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The legends of how paddy came to Sarawak

As rice is a staple food in Sarawak like any another Asian culture, paddy planting plays an important economical role in the local communities.

Though most people nowadays stock up their rice from supermarkets, there are people who still cultivate rice for self-consumption.

However, have you ever wondered how paddy came to Sarawak?

Here we take a look on the different legends of how paddy came to this Malaysian state of Borneo:

1. Singalang Burong taught the Ibans how to plant paddy
According to an Iban legend, the God of war taught the Iban how to plant the paddy. Credits: Pixabay.

Singalang Burong is the God of War and one of the deities in Iban mythology. According to legend, he had a daughter named Endu Dara Tincin Temaga (or Endu Sudan Galigan Tincin Mas).

One day, Menggin (or Siu) who was a human found a feathered robe belonging to Tincin Temaga during a hunt.

He took the robe into his possession and Tincin Temaga made Menggin promise that he would never touch another bird.

To make a long story short, Menggin married Tincin Temaga and they had a son named Seragunting.

After the birth of their son, Menggin accidentally broke his promise to his wife.

Upset, Tincin Temaga left her husband, returning to her father’s realm. Together, Menggin and Seragunting went out to look for her. They followed Tincin Temaga’s instructions on the routes and ways to avoid the traps to Singalang Burong’s home in the celestial realm.

Eventually, they arrived at Singalang Burong’s house and remaining there for one whole year.

During this period, Seragunting learned how to read omen, catch fish, dear, and wild pig as well as how to plant paddy.

Singalang also gave Menggin and Seragunting some paddy to bring home to the mortal world.

There are many written accounts of this legend available out there. But one of the most detailed stories was written by Edwin H. Gomes.

Gomes was an English missionary who wrote the book Seventeen Years among the Sea Dyaks of Borneo: a record of intimate association with the natives of the Bornean jungles (1911).

Gome wrote Singalang Burong said this when he handed them the paddy.

“You have learned here how to plant paddy. I will give you some paddy to take away with you, and when you get back to your own country, you can teach men how to cultivate it. You will find rice a much more strengthening article of food than the yams and potatoes you used to live upon, and you will become a strong and hardy race.”

2. The plant of Pleiades or Seven Sisters
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In another legend said the paddy plant must be cultivated first under the seven stars. Credits: Pixabay.

This legend of how paddy was first brought to Borneo was recorded by the first Ranee of Sarawak, Margaret Brooke in her book My Life in Sarawak (1913). A fortman’s wife in Simanggang (Sri Aman) told the Ranee this version of the legend.

Long time ago, there was a man who lived alone in a small hut by the river. After a series of heavy downpours and thunderstorms, the man watched the driftwood and debris floating down from the upper river past his house.

Then, a huge tree with its roots still intact floated down the river. The tree got caught on a sandbank with its roots emerging above the water.

The man noticed there was a strange-looking plant entangled in its roots. So the man took his sampan and went out into the river to collect it.

But after that he thought the plant had no use so he threw it at the corner for his hut. That night, the man had a dream.

A spirit told him that “the plant was necessary to the human race, but that it must be watched and cherished, and planted when seven stars were shining together in the sky just before dawn.”

After he woke up, then man went to his neighbour and told him about the dream. His neighbour said that the Petara (deity) himself who appeared in that dream and the man should listen to him.

Later that night, the man waited for another dream to tell when he was to look for the seven stars.

The Ranee wrote:

“In due time, under Patara’s guidance, the man noticed the ‘necklace of Pleiades’ appearing in the sky. The little plant was then put in the ground, where it grew and multiplied. The people in neighbouring villages also procured roots to plant in their farms, so that the paddy now flourishes all over the country and the people of Sarawak have always enough to eat.”

3. The Chinese legend of paddy
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It has been scientifically proven that all Asian rice come from China. Credits: Pixabay.

There are plenty of Chinese legends on how paddy came to Earth. In one legend, a Chinese deity named Shennong was the one who introduced paddy planting to human race.

Shennong was credited for teaching the ancient Chinese how to use the plow and medicinal plants. From China, rice cultivation was spread to India, Southeast Asia, Korea and Japan.

Putting aside these folk stories and myths, it had been scientifically proven that all forms of Asian rice come from a single domestication that happened between 8,200 and 12,000 years ago in China.

Researchers from Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in the United States did the research using a map of rice genome variations and published their work in Nature journal back in 2012.

The research also indicated the domestication of rice occurred in the Pearl River Valley regions of China.

Even so there are no written records or proven research of how paddy planting introduced to Sarawak, only mythical legends to tell the next generations.

Do you have know any legends of how paddy came to Sarawak in your culture? Share with us in the comment box.

