoots a stream of water at his prey. Taken aback by the sudden cold douche, the insect loses its self-possession, and tumbles down into the water, where he is speedily dispatched by our ingenious little shot. Inspired by his success, he continues this pastime until he has satisfied his appetite.

“Since he only uses water, the squirting fish is undoubtedly the most economical marksman in the world.”

4.The most pugnacious bird in the Malay Archipelago is the Argus pheasant

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“Argus Pheasant” drawn by T. W. Wood for Charles Darwin‘s 1874 book, Descent of Man

“The Argus pheasant is very defiant and suffers from a hot and choleric temperament: an affliction of which the clever Malays take the utmost advantage.

“They plant in his dancing ground some dozens of yard-long pointed bamboo sticks, in such a way that the sharp points stick up a little more than a foot – the height of the dancer’s breast – out of the ground. When he arrives at break of day to give proof to the fair sex of his superabundant vitality, he flies into a towering rage at these unexpected hindrances to love’s measure, and at first makes disdainful attempts to kick away the sticks.

“But this is no easy matter, for they are firmly fixed. His undisguised wrath flares up and he attacks them with tooth and claw. His fury – violent as it is – reaches boiling point, and he slashes round fiercely in every direction, with the final result that he wounds himself mortally on the little stakes planted at fixed distances. There have been birds that in blind frenzy have literally beheaded themselves, or have hung dead with pierced throats, transfixed by the pointed bamboos.”

5.The flying frog inventive for being the only flying expert amongst thousands of his tribe.

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Illustration from Wallace’s 1869 The Malay Archipelago by J. G. Keulemans

“There is only one single specimen of earth’s multifarious frogs – wellnigh a thousand in all – that has climbed to heights beyond the commonplace and sails above his four-footed clumsy relatives. This fellow with the black feet goes by the name of Rhacophorus nigropalmatus, and lives on a high, moss-covered height, Mount Dulit in Northeast Borneo.

“When he feels like flying, or is very much disturbed by the neighbourhood of green tree snake, who is too evidently anxious to have him for breakfast, our sticky aviator climbs up the mossy trunk to get a good start and a better view of the country.

“His greatly elongated phalanxes are quite joined by a web for swimming or as might be more correctly said in this special case for flying.

“When the psychological moment arrives, he fills his lungs with air to their utmost capacity and takes the daring leap, drawing his feet aside so that the wide flying-webs become one with his body, and this begins his flight in long bold curves, taking intelligent advantage of any local puffs of wind. The whole proceeding is so grateful as to fill us with amazement that an awkward frog can manage anything of the kind.”

12 animal species names inspired by Harry Potter

If you are a fan of the Harry Potter series, then you might want to know about the these 12 species named after J.K Rowling’s famous works:

1.Ampulex dementor

Native to Thailand, this species of cockroach wasp was first described in 2014 by Michael Ohl of the Museum fur Naturkunde in Berlin, Germany.

This insect has an unusual behaviour towards cockroaches. As it stings its prey, it releases a toxin into the victim’s neural nodes.

The toxin then blocks the cockroach’s octopamine receptor, which is an important neurotransmitter and hormone.

This leaves the cockroach alive but docile and with impaired motility.

By prodding with its antenna, the predator then escorts its victim into the wasp’s nest, where it can be dispatched more easily.

After its discovery, the researchers decided to let the museum visitors to vote for the name.

Since the wasp’s terrifying hunting method was similar to the soul sucking dementors from the Harry Potter series, it was then given the name Ampulex dementor.

Other name options were Ampulex bicolor, Ampulex mon and Ampulex plagiator.

Ampulex dementor.
Bernard Schurian / CC BY (

2.Eriovixia gryffindori

Did you know that The Sorting Hat originally belonged to Godric Gryffindor, one of the four founders of Hogwarts?

When they still alive, the four founders used to hand-pick the students for their houses.

Then they realised that someone else would have to do it after they died, so Gryffindor took off his hat, enchanted it and it became The Sorting Hat.

Javed Ahmad, Rajashree Khalap and Sumukha Javagal discovered Eriovixia gryffindori in 2015 in the Indian state of Karnataka.

They thought the spider resembled the Sorting Hat of the Harry Potter series so they named it after Gryffindor.

3.Graphorn sp.

A graphorn is a large and hump-backed creature with greyish-purple in the Harry Potter universe. It has two golden horns and can repel most spells.

In the real world, Graphorn is a genus of shield bug found in Argentina.

4.Harryplax severus

Harryplax severus is a crab native to Guam, where it is found in offshore coral rubble.

It was first collected in 1998 but only officially described in 2017.

The genus name honours Harry T. Conley, as well as the literary character Harry Potter, an allusion to Conley’s uncanny ability to collect rare and interesting creatures as if by magic.

As for the species’ name, it honours Professor Severus Snape from the Harry Potter series.

National University of Singapore biologists Jose Medoza and Peter Ng stated that Snape kept “One of the most important secrets in the story, just like the present new species which has eluded discovery until now, nearly 20 years after it was first collected.”

Jose C.E. Mendoza and Peter K.L. Ng / CC BY (

5.Lusius malfoyi

Tom Saunders, the entomologist who described a New Zealand parasitoid wasp as part of his masters study at Auckland University had the perfect to reason to name it Lusius malfoyi.

He told The Guardian back in 2017, “The dominant narrative is wasps are bad and they sting people and they are awful. But if you look at the diversity of wasps around the world you’ll find only a tiny fraction, less than 1% are pests and problems. And the vast majority of them play a fairly critical roles in the ecosystems they live in.”

In the Harry Potter series, Lucius Malfoy is portrayed as a slimy villain. However in the final book, he redeemed himself by abandoning Voldemort at the Battle of Hogwarts.

Hence, Saunders wanted to redeem the reputation of wasps and hope that people understand that only a tiny fraction of them are harmful.

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Taken by Tom Saunders during masters research supervised by Darren Ward, based at Landcare Research, Auckland, New Zealand.
Tom Saunders & Darren Ward / CC BY (

6.Aname aragog

Hagrid, the gamekeeper and Keeper of Keys and Grounds of Hogwarts acquired Aragog as an egg in 1942.

He hid Aragod in a cupboard until Tom Riddle aka Voldemort exposed its existence. Hagrid then managed to release it into the forest where Aragog spent the rest of his life.

Meanwhile, Aname aragog is a species of trapdoor spider in the family Nemesiidae. A trapdoor spider is a common name for spiders that create burrows with a silk-hinged trapdoor to help them ambush their prey.

This species is found in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

7.Lycosa aragogi

Aname aragog is not the only species named after Aragog. When researchers at the University of Tehran found a new species of wolf spider, they realised it has undeniable similarities to Aragog.

Like the character Aragog, the Lycosa aragogi spider is an aggressive hunter.

These insects do not build webs but instead hunt at night, feeding small insects such as crickets.

Thankfully, they are not toxic or large enough to harm a human.

On top of that, the scientists found that the spider has strong maternal instinct like Aragog.

In the Harry Potter series, Aragog allows her children to attack Potter and Ron Weasly in the Forbidden Forests in order for her children to eat.

8.Ochyrocera aragogue

Researchers Antonio Brescovit, Igor Cizauskas and Leandro Mota from Instituto Butantan, Sao Paula found not one but seven new species of spiders a couple of years ago.

They decided to name one of them Ochyrocera aragogue after Aragog.

Other six spiders were Ochyrocera varys, Ochyrocera atlachnacha, Ochyrocera laracna, Ochyrocera charlotte, Ochyrocera ungoliant and Ochyrocera misspider.

Two of the species were named after characters from J.R.R. Tolkien’s novels. Ochyrocera laracna is named after the giant spider Laracna who attacks Frodo and Sam on their way to Mordor while Ochyrocera ungoliant is named after Laracna’s mother Ungoliant.

Ochyrocera varys is befittingly named after Lord Varys from the Game of Thrones series. Lord Varys is nicknamed The Spider in the series by George R. Martin.

9.Clevosaurus sectumsemper

Snape invents the curse “sectumsempra” while studying at Hogwarts. Potter then discovers it inside Snape’s old book and used it against Draco Malfoy. The curse acts on its victim like an invisible sword.

When University of Bristol student Catherine Klein discovered a 205-million-year-old reptile in a drover of fossils, she decided to give a nod the curse.

The bones showed enough differences from known clevosaurs to call it a new species.

It was concluded that there was a possibility that the animals were fighting each other due to limited food source. Or perhaps they preyed on each other and their bones were broken.

The new species was able to self-sharpen its blade-like teeth with each cut. Thus, the species name sectumsemper was chosen in which also means ‘always cut’.

10.Dracorex hogwartsia

This new species of dinosaur was first discovered in the Hell Creek Formation in South Dakota by three inexperienced paleontologist. They donated it the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis in 2004 for study.

Then a team of museum scientists officially named the new dinosaur species Dracorex hogwartsia, the “Dragon King of Hogwarts”.

In response to this, Rowling put out a statement saying, “I am absolutely thrilled to think that Hogwarts has made a small claw mark upon the fascinating world of dinosaurs.”

She also gave credits to her children who loved dinosaurs for her knowledge on paleontology.

11.Trimeresurus salazar

When a team of researchers from India discovered a new species of green pit vipers, they decided to name the snake after the founder of Slytherin house, Salazar Slytherin.

He was one of the first recorded wizard with Parseltongue, the language of snakes.

A snake is also the symbol of the House of Slytherin.

12.Thestral incognitus

Why do scientists named their species the way they do? New species are often named after a person or places where they were found.

However over the years, there are more new species named after fictional characters such as Harry Potter and Star Wars characters, for instances Polemistus chewbacca and Polemistus yoda.

Eduardo Faundez wrote in Entomology Today pointing out that giving new species curious names is celebrated by some scientists and discouraged by others.

By doing so, however, like naming them after elements in the Harry Potter series, it might get people talking about these new species. Apart from raising awareness on the new addition of biodiversity, it could capture the attention of those in-charge of providing funds to study them.

Faundez himself, along with his colleague found a new genus of shield bug in central Chile.

He explained, “It was found in an area of the country that is pretty well-collected, where we observed thousands of specimens, but only a few of this new species and genus. Something about these bugs made it difficult for people to see them easily, which reminded me of the Thestrals, a breed of winged horses with skeletal bodies from the Harry Potter series. Additionally, our bug has ivory carinae which resemble the skeletal bodies of the Thestrals, which led us to name the bug Thestral incognitus.”

20 videos you should watch on Youtube about Covid-19

During this coronavirus pandemic, fake news and conspiracy theories are also spreading like wildfire alongside the Covid-19 virus.

In an effort to combat fake news, Facebook launched a coronavirus and Covid-19 information hub to provide a central resource for people to get the latest news and information.

Designed to offer reliable official information about the pandemic, the new hub will appear at the top of a user’s News Feed.

Meanwhile, Twitter is removing tweets that are spreading dangerous misinformation about Covid-19. This was after many complained that its policies on misinformation were too lax.

Instead of those unverified news from the social medias and WhatsApp, get yourself educated through proper channels.

If you prefer visual explanation, here are 20 videos you should watch on YouTube about Covid-19:

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1.The Lockdown: One Month in Wuhan

At 10am on Jan 23, 2020, Wuhan went into lockdown. This was a crucial step to stop a deadly virus from spreading further across the nation.

This documentary by China Global Television Network (CGTN) focuses on the medical personnel, volunteers, deliverymen and community service workers in Wuhan.

It is inspiring to see the frontliners keep their spirits up while working tirelessly against Covid-19.

Additionally, the documentary also follows lives of those under quarantine. For example, when one of the patients under investigation is a Muslim, how did the Chinese authority take care of his meals?

Instead of focusing on the illness, The Lockdown: One Month in Wuhan showcases the human stories of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Watch the video here.

2.Coronavirus in China

Here, DW Documentary brings you life during lockdown in the Chinese capital of Beijing.

The video follows journalist Sebastian Le Belzic who works in Beijing who has been living in quarantine at home with his family.

It gives you a glimpse of life in Beijing going to the mall, the supermarket, boarding the subway during lockdown.

Besides this, the documentary also showcases how China’s communist history helped in maintaining order during this period of time.

Just like any other country, the Chinese government continued to spring up new rules almost on a daily basis for the safety and convenience of its people.

For example, every store that sells face masks sells them in daily ration. They are not allowed to sell more than certain amount of face masks in one day.

Watch the video here.

3.Big Story: Epicenter- 24 hours in Wuhan

This is another documentary brought by CGTN. It is a human interest story of how the frontliners works against Covid-19 pandemic.

They visit the houses of patients infected by the virus and disinfect them. Besides this, they offer to buy groceries for the patients’ families, especially the elderly. They also give out pamphlets about the virus to the families.

While many younger generations are able to rely on technology for information, there are those – especially the elders – who do not have access to internet.

Giving out pamphlets with emergency contacts in a smart and crucial ideas to keep them informed; something that is applicable to other countries as well.

Watch the video here.

4.Coronavirus: How the deadly epidemic sparked a global emergency

In interviews filmed on smartphones, Chinese activists and Australian trapped in the lockdown explain what they are going through in China.

The documentary charts how the outbreak occurred and investigates whether a cover-up by Chinese authorities allowed the virus to spread.

It also shows how the medical field in China is coping with the virus.

Watch the video here.

5.Journalist goes undercover at “wet markets”, where the Coronavirus started

60 Minutes Australia in this video interviews Professor Gabriel Leung, who led the fight against the SARS virus.

Prof Leung believes that 60% of the world’s population could become infected with COVID-19.

Moreover, he predicts that up to 45 million people might die from it.