10 interesting facts about Indonesia’s Kapuas River

Borneo has often been referred to as the Amazon of Asia thanks to its high density biodiversity. So if Borneo is the Asian Amazon, the ‘Amazon river’ of this island is none other than the Kapuas river.

Here are 10 interesting facts you need to know about Kapuas River, Indonesia

1.It is the longest river in Indonesia

At 1,143 kilometers in length, it is the longest river of Indonesia and the island of Borneo.

It is also the world’s longest river. The delta of Kapuas river is at Pontianak, the capital of West Kalimantan Province.

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An early morning view of Kapuas river from Semitau.

2.Wait, there are two Kapuas riverS?

There are actually two Kapuas rivers flowing from the same mountain range. One Kapuas river flows west into the South China Sea. Meanwhile, the other Kapuas river flows to the south, merging with the Barito Sea and ends at Java Sea.

3. Kapuas river originates from the Muller mountain range

Both Kapuas rivers originate from the Muller Mountain Range, located south of the Indonesian-Malaysian border.

The mountain range was named after Major Georg Muller. He was a soldier and even fought for Napolean Bonaparte when France attacked Russia.

So how did a European army end up in the middle of Borneo in the 19th century?

Born in Mainz, Germany in 1790, Muller joined the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army in 1817.

He took part in the Dutch attack against the Sambas kingdom in 1818.

In 1825, he led an expedition to cross Borneo inland via Mahakam and Kapuas rivers. However, the expedition ended in tragedy when he and his party were killed by the local Dayak tribe.

4.There are two national parks on its river banks

Betung Kerihun and Danau Sentarum are the two national parks located at Kapuas river banks.

Together with Lanjak Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary in Malaysia, Betung Kerihun has been proposed as a World Heritage site.

Meanwhile, Danau Sentarum National Park lies in the upper Kapuas river tectonic basin some 700 kilometers from its delta.

5. It is an important source of water and mode of transport

If you spend an early morning in any town located next to the river, you can catch some of the local people doing their daily chores.

You can see young children in large groups before going to school while the women do their washing on the wooden jetties.

Although roads are available to connect most parts of West Kalimantan, the Kapuas river is still the major waterway connecting the centre of Borneo with its western coast.

6.The Kapuas river and its flora and fauna are any researchers’ dream subject

Many researchers believe there are still many new species to discover in Borneo, especially small creatures

The most recent fascinating species found in the river is the Kapuas mud snake back in 2005. German and American researchers discovered it accidentally when it was put in a dark bucket and changed colour 20 minutes later.

The snake has chameleon-like behaviour which allows it to change its epidermal colour spontaneously.

In addition to that, tropical rivers are unlike rivers in temperate zones. To this day, researchers are still gathering more information on hydrology and geomorphology of tropical river system.

7. It has a high density of fish species

There are about 300 fish species recorded in the river basin. The most iconic one is none other the super red arowana fish. It is only found in Kapuas river and is a famous species in the aquarium trade.

Sadly, the species is continuously decreasing because of wild poachers and low productive rates.

8. There are other remarkable species too

Apart from the super red arowana fish, there is one striking fish species found in Kapuas river.

Only officially described in 2008, the eight-banded barb (Eirmotus insignis) is a small zebra-striped fish which measures about 3.6cm in length.

It was found between the towns of Sanggau and Putussibau, among overhanging tree roots and aquatic vegetation.

Where can you find the world’s first lungless frog? In Kapuas river, of course! The Bornean flat-headed frog breathes entirely through its skin.

Scientists first discovered the frog in the middle of Kapuas river basin back in 1978.

9.The longest bridge in Borneo crosses this river

The Tayan Bridge is the longest bridge in Borneo spreading over 1,975 meters. It crosses the Kapuas River in Sanggau, West Kalimantan to connect West Borneo with Central Borneo in Indonesia.

10.You can take a tour upriver from Pontianak

It takes up to two days on the deck to travel up Kapuas river from Pontianak depending on your mode of transportation. In Pontianak, there are travel agencies which can help you to plan a trip upriver if you are feeling adventurous. Plus, there are plenty to see along the river from local villages with different architecture to wildlife that might pass your way.

Go to the furthest upstream and you would find yourself in Tanjung Lokang. Located about 13 hours from Putussibau town by speedboat through Kapuas river, the village belongs to the Dayak Punan.

It is the last village in the Borneo jungle when you are heading east across the island.

3 reasons why you should buy secondhand clothes

Not everyone is a fan of secondhand clothes. Here in Malaysia, there are plenty of bad impressions about them, even with the cuddly label of ‘pre-loved’.

“They are dead people’s clothes.”

“You will never find something fashionable.”

“They are all outdated.”

Secondhand clothes are usually called ‘baju bundle’ or bundle clothes because they are sold in bundles or bulk.

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Secondhand clothes are usually called as baju bundle in Malaysia. Credits: Pexels.      