The video also follows Liam Bartlett who travels to Hong Kong and Thailand to find out the likely cause of the disease as well as the latest ongoing efforts to combat it.

Watch the video here.

6.COVID-19: Tracing the First Month of the Novel Coronavirus

Learn about what happened the first month after the Covid-19 outbreak.

The interviews featured in the documentary including a nurse, a Wuhan native and an infectious diseases specialist.

It also explains how having exotic food could lead to exposure new viruses from the wild.

Watch the video here.

7.Coronavirus: Inside Italy’s Covid-19 Lockdown

Reporter Emma Alberici taps into her network of family and friends in Italy to tell stories behind the lockdown for this special report.

The video follows how a young family live their lives in lockdown, how those who still work in essential services and how a young girl does school from home.

It also follows the head surgeon at one of the city’s major hospitals has contracted the Coronovirus from one of his patients. In this video, he shows his life under isolation and how he is being treated for the infection.

Watch the video here.

8.Covid-19/Coronavirus: Epidemiology, Pathophysiology, Diagnostics

If you are willing to sit through a science class, watch this video by Ninja Nerd Science.

Learn about the origin and zoonosis of the virus, the routes of transmission, epidemiology, pathophysiology and diagnostic tests used to identify Covid-19.

Basically, the Ninja Nerd Science compiles the most up to date and recent data on the virus (as of Mar 15, 2020) and present them in this video.

As new information and research is published, the channel continues to provide the latest updates and all the recent data about the new coronavirus.

Watch the video here.

9.Covid-19: Your questions about coronavirus, answered

If you have questions about Covid-19 especially on how it will affect the economy, this is the video for you.

Some of the questions are will Covid-19 trigger a financial crisis or is that an overreaction, which industries will be affected the most, how will low-income countries be affected.

The panelists in the video also discuss will some leaders try to use the pandemic to cement their grip on power and why do mortality rates differ from country to country.

Of course, some of you might want to know when will the crisis reach its peak and how long will we need to wait for the vaccine.

Watch the video here.

10.How wildlife trade is linked to coronavirus

This video not only explains how the new coronavirus is linked to wildlife trade but also why the disease first appeared in China.

One of the experts in the video stated, “The majority of the people in China do not eat wildlife animals. Those who consume these wildlife animals are the rich and the powerful – a small minority.”

Hence, the video explains how the people of China are themselves victims of the conditions that led to coronavirus.

Watch the video here.

11.Why fighting the coronavirus depends on you

In this video, Vox explains how we could slow the virus down from spreading entirely.

It must be done so that severe cases get spread out over a longer period of time and hospitals are less likely to be overwhelmed.

Vox also explains how social distancing is the best way to slow down the spread for everyone.

Watch the video here.

12.The Coronavirus Explained & What You Should Do

For those who love animation, then watch this video by Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell.

The team behind this video aims to make science look beautiful and the way they explain things is “with optimistic nihilism”.

This animation explains what actually happens when it infects a human and what should we all do in fighting Covid-19.

Watch the video here.

13.The Science Behind the Coronavirus, the complete series

“Thank you Dr. Soon. You explained it in a way that I understood everything. This was very informative”; “The doctor has given a very enlightening and simplified explanation on this virus”; “I loved how he broke this down so it could be easily understood”; these are some of the comments left on this video.

Here, the executive chairman of the Los Angeles Times, Dr Patrick Soon-Shiong offers and overview of the coronavirus.

He proposes that understanding how the virus infects our bodies and strategies toward treatment can help as allay our anxiety about it.

Watch the video here.

14.What this chart actually means for Covid-19

You have heard the phrase and seen the hashtags, “Flatten the Curve” but what does it mean?

It’s Okay To Be Smart explains through animation why flattening the curve is important and what we can do on our parts.

One of the comments on this video said that we need to “share this video with all the selfish people refusing to quarantine themselves.” And we couldn’t agree more.

Watch the video here.

15.What Coronavirus symptoms look like, day by day

After being exposed to the Covid-19 virus, it can take from two to 14 days for symptoms to develop.

Every case range from mild to critical. While the average timeline from the first symptom to recovery is about 17 days, some cases are fatal.

Here is a video showcasing what it looks like to develop Covid-19, day by day.

Watch the video here.

16.Why Pandemics like Covid-19 keep happening

From the black death to the coronavirus, why pandemics keep happening to the world?

Apparently, there are plenty of factors attributing to a pandemic. If you dissect the problem closely, then it involves sort of social, cultural, political issues and many more.

Here, the Bloomberg explains what we need to think about in order to tackle pandemics.

Watch the video here.

17.How soap kills the coronavirus

People have been stocking up on hand sanitizers. The idea behind any alcohol-based hand rub like hand sanitizers is to use them when no soap and water is available.

So when you are at home; with soap and water readily available, there is no use for hand sanitizers.

Here Vox explains how plain old soap and water absolutely annihilates coronavirus.

Watch the video here.

18.The new coronavirus: How Should the World Respond?

As the new coronavirus is shutting down the Earth, what should we do? Here the Economist takes on what lessons can the rest of the world learn from China, Singapore and South Korea.

Watch the video here.

19.The Race to Develop A Coronavirus Vaccine

Even when scientists are racing against time to discover the vaccine for Covid-19, it might take at least one year or one year and half before the race is over.

CNBC explores what is at stake and when the world can expect a coronavirus vaccine.

Watch the video here.

20.Dr Martin Blaser Answers Coronavirus Questions from Twitter

When should we expect to see mutations? Does Covid-19 have a lifespan? Is coronavirus the 0.01% that soaps and sanitizers can’t kill?

Dr Martin Blaser, the professor of medicine and infectious diseases at Rutgers University takes on questions from Twitter.

What makes this video interesting is that they cover all kinds of questions, even questions that might not sound so serious. For example, should we limit how many times we use sanitizer in a day.

Watch the video here.

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As there is so much new information and research found on daily basis, it is important to keep yourself updated with new knowledge every day.

What WHO wants you to know about the new coronavirus, COVID-19

Who better to tell you on what to do during this pandemic caused by COVID-19 other than the World Health Organisation (WHO)?

It is a specialised agency of the United Nations responsible for international public health. The organisation’s main objective is to ensure “the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health.”

Basically, the public can rely on them for the most accurate information when it comes to pandemics, diseases and overall health.

While you cannot rely on your minister’s advice – the one who advised that drinking warm water will fight the coronavirus, or your president who wants to end the lockdown while the virus is advancing – you can always rely on WHO.

Since the virus is new, scientists are racing against time to research more about it. According to The Guardian as of 26 March, about 35 companies and academic institutions are working on a vaccine, and the US has already started human trials, so while researchers are still doing their jobs, any other unconfirmed news about the coronavirus should not be shared.

WHO is constantly updating the public with the latest information and discovery on the coronavirus.

Here is KajoMag’s summary of what the World Health Organisation wants you to know about the new coronavirus, COVID-19:

1.Why you should wash your hands regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub?

You have heard it over and over again; wash your hands! Frequently washing with soap and water or alcohol-based hand solution kill viruses that may be on your hands. It is as simple as that but still very important.

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Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. Credits: Pixabay

2.Why is it important to cover your nose and mouth with a bent elbow or tissue when you sneeze or cough?

Droplets spread the coronavirus. By following respiratory hygiene, you protect the people around you from contracting viruses such as cold, flu and coronavirus.

3.Why you should avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth?

You hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses, Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.

4.Why social distancing is important?

By maintaining at least one metre’s distance from others, you are helping to avoid breathing in any droplets from someone who sneezes or coughs in close proximity.

If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets including the COVID-19 if the person coughing has the disease.

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Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

5.Are smokers and tobacco users at higher risk of COVID-19 infection?

Smokers are likely to be more vulnerable to COVID-19 as the act of smoking means that fingers (and possibly contaminated cigarettes) are in contact with lips which increases the possibility of transmission of virus from hand to mouth.

Besides, smokers may also already have lung disease or reduced lung capacity which greatly increase risk of serious illness.

Debunking some myths on coronavirus

COVID-19 virus CAN be transmitted in areas with hot and humid climates.

From the evidence so far, COVID-19 CAN be transmitted in ALL AREAS including areas with hot and humid weather.

So it doesn’t matter if you are out in the sun where the beach is or in an air-conditioned room, the virus can transmitted in ALL AREAS.

According to WHO, the best way to protect yourself against COVID-19 is by frequently cleaning your hands.

By doing this you eliminate viruses that may be on your hands and avoid infection that could occur by then touching your eyes, mouth and nose.

Cold weather and snow CANNOT kill the new coronovirus.

To date, there is no reason to believe that cold weather can kill the new coronavirus.

The normal human body temperature remains the same regardless of the external temperature or weather.

Again, taking a hot bath does not prevent the COVID-19 virus because your temperature still remain the same.

An ultraviolet disinfection lamp cannot kill COVID-19 virus.

In fact, these lamps should not be used to sterilise hands and UV radiation can cause skin irritation.

Eating garlic cannot help prevent infection with the COVID-19.

Garlic may be a healthy food that may have some antimicrobial properties. However, there is no evidence that eating it has protected people from the new coronavirus.

Are antibiotics effective in preventing and treating the new coronavirus?

No, antibiotics do not work against viruses, only bacteria. Therefore, antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment.

However, if you are hospitalised for COVID-19, you may receive antibiotics because co-infection is possible.

Here are some of the things WHO has not confirmed about the coronavirus as research is still underway:

1.Are pregnant women at higher risk from COVID-19?

The data is limited but there is no evidence that pregnant women are at a higher risk for severe illness than the general population.

Nonetheless, due to the changes in their bodies and immune systems, pregnant women can be badly affected by some respiratory infections.

Therefore, it is important for pregnant women to report any possible symptoms to their doctors.

You can read more about Coronavirus, pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding here.

2.How long can COVID-19 can survive on a dry surface?

As at the time of writing, there is no data available on COVID-19 stability on surfaces. So far, laboratory studies have shown SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV that stability in the environment depends on several factors.

These factors include relative temperature, humidity and surface type.

However, the preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days.

3.Can the COVID-19 virus be transmitted through the air?

Studies to date suggest that the virus that causes COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through contact with respiratory droplets rather than through the air.

However, WHO is assessing ongoing research on other ways COVID-19 is spread and will share updated findings.

WHO also advised to keep yourself updated on the latest COVID-19 hotspots. These are the cities or local areas where COVID-19 is spreading widely.

If possible, avoid travelling to such places especially if you are an older person or have diabetes, heart or lung disease.

At the end of the day, keep yourself updated only from verified news. Do not rely on forwarded text messages or unverified testimonies on social media. Who cares what your parents’ neighbours’ third cousin says about the coronavirus – if it has not been scientifically proven, do not believe in it.

10 things you should know about Malaysia Nipah virus outbreak

From Sept 1998 to May 1999, the Malaysia Nipah virus outbreak took place in the Malaysian states of Perak, Negeri Sembilan and Selangor.

Overall, there were 265 confirmed cases with 105 deaths reported during the outbreak. The disease was as deadly as the Ebola virus, but attacked the brain system instead of the blood vessels.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) lists it as one of the viruses mostly likely to cause a global pandemic.

It also served as an inspiration for American movie Contagion (2011) and Indian movie Virus (2019).

The chain of contagion involving bats and pigs in the Contagion (2011) is reminiscent of the trail of Nipah virus. The movie similarly involved the disturbance of a bat colony by deforestation as the source of the outbreak.

Meanwhile, Virus (2019) is a medical thriller set against thr backdrop of the 2018 Nipah virus outbreak in Kerala.

Here are 10 things you need to know about the Malaysia Nipah virus outbreak:

1.They first thought it was caused by JE

The virus first hit pig farms in Ipoh, Perak where the pigs were found to have respiratory illness and encephalitis.

At first, Malaysian authorities thought Japanese encephalitis (JE) was the cause of the outbreak. Hence the authorities deployed early control measures such as mosquito fogging and vaccination against JE.

However, none of the measures was effective since more cases emerged.

2.How the virus was first discovered

If the disease was coming from mosquitoes, it would have infected people of all races and religions. But then only those from the Chinese community were catching the disease.

The key person who realised that they were dealing with a brand new virus was Dr Chua Kaw Beng.

In an interview with US media outlet NPR, Dr Chua recounted how he had discovered the Nipah virus.

Back then, he was still a virologist in training at Universiti Malaya. When he showed his discovery to one of his professors, they told him to throw it away.

Instead of listening to his professor Dr Chua, he packed it up and brought the sample into the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in the US. Under the pretext of studying mosquito-borne diseases, Dr Chua sealed the virus in his suitcase and hand-carried it on a flight to the US.

There, Dr Chua used CDC’s powerful microscopes to study the virus.

It turned out it was a type of paramyxovirus that actually came from livestock.

The minute he realised how dangerous the virus could be, Dr Chua made a phone call to Malaysian officials.

This time, the government listened and took the most drastic measure. The government deployed Malaysian army for the country’s largest animal culling.

In the end, almost one million pigs were shoved into pits and shot.

What Dr Chua did to bring the virus to the US might be unethical and even against the law (transporting a sample of a virus in your hand carry without authorisation is illegal) but if he did not do what he did, there might be more casualties from the outbreak.

3.What are the symptoms of Nipah virus infection

The symptoms of Nipah virus infection range from asymptomatic infection to acute respiratory and fatal encephalitis.

Initially, the infected people develop symptoms such as headache, muscle pain, vomiting and sore throat.

These symptoms can be followed by dizziness, drowsiness and neurological signs that indicate acute encephalitis.

In severe cases, the patient can progress to coma within 24 to 48 hours after experiencing encephalitis and seizures.

While the incubation period is believed to range from four to 14 days, there are reports of an incubation period as long as 45 days.