Lay your bad impressions of baju bundle aside and consider these three reasons why you should buy secondhand clothes:

1. It saves money

Buying pre-loved clothes is undeniably way cheaper than the original price. If you are the fashionable type who likes to curate your outfit of the day daily, with secondhand clothes you can do that without burning burning holes in your pocket.

There are few instances in life that perhaps will make you change your whole wardrobe – losing a lot of weight in a short amount of time is one of them.

Recreating a whole new look and buying a new range of outfits for your wardrobe is affordable with secondhand clothes.

Additionally, it frees up money for other things like vacations or emergency funds.

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You will never know what you find when shop for secondhand clothes. Credits: Pexels.

2.You are helping the environment

Do you know that it takes 700 gallons of water to make a cotton shirt? Do you know that clothes can take up to 40 years to decompose?

There are people out there who throw out clothes after wearing them only a few times. Imagine if everybody was doing the same thing; the amount of clothes piling up in our landfills would be unbelievable.

It is best for all and Mother Nature if everybody would wear their clothes till they are completely worn out. Then it could take decades before our clothes reach the landfill.

Hence, wearing secondhand clothes allows you to do your part for the environment.

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You are reducing waste when you buy pre-loved clothes. Credits: Pexels.

3.The closest you can get to a treasure hunt

You will never know what you will get when you are looking for pre-loved clothes.

Based on my personal experience, I’ve found items from GAP, Banana Republic, Armani Exchange, Forever 21 at one of the thrift shops in Kuching.

The best thing about buying these branded secondhand clothes? They only cost as low as one tenth of the original price.

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AB Bundle Matang, one of the chain thrift shops in Sarawak.

Observing traditional fishing methods at Danau Sentarum National Park

Located in the province of West Kalimantan, Indonesia, the Danau Sentarum National Park is one of the most biodiverse lake systems in the world.

To give you an idea of how diverse; the park is home to about 240 recorded fish species.

Compare that to the European continent which has recorded about 546 species of freshwater fish, and Danau Sentarum has the equivalent of 40% of fish species for the whole of Europe.

The national park which covers an area of 127,393.4 hectares is basically a vast floodplain. Half of the area are lakes while the other half is swamp forest.

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One of the many channels in the complex lake system of Danau Sentarum National Park.

While most national parks in the world impose the heavy rule of ‘no fishing’ within its management area, the same rule cannot be enforced at Danau Sentarum National Park.

This is because there are roughly 20 villages located within the park’s proximity.

About 90% of the locals there are the Malay people while the rest are Dayak Iban.

With most of their villages built right next to a body of water, the lake also gives the villagers accessibility to the outside world besides providing

Most importantly, though, the communities rely heavily on the fish resources as their source of livelihood.

During a trip organised by World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Indonesia from Nov 25 till 28, a group of media practitioners and travel writers paid a visit to Danau Sentarum National Park.

There, the group had the opportunity to cruise through the different channels of the lake system and observe the daily activities of local communities.

And it was not hard to find the locals at the Danau Sentarum. A number of them were seen on their boats busy with different kind of fishing gear.

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The local communities of Danau Sentarum rely heavily on fishing as their source of income.

Fishing nets of all kinds

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One of the fishing gears, commonly called ‘pukat’.
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A closer look at the pukat.

One of the most common types of fishing gear used at Danau Sentarum is the pukat or gill net. The nets look like rectangular hammocks with wooden sticks to put them in place.

Pukat is commonly used all year round. However when the water level drops during dry season, this fishing method is not practical as the net is not entirely submerged.

Apart from the pukat, the locals of Danau Sentarum can be seen casting jala or nets from the bows of their wooden boats.

Jala allows the locals to catch different kinds of fish depending on the mesh sized used.

Another common fishing gear spotted along the lake of the national park was the bubu. This is typically a large cylindrical fish trap made from rattan, although they do make rectangular traps as well.

Some fishermen were still seen using good old hooks. This kind of fishing method is used to catch fish for personal consumption.

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Biawan fishes in cage cultures.

Are those wind chimes?

Bubu is not the only type of fish trap used at Danau Sentarum.

If you are cruising through Danau Sentarum, youmight notice small items hanging from trees along the lake and the stilts of the village houses.

They look like wind chimes from afar but in fact they are bamboo tube traps.

Called tabung by the locals, these fish traps are made from bamboo tubes tied in bundles. The local fishermen used them primarily to trap live ulang uli.

Ulang uli or clown loach (Chromobotia macracanthus) have orange bodies with three black bars. They are usually sold as ornamental fish.

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Tabung hanging from stilts at Danau Sentarum.
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These fish traps are made from bamboo tubes tied in bundles.

Fishing for a living at Danau Sentarum

Apart from ornamental fish, Danau Sentarum fishery folk process their various catches into salted and smoked products for sale.