Once infected, the primary treatment for humans is supportive care.

Depending on different factors such as effective epidemiological surveillance and clinical capability, the fatality rate is estimated at 40% to 75%.

4.What is the natural host of the Nipah Virus

Scientists have found that fruit bats of the Pteropodidae- particularly species belonging to the Pteropus genus are the natural hosts for Nipah virus.

However, there is no apparent disease in fruit bats caused by the virus.

5.How the virus is transmitted

The virus was subsequently named after Kampung Sungai Nipah where the sample of the virus was taken.

During the outbreak in Malaysia, most human infections resulted from direct contact with sick pigs or their contaminated tissues.

But how did pig farms became the Nipah virus factories in the first place?

About a decade after the outbreak, scientists found that pigs had been getting Nipah virus for years. They most probably picked it up from fruit bats.

Since the outbreaks were small, nobody really noticed because the pig farms were smaller.

As the farmers changed the way they raised pigs by packing them into tight areas so they could produce more meat, the virus could multiply even faster.

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A depiction of how the Nipah Virus spreads from animals infected by it to communities of people. Credits: Creative Commons.

6.Is there any vaccine?

According to WHO, there are no vaccines available against Nipah virus infection to date. Nonetheless, WHO has identified Nipah as a priority disease for the WHO Research and Development Blueprint.

As for treatment, intensive supportive care is recommended to treat severe respiratory and neurological complications.

The good news is that as of March 2020, it was reported that there is a set of newly potential vaccines against Nipah virus.

Developed by the University of Parma, Italy, the vaccines generated a strong immune response in pigs. This is promising news for protection against the Nipah virus.

7.What are the prevention and control for the Nipah virus infection?

Based on what happened in 1999, routine and thorough cleaning and disinfection of pig farms may be effective in preventing infection.

If an outbreak is suspected, the animal farms are to be quarantined immediately.

Culling of infected animals followed by close supervision of carcasses is also necessary.

8.The aftermath of the Malaysia Nipah virus outbreak

First of all, pig farms in Malaysia became a lot of cleaner after the outbreak. Farmers now keep pigs isolated from other animals and people.

Most surviving pig farmers of the outbreak have turned to palm oil and cempedak plantations.

In Kampung Sungai Nipah, visitors can go back in time to learn about the outbreak at Sungai Nipah Time Tunnel Museum.

There, visitors can listen to survivors’ stories and how their lives changed since the outbreak.

9.Nipah virus outbreak in other countries

Since 1998, there have been at least 15 more outbreaks of Nipah virus, all whicj occurred within Bangladesh and neighbouring parts of India.

The outbreak areas lie within the range of Pteropus species.

One of the outbreaks took place in the state of Kerala, India in 2018. The virus was traced to the fruit bats found in the area. While the outbreak was contained and declared over on June 10 that year, the virus infection managed to claim 17 lives.

Transmission electron micrograph (TEM) depicted a number of Nipah virus virions from a person’s cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Credits: Public Domain.

10.The most important lesson from the Malaysia Nipah virus outbreak

Dr Chua and fellow researchers Dr Looi Lai Meng wrote a paper on the lessons from the Malaysia Nipah virus outbreak in 2007.

According to them, from political to law regulation, there were plenty of lessons to learn from the outbreak.

Yet, there was one particular lesson that we needed to be reminded over and over again and applicable to every other outbreak.

Chua and Looi stated, “Almost 75 per cent of emerging infectious diseases over the last century zoonoses, having jumped the species barrier to infect humans. The far-reaching effects of environmental mismanagement (such as deforestation and haze) cannot be overemphasised, as this can lead to encroachment of wildlife into human habitats and the introduction of zoonotic infections into domestic animals and humans.”

Basically, more humans are exposed to viruses that naturally exist in wildlife because we keep on encroaching into their habitats.

American politician Stewart Udall once said, “Plans to protect air and water, wilderness and wildlife are in fact plans to protect man.”

Once we humans fail to protect the environment and wildlife, we fail to protect ourselves.

Sarawak once exported over 60 tonnes of pangolin scales in the 1950s


Did you know that it was legal to export pangolin scales in Sarawak back in the 1950s?

Pangolin (Manis javanica) was hunted for its scales and then exported through Kuching.

This unique animal has large, protective scales covering their skin. It is the only know mammal to have this feature.

They live in hollow trees or burrows. Pangolins are nocturnal and tend to be solitary. They only meet to mate. Their diet consists of mainly ants and termites, which they capture using their long tongues.

According to a report by Tom Harrisson and Loh Chee Yin, from 1958 to 1964 Sarawak exported more than 60 tonnes of pangolin scales.

Harrisson and Loh found in their study that each pangolin’s exportable scales average about 3 catty (1.8kg).

Here comes the sad part; since the maturity of the animals does not effect the value of their scales, so the traders back then even exported scales from younger pangolins.

The researchers calculated based on the weight of the pangolin scales that there over 50,000 pangolins were hunted for their scales in just seven years!

Where did these pangolin scales came from

Harrisson and Loh wrote, “Ninety-nine per cent of the scales exported from Sarawak came from Indonesian Borneo.

“They were being smuggled over mainly to the border towns of Krokong in the First Division and Lubok Antu in the Second Divison, while shops in Tebakang, Serian and Simanggang also bought any amount offered to them for sale by local people or by Indonesians, in quantities ranging from 50 to 500 katis.”

The pangolin scales that came to the dealers in pieces packed in gunny sacks.

For scales that came in with the skin attached usually fetched a poorer prices. This is because they need to boil them first to extract the scales.

“As they reach the shops, they are checked to make sure they are dry, and genuine and then repacked for export to Singapore or Hong Kong, where they are probably cleaned and sorted for re-export to mainlain China,” Harrisson and Loh stated.

The purpose of pangolin scales trades

Pangolin scales were wanted for their so-called medicinal values. They believed it had anti-septic values, stimulated blood veins and sped up the chemical reaction of any medicine.

There were two methods of application.

Firstly, raw pieces of scales were used for scratching itchy skin. It was believed that this would prevent further infection which usually follows if the affected part is scratched by fingernails.

Secondly, pangolin scales were ground into powder and then mixed in with other herbs boiled in water for the patient to drink.

Back then, dealers paid from $200 to $300 per picul or 100 kati for scales or $70 to $90 per pikul for scales still attached to the skin.

These prices also depended on the demand from China.

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The price of pangolin scales depended on demand from China. Credits: Pixabay.
Protecting the pangolin in present day Sarawak

In October 2019, Sarawak Forestry Corporation announced its plan to have the pangolin upgraded to the “totally protected” category.

Totally protected species in Sarawak may not be kept as pets, hunted, captured, killed, sold, imported or exported or disturbed in any way, nor may anyone be in possession of any recognizable part of these animals.

To this day, the pangolin population is still threatened by deforestation and poaching for its flesh and scales.

According to World Conservation Society, pangolin scales are made of keratin which is the same thing that makes our human fingernails and hair.

Hence, eating pangolin scales has no medicinal value whatsoever as it is like eating your own fingernails or hair.

Read more:

Sarawakians were once encouraged to catch shark commercially

How the Bornean Rhinoceros was hunted into extinction in Sarawak

Guam Rail and other recent species recoveries you should know about


According to an updated report of The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, conservation efforts have led to improvements in the status of ten species.

This includes the recovery of the Guam Rail, a bird previously listed as Extinct in the Wild.

Despite these improvements, the IUCN Red List now includes 30,178 species threatened with extinction.

The report also finds there is increasing evidence of the negative effects of climate change. There are now 112,432 species on the IUCN Red List.

“This IUCN Red List update offers a spark of hope in the midst of the biodiversity crisis,” said IUCN Acting Director General, Dr Grethel Aguilar.

“Though we have witnessed 73 genuine species declines, the stories behind the 10 genuine improvements prove that nature will recover if given half a chance. Climate change is adding to the multiple threats species face, and we need to act urgently and decisively to curb the crisis.”

So what are the conservation success stories

The latest IUCN Red List update reveals genuine improvements in the status of eight bird species and two freshwater fishes.

Captive breeding, combined with careful management of wild populations, has been key to these conservation successes.

Among these improvements is the flightless, fast-running Guam Rail (Hypotaenidia owstoni).

It is the second bird in history to recover after being declared Extinct in the Wild, after the California Condor (Gymnogyps californianus).

Once widespread on the Pacific island of Guam, its numbers declined after the Brown Tree Snake (Boiga irregularis) was accidentally introduced at the end of World War Two.

In 1987, the last wild Guam Rail was killed by this invasive predator.

Thanks to a 35-year captive breeding programme, the Guam Rail is now established on the neighbouring Cocos Island.

However, the bird is still classified as Critically Endangered – one step away from extinction.

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Guam Rail at the Cincinnati Zoo.
© Greg Hume

Other species

In Mauritius, the Echo Parakeet (Psittacula eques) continues its recovery thanks to conservation efforts. This effort included a highly successful captive breeding programme.

There are now more than 750 Echo Parakeets in the wild. With this update the species has been reclassified as Vulnerable, following its improvement from Critically Endangered to Endangered in 2007.

Two freshwater fish species – the Australian Trout Cod (Maccullochella macquariensis) and Pedder Galaxias (Galaxias pedderensis) – have likewise improved, from Endangered to Vulnerable and Critically Endangered to Endangered respectively.

Decades of conservation action have focused on establishing additional subpopulations through reintroductions and wild-to-wild translocations.

Both species face threats from invasive species and habitat destruction and degradation.

Increasing evidence of the effects of climate change

Despite these successful conservation stories, climate change has contributed to the declines of species. Some of them are several freshwater fishes and the reef-dependent Shorttail Nurse Shark.

Assessments in this update show climate change affects species by, for example, altering habitats and increasing the strength and frequency of extreme weather events.

This Red List update reveals that 37 per cent of Australia’s freshwater fish species are threatened with extinction.

Of this number, at least 58% are directly impacted by climate change.
Fish are highly susceptible to extreme droughts caused by declining rainfall and increasing temperatures.

Climate change also compounds the threat from invasive alien species, which can move into new areas as water temperature and flow change.

Native to the Western Indian Ocean, the Shorttail Nurse Shark (Pseudoginglymostoma brevicaudatum) has declined by approximately 80% over 30 years.

Simultaneously affected by unmanaged fishing and climate change, it has moved from Vulnerable to Critically Endangered.

Living only in shallow waters where it has no refuge from fishing, the shark is losing its habitat due to coral reef degradation caused in part by ocean warming.

Climate change is also threatening Dominica’s national bird, the Imperial Parrot (Amazona imperialis).

While hurricanes naturally occur in the Caribbean, their increased frequency and intensity result in high bird mortality and habitat destruction, alongside devastating impacts on people.

The species declined from Endangered to Critically Endangered after Hurricane Maria in 2017, the strongest hurricane on record to have struck the island. There are now estimated to be fewer than 50 mature individuals left in the wild.

Eucalypts assessed worldwide

Rainbow Eucalyptus © Thomas Caldwell CC BY SA 2.0
Rainbow Eucalytpus (Maui Garden of Eden, Hawaii)
© Thomas Caldwell

All known eucalypt species worldwide have been assessed in this Red List update, revealing that almost 25 per cent are threatened with extinction.

Of the 826 eucalypts – comprising the Eucalyptus, Corymbia and Angophora species groups – 812 occur only in Australia.

As keystone species, they define the landscape of the entire Australian continent, and are culturally significant to its First Nations People.

Eucalypts including the Vulnerable Eucalyptus moluccana are the sole food source for the Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus), which has declined significantly due to loss of eucalypt habitat.

Elsewhere in the world eucalypts can be highly invasive, but in their native range in Australia they face threats from human use of land, especially agriculture and urbanisation.

This has resulted in population declines of at least 30% for 134 eucalypts, such as the Endangered Rose Mallee (Eucalyptus rhodantha), which has declined by more than 50%. Mining also threatens some restricted range species, such as the Critically Endangered Eucalyptus purpurata.

Critical habitat for conservation now remains in the areas between rivers and land, on roadside patches and in paddocks where lone trees often remain.

6 environmental issues of 2019 that you should know about

Looking back at 2019, there were so many environmental issues and news happening around the world that even the most closed off person would have heard about it.

Getting to know more about these issues and doing something about them will be way more meaningful than criticizing TIME Magazine’s person of the year for 2019 Greta Thunberg and her campaign. (ahem, Trump)

As we close the year, let us all take a look back on the major environmental issues for 2019 you should know (and hopefully concerned) about:

1.Our oceans are running out of oxygen
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The oxygen in our ocean is depleting.

While the species on land are breathing freely, the species in the oceans are slowly suffering from low level of oxygen.

In a report by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the loss of oxygen from the world’s ocean is increasingly threatening fish species and disrupting ecosystems.

Driven by climate change and nutrient pollution, ocean oxygen loss is a growing problem for species such as tuna, marlins and sharks.

These species are particularly sensitive to low oxygen because of their large size and energy demands.

They are slowly being driven into increasingly shallow surface layers of oxygen-rich water causing them to become more vulnerable to over-fishing and becoming bycatch.

On top of this, very low ocean oxygen levels can also affect basic processes like the cycling of elements crucial for life on Earth such as nitrogen and phosphorus.

2.Almost half of the world’s Heritage sites could lose their glaciers by 2100
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Glasiers are slowly disappearing from World Heritage sites such as in the Swiss Alps.

We know that our glaciers are disappearing, but according to a study by IUCN they are disappearing from almost half of the world’s heritage sites.

These sites include Grosser Aletschgletscher in the Swiss Alps, Khumbu Glacier in the Himalayas or Greenland’s Jakobshavn Isbrae.