And their products cannot get any fresher; the fish are immediately gutted right on the boats or their village wharf.

According to one fisherman, Abang Usman from Dusun (village) Semangit, it takes up to four days to completely dry the salted fish.

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Abang Usman from Dusun Semangit.

The salted fish are sold to a seller who comes to the village every two or three days to collect the processed fish.

He explained that the type of fish sold vary according to the season. In September, some of the common catches are toman, baung and biawan.

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A group of villagers gutting fish together to make salted fish.

Fish for food at Danau Sentarum

At Danau Sentarum, fish is the main source of protein for the local villagers. While salted and smoked fishes are tasty and ready to have with a bowl of hot steaming rice, they still can’t beat freshly cooked fish.

And one of the favourite ways to cook any fishes here is with asam pedas, or spicy tamarind fish. It is a Malay sour and spicy fish dish popular in Indonesia.

The added bonus of having your fish freshly caught, is that they don’t have that fishy smell.

So if you are making your way to Danau Sentarum, do not miss out on having a taste of the fish.

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Salted roes from toman fishes, one of the delicacies found at a Malay village in Danau Sentarum.
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It takes up to four days to dry these salted fishes.
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Fish smoking in the process.
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The local fishermen dry their fishes in front of their houses.
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Toman fishes cooked in asam pedas.

Top 20 most amazing facts about Sabah’s biodiversity

Apart from its rich culture, Sabah is also widely known for its rich biodiversity.

Did you know that Sabah’s rainforest even inspired the live action remake of The Jungle Book?

One of the movie’s visual effect artists, Helen Brownell reportedly drew inspiration from her adventures in Sabah for some of the landscapes in the film.

We bet Brownell is not the only one who is amazed by its diverse flora and fauna combined with its unique topography.

For the uninitiated, here are 20 amazing facts about Sabah and its nature:

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Do you know all top three peaks in Malaysia are found in Sabah?
1.Malaysia’s top 3 highest mountains are found in the Land Below the Wind

This Malaysian state of Borneo was given the nickname Land Below the Wind because it lies below the typhoon belt of East Asia.

The highest mountain, Mount Kinabalu stands tall at 4,095m. It is also the highest peak in the Malay Archipelago as well as the highest mountain in Malaysia.

Lonely Planet even named it as one of the world’s 50 most epic hiking trails.

The second highest mountain is Mount Trusmadi at 2,642m and Mount Tambuyukon closing in at 2,579m.

2. 59% of Sabah is covered by forest!

In the ’70s, the forest cover for Sabah was up to 90%. However due to agriculture and development, the number went down to 59% over recent years.

Why it is still amazing is because 59% of Sabah is about the same size as Denmark.

3. There is one place nicknamed the ‘waterfall capital’.

That place is Maliau Basin! Located at the center of the state, the 390 sq km area has at least 28 waterfalls towering over 5 m. This perhaps shows that Maliau Basin may house the highest number of waterfalls per unit area in the world, if not in Malaysia. The one waterfall that stands out is the majestic 7-tier Maliau Falls.

4. 76% of the world’s coral species is found here!

Sabah is home to at least 612 coral species! The state is also part of the Coral Triangle; an area of tropical marine waters of Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Philippines and Timor-Leste. It is recognised as the centre of world marine biodiversity.

5.The largest giant clam species Tridacna Gigas in the world can be found in the Land Below the Wind.

One of the amazing creatures living in Sabah’s water is the giant clam. The largest of them all, Tridacna Gigas can weigh up to 200kg!

In the wild, it has an average lifespan of over 100 years. Apart from Sabah, it also can be found off the shores of the Philippines.

6. There is a safe haven for marine turtles.

Do you know that the oldest marine turtles conservation programme in the world is in Sabah? Established in 1966, the first turtle conservation site in Sabah was on Selingan Island, Sandakan.

Together with Little Bakungan and Gulisaan, these three islands made up Turtle Islands Park which lie in the Sulu Sea.
This park is considered the safe haven for green and hawksbill turtles.

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There is a place which can be considered a safe haven for marine turtles and it is in Sabah.
7. Sipadan is one of the top dive sites in the world.

What do The Guardian, CNN Travel, Dive Magazine, Deacon Herald and Deeper Blue have in common? They all named Sipadan as one of the top dive sites in the world.

Located off the east coast of Sabah, the island was formed by living growing on top of an extinct volcanic cone.

One of the highlights of this island is its Turtle Tomb. It is an underwater cave with maze-like tunnels and chambers where many turtles skeletons have been found from turtles who got lost and ended up drowning in this cave.

8. The largest crocodile species is found in Sabah.

Apart from Sarawak, reptile lovers can also find the largest crocodile species in the Land Below the Wind.
Measuring possibly up to 7 meters in length, the saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) is the largest of all living reptile.