Researchers predicted glacier extinction by 2100 under a high emission scenario in 21 of the 46 natural World Heritage sites where glaciers are currently sites.

Even under a low emission scenario, eight of the 46 World Heritage Sites will completely lose their ice by 2100.

In order to save our glaciers, there is a need to see significant cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

3.More and more animals are found with plastics inside their stomachs
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2020 is the year that everyone should dispose their plastic waste properly and say ‘No’ to single-use plastic bags.

Whales, birds, deer, turtles and cows; these are among the animals found to have died from plastic ingestion this year.

Plastic pollution remained one of our top environmental issues for 2019. Clearly, we are not doing enough to curb the problem.

It is unsure if animals with plastic-filled stomachs are becoming more common sightings, or if we are more aware of the issue now.

Nonetheless, according to National Geographic, we are producing more plastics than ever.

In 1950, we produced 2.3 million tonnes of it. In 2015, we produced 448 million tonnes. Production is expected to double by 2050.

Unless we do something about our plastic pollution, we will see more and more animals with plastics in their stomachs making headlines in 2020.

4.Only one-third of the world’s longest rivers remain free-flowing
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Just one-third of our rivers are free-flowing, some of them are blocked by a dam like this.

According to a study by scientific journal Nature, only 37% of the world’s 246 longest rivers remain free-flowing.

So what caused our river not to flow? Dams and reservoirs are greatly reducing the benefits that healthy rivers provide.

Now, only 21 of the world’s 91 rivers longer than 1,000 km still have a direct connection from source to sea.

Most of these rivers are in the Arctic, Amazon basin and the Congo basin.

Additionally, the study estimates they are about 60,000 large dams worldwide with more than 3,700 hydropower dams on the way.

Another terrifying fact is that recent analysis of 16,704 populations of wildlife globally showed that populations of freshwater species experienced the most pronounced declined of all vertebrates over the past half-century.

5.Forest fires became one of our top environmental issues for 2019
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Forest fires are happening around the world from the Amazon to Borneo.

From Indonesia to Siberia, our forests are burning. According to Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research the number of fires in the country had jumped 84% in August this year over the same period in 2018.

Meanwhile according to Global Forest Watch, the tropics have lost some 8.9 million acres of primary rainforest.

Even Siberia is burning with massive blazes producing more than 166 tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2019. That is almost equal to the annual emission of 36 million cars!

6.One billion people will be threatened by climate change by 2050

With the oceans warming and glaciers are melting, no part of the world will be spared by rising sea-levels.

These impacts of climate change could affect one billion people by 2050.

A new United Nation (UN) report released in September 2019 makes it clear that changes will continue, and they will be irreversible even if the climate stabilizes.

For example, ice-dependent polar species such as walruses and penguins are threatened with extinction as their sea ice habitat disappears.

All photos are from Pixabay.

Get to know these 12 animal species named after Charles Hose

Charles Hose was not just a British colonial administrator, he was a prominent zoologist and ethnologist. He also contributed to the discovery of oil in Sarawak.

Hose first arrived in Sarawak in April 1884 when he was first posted in the Baram area. He was then made the Resident of Sibu on June 1, 1904.

Between April and June 1904, Hose led a force of 200 Kayans in Belaga on an expedition to attack the Dayaks on Bukit Batu.

This group of Dayak allegedly had committed murders against other tribes for three years.

During his tenure in Sarawak, he had explored most of Sarawak’s mountainous districts, especially in the far interior of Baram area.

He collected many species of flora and fauna and then presented them to the British and other museums.

Thanks to his contribution to science, he was conferred an honorary degree by the University of Cambridge.

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A fort in Marudi named after Hose.
As for his work as a zoologist, several of these animals species were named after Hose:
1.Hose’s langur (Presbytis hosei)

In Sarawak, it lives in the lowlands and hill ranges, including the Dulit range and Usun Apau plateau.

According to Hans P. Hazebroek and Abang Kashim bin Abang Morshidi in National Parks of Sarawak, there were reports of sightings of Hose’s langur at Similajau National Park in Bintulu.

However, this might be an isolated population.

As for Niah’s lowland forest, Hose’s langur has no longer been seen where it was previously known to occur.

This animal is most often found in groups of six to eight animals. Additionally, each of this group comprises of one male, several females and their offspring.

They feed on seeds and leaves. It has four species namely Miller’s grizzled langur (Presbytis hosei canicrus), Everett’s grizzled langur (Presbytis hosei everetti), Hose’s grizzled langur (Presbytis hosei hosei) and Saban grizzled langur (Presbytis hose sabana).

2.Hose’s shrew or Bornean pygmy shrew (Suncus hosei)

This poor animal is often listed as the Etruscan shrew (Suncus etruscus) but they are actually a distinctly different species.

This species of shrew is endemic in Borneo particularly in northern Sarawak and northeastern Sabah.

Since there is little information about this animal, it has been listed as a Data Deficient species by IUCN in 2008.

3.Hose’s pygmy flying squirrel (Petaurillus hosei)

This nocturnal animal can be spotted in a nest hole in a dead tree of dipterocarp forest. Here in Borneo, Hose’s pygmy flying squirrel has been spotted in Sepilok in Sabah, Baram and Niah in Sarawak as well as in Brunei.

It is similar to the lesser pygmy flying squirrel but smaller in size and has totally pale checks.

4.Hose’s palm civet (Diplogale hosei)
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An illustration by Joseph Smit. Credits: Public Domain.

Oildfield Thomas was a British zoologist who worked at the Natural History Museum. There he described over 2,000 new species and subspecies including Hose’s palm civet.

Thomas described it in 1892 a year after Hose collected the first specimen in Sarawak.

The interesting part is the first living specimen was only collected in 1997 and released after two months. That is almost a century after Hose collected it!

Besides Sarawak, Hose’s palm civet can also be found in Sabah, Brunei and Kalimantan.

5.Four-striped ground squirrel (Lariscus hosei)

Here is another species discovered by Hose that is completely endemic to Borneo. It is scattered around Sabah at Mount Kinabalu as well as mountains in northern Sarawak. This include Mount Dulit, Kalulung, Batu Song and the Kelabit highlands.

Just like Hose’s palm civet, it was Thomas who first described this species in 1892.

6.Fraser’s dolphin (Lagenodelphis hosei)

In 1895, Hose found a skull on a beach in Sarawak that he donated to the British Museum. Many years later in 1956, an expert in cetacean Francis Fraser examined the skull.

His discovered that it was a new genus of a dolphin. So the common name of the dolphin was named after Fraser while the specific name was given in Hose’s honour.

As it turned out, this dolphin can be found in the deep waters of the Pacific Ocean.

How about heading to the beach and collecting some bones or skulls? Who knows you could end up like Hose and have a species named after you years after your death?

7.Hose’s frog (Odorrana hosii)

While most of the animal species named after Hose were endemic to Borneo and rare, this one is more common than the rest.

It is a species that can be found in Southeast Asia including the Malay peninsular, Borneo, Tioman, Phuket, Bangka, Belitung and Java.

Perhaps the facts that it is more tolerant of pollution and more adaptable to secondary forest makes this frog plentiful in our environment.

8.Hose’s tree frog (Philautus hosii)

Also known as Hose’s bush frog, this species lives at the lowlands and hilly regions of Indonesia, Malaysia and possibly Brunei.

Charles Hose
A portrait sketch of Charles Hose. Credit: Public Domain.
9.Hose’s toad (Pedostibes hosii)

This toad is distributed in Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and southern Thailand. It habitats subtropical or tropical moist lowlands forests and rivers.

Its more known common names are Asian yellow spotted climbing toad and Boulenger’s Asian tree toad.

10.Hose’s broadbill (Calyptomena hosii)

Unlike other birds in the genus Calyptomena, Hose’s broadbill is known for its distinct blue belly.

It is endemic to highland forests in northern Borneo.

11.Black oriole (Oriolus hosii)

In September 2011, photographer Tony Sawbridge visited Paya Maga in Ulu Trusan, Lawas. There he was able to catch the Black oriole in a photo.

Sharing his experience of capturing the Black oriole, Sawbridge told The Guardian, “It required a 4-wheel drive trip to see it, followed by a hike into site known to some local people, then two nights camping in the rainforest. We were told that were the first Westerners to see the bird in over ten years.”

This bird is one of the least known of the orioles and can only be found in Sarawak.

Hose was the one who collected the first specimen of this bird on Mount Dulit, at the head of Baram river.

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Joseph Gerrald Keulemans illustrated this image of Black Oriole in 1893. Credits: Public Domain.
12.Hose’s Mongoose (Herpestes hosei)

Hose’s Mongoose is a subspecies of the short-tailed mongoose (Herpestes brachyurus) but it is sometimes considered a separate species instead.

This mongoose is similar to the short-tailed mongoose but with more reddish-brown and short hair.

Furthermore, the claws are straighter and more slender compared to Herpestes brachyurus.

The only known specimen of this species was collected in Baram way back in 1893.

How the Bornean rhinoceros was hunted to extinction in Sarawak

In the beginning of 20th century, the Bornean rhinoceros was common in Sarawak.

Also known as the Eastern Sumatran rhinoceros or Eastern hairy rhinoceros, it was one of the three subspecies of Sumatran rhinoceros.

Its subspecies name (Dicerohinus sumatrensis harrissoni) was named after British anthropologist and Sarawak museum curator Tom Harrisson.

Compared to other Sumatran rhinos, the Bornean rhinoceros has the darkest skin and the fur on its calves is much denser.

Unlike the other two subspecies, the Bornean rhinoceros is markedly smaller and its head size also relatively smaller.

Rhinoceros in Borneo during prehistoric times

When sea levels fell during the Late Miocene period, between five and seven million years ago, Sundaland probably stood above the sea once again.

These mammals included primitive rhinoceroses, elephants, and monkeys. In detail, these forests may have looked somewhat different from the forests we see today.

According to Hans P. Hazebroek and Abang Kashim Abang Morshidi in National Parks of Sarawak, many animals that were widespread across the Asian continent may have reached Borneo at this time.

When the sea level rose during the early Pliocene Epoch, Borneo turned into a huge island again. So the mammals that reached Borneo stayed here and continued to evolve in isolation.

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The primitive rhinoceros most probably came to Borneo five to seven million years ago.
Edward Banks’ account on rhinoceros hunting in Sarawak during the 1930s

While the primitive rhinoceroses survived their journey into Borneo, most of their descendants did not survive long enough on this island.

Over the past century, this animal was highly threatened by hunting, poaching for their horn and habitat loss.

Even during the 1930s, Sarawak Museum Curator Edward Banks described how the rhinoceros population in Sarawak had been greatly reduced.

In an article published on The Sarawak Gazette on Aug 2, 1937, he wrote, “Fifty years ago anyone who shot a rhino was rather disappointed; he couldn’t eat it all, it was too far to carry home, and the most that could be obtained from it was an occasional sword hilt made from the horn; these can still be obtained at a fabulous price.”

According to Banks, a rhino in the 1930s may fetch anything up to $300-$400. He pointed out, “Its horn being the most useful part but the blood and flesh also fetch a price, solely on account of the supposed aphrodisiac properties appreciated by the Chinese.”

Banks also highlighted areas in Sarawak that had high number of rhinoceros populations included Ulu Rejang, Ulu Baram and Ulu Trusan.

“There are almost none now and in fact after a prolonged visit to the Ulu Trusan into a once populous rhino country, I saw only once a trace made about three years ago and nothing else under five years ago,” Banks wrote in 1937.

He continued, “A once populous rhino district has been wiped out by the Dayaks and one can only feel that it is a good thing that no rhinos have strayed in during the last five years and attempted to repopulate the district as they would have assuredly gone too.”

Hunting Bornean rhinoceros

The museum curator also commented on how different ethnics hunted these rhinoceros. The Punan was “an uncontrollable curse until he had finished all the rhinos”. Meanwhile, the Kayans and Kenyahs “were, as usual, reasonable, shared their beasts out among themselves, and made them last, until they finally took up a little over the garden wall poaching.”

Nonetheless, the ones that brought more harm to the rhinos were the wandering bands of professional Dayak hunters.

Banks described them to be really persistent, stating “..(they) stay on the beast’s tracks from fifteen to twenty days until they catch it up.”

Even during the 1930s, there were no bands of hunters because there were no more rhinos.

Back then there were only few individuals on Mulu, Murud, Laiun and Tibang mountains. If there were odd ones that showed up in Baram and Trusan, there were the strays coming over from the Kalimantan side.

Hazebroek and Abang Kashim also pointed out, “It is reputed that the last rhinoceros in Mulu was hunted and killed just before the Second World War. Once these magnificent animals must have been quite common in Mulu. As indicated by Berawan guides, large pools on some ridges of Gunung Mulu presumably represent their wallows.”

Sarawak’s last rhinoceros is at Pulong Tau?

Pulong Tau is an area flanks the Bario highlands. It straddles part of the headwaters of the Baram, Tutoh and Limbang rivers.

In 1986, the National Parks and Wildlife Office staff sighted rhinoceros tracks and wallows in the area.

Then in 1997, they disovered rhinoceros tracks again but there were no sightings of the animals.

Regardless, the Malaysian government declared the Bornean rhinoceros to be extinct in the wild in Malaysian Borneo.

In March 2016, however, a young female rhino was captured on the other side of Sarawak border in East Kalimantan. Hence, this gives us hope that they still exist in the wild.

Is it fair to say that Sarawakians were the ones who drove the rhinoceros into extinction in our own backyard? We believe so.

In Banks’ own words, “It is not too much to say that the rhino has been immolated to provide the Chinese with babies, the Dayak hunters with patent leather shoes and their girlfriends with silk umbrellas.”

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