9.Reticulated Python, the longest snake in the world called Land Below the Wind home.

If saltwater crocodile is the largest reptile in the world, the longest reptile is the reticulated python.
Plus, it is also one of the three heaviest snakes in the world. Besides Sabah, this reptile can also be found slithering around South Asia and the Indo-Australian Archipelago.

10.Lower Kinabatangan-Segama Wetlands is the largest Ramsar Site in Malaysia.

A Ramsar Site is a wetland site designated of international importance under the Ramsar Convention. As of 2016, there are 2,231 Ramsar Sites throughout the world and the largest one in Malaysia is Lower Kinabatangan-Segama (78, 803ha).

11.The world’s smallest elephant is found here.

Speaking of Lower Kinabatangan-Segama Wetlands, one of the species calling that places home is the Borneo pygmy elephant.
It is the world’s smallest elephant, a subspecies of Asian elephant.
However according to IUCN, the population has been declining for the past 75 years die to habitat loss and hunting.

12.The world’s tallest tropical tree is here too.

In July 2018, scientists found the world’s tallest tropical tree in Tawau Hills Park. Towering at 96.9m, the tree is Shorea faguetiana located at about 24km from Tawau town.

That tree is even taller than the Statue of Liberty (93m)! Prior to this, the then tallest tree was also found in the state, at the Danum Valley Conservation Area, recorded at 94.1m.

13.  Sabah is home to one of the most wanted birds in the world.

Here in Sabah, you can find one of the world’s most wanted birds by birdwatchers. It is the Bornean Bristlehead, an uncommon species and endemic only to Borneo.

14. One of the oldest tropical rainforest in the world is in Sabah.

Danum Valley Conservation Area, about 2 hours’ drive from Lahad Datu, is not only the largest protected rainforest area in the state, it is also estimated to be almost 140 million years old.

15. Malaysia’s largest marine park is Tun Mustapha Park.

Tun Mustapha Park (TMP) is Malaysian biggest marine park spanning over 898,763ha, off Kudat, Kota Marudu and Pitas districts.

It comprises more than 50 islands including Banggi and Balambangan.

16. You might see the Bornean Falconet, the smallest raptor in the world here too.

The Bornean Falconet or white-fronted falconet is the smallest bird of prey in the world. Endemic to Sabah, this raptor is about 15cm.

17.The most expensive orchid, Rothschild’s Slipper orchid is only found in the Land Below the Wind.
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Mount Kinabalu is where many of Sabah endemic species are found. Credits: Pixabay.

Mount Kinabalu, the highest peak in Malaysia houses many interesting plants and animals. It also harbours the most expensive orchid in the world. One of its stems on the black market is reported to be worth up to $5,000. No wonder it is called “the Gold of Kinabalu” orchid. As always though, we at KajoMag urge our readers to conserve and preserve nature.

18. The world’s longest stick insect is found near Kinabalu Park.

Besides the most expensive orchid, Kinabalu Park is home to the world’s longest stick insects called Phobaeticus chani. Visitors might confuse it with a real stick as it measures at more than 50cm in length.

19. The largest rafflesia species is found in Sabah.

Rafflesia is widely known as the largest individual flower in the world. The largest of the rafflesia species is Rafflesia arnoldii which can also be found in this state.

20. The biggest pitcher plant is found on Mount Kinabalu too.

Here is an interesting fact; the biggest pitcher plant is named after the first White Rajah of Sarawak but it is only can be found in its neighbouring state of Sabah. Hugh Low first collected Nepenthes rajah in 1858 on Mount Kinabalu and named it after his friend, James Brooke.

Growing up to 40cm high and 20cm wide, this plant can even trap small mammals!

10 things you should know about the Bryde’s whale skeleton at Sabah Museum

When you step into the Sabah Museum, the first thing that greets you is a gigantic whale skeleton.

What type of whale is it? Where did they get it from? Are there alot of whale sightings off the coast of Sabah? Perhaps these are the questions that come to your mind as you look at this enormous skeleton.

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A closer look at the whale’s jaw bone.    

Here at KajoMag, we summarised 10 things you should know about the Bryde’s whale skeleton at Sabah Museum:

1. This whale was first found stranded on Dec 14, 2006.

On that day, a group of fishermen found this cetacean stranded near Kampung (village) Lok Urai, Gaya island around 11pm.

Within 12 hours after it was first spotted, a rescue mission was launched by teams from the Fisheries Department, Wildlife Department, Sabah Parks, Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), NGOs and members of the public.

However, the tide was too low for the rescue team to pull the poor creature back to the ocean. Rescuers had to constantly pour seawater on its body to keep it hydrated.

2. The whale was back to the sea the next day.

By Dec 15 at 7.30pm, the team had succeeded in pulling the whale back into the sea. Nonetheless, the then Sabah Fishery Department director, Rayner Stuel Galid raised concerns that the whale might return to its stranding spot.

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A father pointing at the skeleton while his son looks on.
3. The marine mammal was found dead on Dec 17, 2006.

True enough, the animal was found dead near its stranding spot at Gaya Island. The initial plan was to bury it but there was no suitable location.

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A closer look at the whale’s backbone.
4. Its supposedly final resting place was decided.

The carcass was towed to Stomai Rock, somewhere between Pulau Tiga and Gaya Island. Then, it was anchored about 60 to 70m deep into the sea to allow it to decompose naturally.

5. The then Sabah chief minister wanted the whale to be preserved.

Later on Dec 19, then chief minister of Sabah, Musa Aman instructed the Fisheries Department to work together with Sabah Museum Department, Sabah Parks and UMS to conserve the whale’s bones.

6. The whale was back on land on Dec 20.

A team was deployed to bring back the carcass from where it was anchored. They put a giant fishing net to wrap the carcass so that the skeleton remained intact during the process.

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The 20m long skeleton attracts visitors the moment they stepped into the museum.
7. The ‘deboning’ process begins on Dec 21.

The tedious process of separating the bones from the carcass lasted a few days.

It took about 35 people to work round the clock on the carcass starting from its tail. They also dug three enormous holes at Fishery Station Menggatal to bury the whale’s flesh and organs.

8. The whale skeleton was handed to Sabah Museum on Christmas eve 2006.

The team officially handed the whale skeleton to Sabah Museum on Dec 24, just 10 days after it first found stranded.

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The whale skeleton takes up a huge space of Sabah Museum.
9. The identity of the whale is Bryde’s whale.

The whale was identified as Bryde’s whale (Balaenoptera edeni). It was 20.6m long and weighed around 22 to 26 tonnes.

The Kadazandusun people of Sabah call it luulumbo.

According to UMS researchers, approximately 20 species of marine mammals have been recorded in Sabah waters.

The state’s various ecosystems like its coral reefs, mangrove, estuaries and sea grass provides habitats and food resources for these animals, leading to a high number of species found in Sabah.

10. Sabah has the highest  number of whale stranding cases in Malaysia.

The Bryde’s whale at Sabah Museum was not the only stranded cetacean in the state.

In 2012, it was reported Sabah recorded the highest number of whale stranding cases as well as whale sightings compared to other states since the 1970s.

Additionally, Sabah also has the longest coastline in Malaysia. It is surrounded by the South China Sea on the west, Sulu Sea on the northeast and Celebes Sea on the southeast regions.

There are many factors that could contribute to whale stranding such as natural causes due to sickness or old age or military sonar.

However, the reason for this statistic in Sabah is still not scientifically known.

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The gigantic skeleton of Bryde’s whale.

6 Reasons Why You Should Visit Mount Singai

If you have not visited Mount Singai before, now is the best time to do so. Due to our love of being outdoors, KajoMag has listed six reasons why it should be on everyone’s bucket list to visit.

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1. Close to town

Located in Bau District, Mount Singai takes only 30 to 40 minutes’ drive from Kuching City.

As it does not take a lot of time to reach there, you do not have to worry about getting up early or using a lot of gas.

2. Good spot for beginner’s training

If you are not particularly athletic but still want to be active, then Mount Singai is perfect for you.

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Mount Singai hiking area can be split into two sections. The first half is a set of stairs leading to the Catholic Memorial and Pilgrimage Centre (CMPC) while the second half is the hiking trail leading to the summit.

Typically, an average hiker can reach the pilgrimage centre within 20 to 30 minutes while the hiking ground can take about an hour to reach.

Visitors might find Mount Singai relaxing and enjoyable as the hiking terrain is not as hard and challenging as most hiking spots around Kuching.

Also, due to the steps and the inclining nature of Mount Singai, it is the best spot to pump up your cardio and enjoy nature.

3. Friendly hikers

On average, Mount Singai can have a few hundred visitors in one weekend.

And due to that, you will always bump into other fellow hikers along the way.

At Mount Singai, the hikers will typically greet you and some will even give words of encouragement  to reach the summit.

When meeting these friendly and supportive hikers of Mount Singai, it makes the hiking trip even more memorable.

4. Spiritual experience

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On your trek up to the retreat centre, you will notice there are monuments stationed along the way up.

They are the 14 stations of the Cross which represent Christ’s last day on earth as a man.

Mount Singai has long been a pilgrimage destination for devoted Catholics, with the earliest converts to Catholicism in the area among the Bisingai people dating as far back as 1885.

5. Help the community build their church

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Upon reaching the entrance point of Mount Singai, you may find a heap of bags containing pebbles and sand.

These are to build a new church hall at the pilgrimage centre.

As there are no access roads for vehicles leading towards the centre, the only way to bring these building materials up is on foot.

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While there are no entrance fees for Mount Singai, visitors can do their part for the kampong community by helping them carry the bags up to the construction site.

Consider it your personal Rocky or Shaolin monk challenge by carrying a bag up. You can also help trick your mind into thinking you have some extra weight to lose.

6. Instagrammable view

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Millennials with an active Instagram account would understand the novelty of having awesome pictures in their IG account.

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When you reach the top of the steps, Mount Singai offers a rest stop with one of the best viewing spots.

Apart from that, the summit also offers an equally breath-taking view for visitors to take picture.

15 Wildlife Photographers you should follow on Instagram

Wildlife photographers have the toughest job of capturing animal behaviour at the right moment to create a powerful image.

The job requires not just skill but also great patience and persistence.

Thankfully, wildlife photographers have taken to social media to share their images while also highlighting important conservation issues.

Here are some outstanding wildlife photographers who have shared their impactful photos with thought-provoking captions on Instagram:

1. Brian Skerry

Skerry is an 11-time award winner in the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. Hence, without a doubt all of his photos are breathtaking.

As you can see on his Instagram page, he specialises in marine wildlife and underwater environments.

Photo by @BrianSkerry Tomorrow, April 10th, I will be doing an Instagram Live event at 12pm EST. I will be at the headquarters of the @conservationlawfoundation and talking about the plight of the North Atlantic Right Whale – a species on the brink of extinction. I’ll be joining Dr. Scott Kraus with the @newenglandaquarium , a leading right whale researcher working on solutions to save this species. Please check out this event here on my Instagram feed! This photo shows a Southern Right Whale hovering inches above the sea floor in New Zealand’s sub-antarctic waters. About a million years ago there was once species of Right Whale on Earth. But as land masses moved and oceans became separated, the right whales became separated too. Both species were hunted to the brink of extinction by early whalers, but the Southern Right Whales recovered better following protection, because they live further away from industrialization. The North Atlantic Right Whales are urban animals and live from Canada’s Bay of Fundy to Florida. In these regions they become entangled in fishing gear and often die. They also get hit by ships. Last year (2017) 17 North Atlantic Right Whales were lost. Learn more about these amazing animals and how we can save them – here on my Instagram Live event on Tuesday at 12pm EST! #rightwhales #endangeredspecies #extinction #whales

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2. Frans Lanting

Thomas Kennedy, the former Director of Photography at National Geographic said Frans Lanting has the mind of a scientist, the heart of a hunter, and the eyes of a poet.

This is perhaps why Lanting is often hailed as one of the great wildlife photographers of our generation.
Scroll through his Instagram page and you will understand why Lanting deserves that recognition.

Photo by @FransLanting When cheetah cubs are two months old they are irresistible to watch. Siblings are sparring partners around the clock. But the odds against their survival are not as appealing. More than half of all cheetah cubs do not survive their first four weeks of life and most of the rest do not make it beyond their first year. Cheetahs can’t climb trees like leopards, they can’t dig burrows like hyenas, and they’re not social like lions, so they are always vulnerable no matter where they are. When we worked with cheetah families in the wild we were always concerned about their safety, yet we could not interfere in their individual lives. But we can contribute to their survival as a species. Follow us @FransLanting and @ChristineEckstrom to learn more about the plight of cheetahs. @Natgeocreative @Thephotosociety #Cheetah #BigCats #BigCatsInitiative #CheetahConservationFund #Panthera #Endangered #Cute #Play

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3. Thomas P. Peschak

Peschak was originally trained as a marine biologist before switching careers to become a wildlife photojournalist.

His current vocation is to highlight current marine conservation issues through his images.

On his Instagram page, he educates his followers on the amazing world of marine animals.

A recent scientific study revealed that filter feeding marine animals like whale sharks accidentally ingest considerable amounts of micro-plastics. At less than five mm in size, micro plastics are similar in dimension to a whale shark’s regular plankton meals. Unlike the plastic bag in this picture which was easy to spot, grab and stuff into my wetsuit, removing micro plastics from our oceans is much more difficult. At present the only real solution is preventing plastics from getting into ocean in the first place. I would love to hear from all of YOU about what you are currently doing to help decrease plastic pollution in our oceans. Thoughts, ideas and tips in the comments please. That way we can all learn from each other.

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4. Paul Nicklen

This Canadian photographer co-founded Sea Legacy, a non-profit society that utilises visual storytelling and photography to raise awareness of ocean conservation.

Even on his Instagram, each photo shared has a story to tell – like how he managed to capture this brown bear with a salmon in its mouth.

5. Ami Vitale

She has travelled to almost 100 countries over the past 18 years capturing wildlife and people.

But one of her most outstanding works was photos of Sudan, the last male Northern White Rhino who died on Mar 19, 2018.

Here is a photo of Sudan with one of the rangers Joseph Wachira.

Photo by @amivitale. If there is meaning in Sudan’s passing, it’s that all hope is not lost. This can be our wake-up call. In a world of more than 7 billion people, we must see ourselves as part of the landscape. Our fate is linked to the fate of animals Joseph Wachira, (@wachira.joseph) 26 comforts Sudan, the last living male Northern White Rhino left on this planet moments before he passed away March 19, 2018 in northern Kenya. Sudan lived a long, healthy life at the conservancy after he was brought to Kenya from @safari_park_dvur_kralove in the #Czechrepublic in 2009. He died surrounded by people who loved him at @olpejeta after suffering from age-related complications that led to degenerative changes in muscles and bones combined with extensive skin wounds. Sudan has been an inspirational figure for many across the world. Thousands have trooped to Ol Pejeta to see him and he has helped raise awareness for rhino conservation. The two female northern white rhinos left on the planet are his direct descendants. Research into new Assisted Reproductive Techniques for large mammals is underway due to him. The impact that this special animal has had on conservation is simply incredible. And there is still hope in the future that the subspecies might be restored through IVF. The image is copyrighted to Ami Vitale/2018. For licensing information, including in-line links and/or framing of this post, contact Ami Vitale. @olpejeta @nrt_kenya @lewa_wildlife @tusk_org @kenyawildlifeservice @thephotosociety @natgeo #LastManStanding #SudanForever #WorthMoreAlive #OlPejetaRhinos#NorthernWhiteRhinos #protectrhinos#DontLetThemDisappear #rhions#saverhinos #stoppoaching #kenya#northernkenya #africa #everydayafrica #photojournalism #amivitale @nikonusa #nikonusa #nikonlove

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6. Joel Sartore

In an effort to document every animal species before they disappear, Sartore founded the Photo Ark.

As of today, there are nearly 7,900 species recorded on Photo Ark and some of them are featured on Sartore’s Instagram.

Joel Sartore

7.Beverly Jourbert

This wonder woman is a filmmaker, photographer and co-founder of the Big Cats Initiative.

She has documented the beauty of African wildlife for more than 30 years.

Thankfully some of those beauties are shared through her Instagram.

Beverly Joubert

8.David Doubilet

He is a well-known underwater photographer. He also contributed more than 70 feature articles on the environment.

Though Doubilet hardly updates his Instagram, every photo he has shared so far is surreal and almost dream-like.

David Doubilet

9. Andy Mann

Andy Mann is a climber, diver and arctic explorer. He also co-founded 3 Strings Production, a commercial and documentary film studio.

Andy Mann

10.Steve Winter

He was named BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year and BBC Wildlife Photojournalist of the Year.

You can also count on Winter’s captions to educate you a little bit more about wildlife and the environment.

Steve Winter

11.Andrew Parkinson

Browse through his Instagram feed and you notice that his photos are so alive that they almost come off the screen.

This award-winning photographer managed to capture animals on motion in a perfect composition, making his images fascinating to look at.

Andrew Parkinson

12.Tim Laman

A photographer and an ornithologist, you can expect most of Laman’s photos to revolve around birds.

Tim Laman

13.Ronan Donovan

Do you know how elephants hug? Apparently they hug by wrapping their trunks around each other, much like people do.

With Donovan’s short yet informative captions on top of his powerful images, browsing through his Instagram feed is time well spent.

ronan donovan

14.Chris Schmid

Schmid once said, “Sometimes you need to take a risk by spending all afternoon waiting for that great picture, and you may miss some decent images somewhere else, but its all part of the game in wildlife photography.”

You will find some of those great pictures on his Instagram.

Chris Shmid


15.Cristina Mittermeier

She was recognised as one of the World’s top 40 Most Influential Outdoor Photographers by Outdoor Magazine.

Her works are definitely deserving of that recognition as you can see by these photos on her Instagram.

Cristina Mittermeier

Top 8 Penan Handwoven Items That Everyone Should Have

In Sarawak, it is normal for one person to own at least one traditional item that is used as an everyday thing.

Whether it is a hand-woven mat or a basket, traditional items aren’t just decorative, they’re also practical.

For the love of traditional indigenous items, KajoMag has compiled top 8 traditional Penan handcrafted items discovered at the the 2017 edition of the Non Timber Forest Product (NTFP) festival which are still practical for modern day use.

1. Kitong

Penan Item 1: Kitong
Penan Item 1: Kitong

Purpose: The kitong is a rattan basket used traditionally by the Penans to store apu nangah (sago flour) or cooking utensils.

Alternative: While the kitong can still be used to store flour, rice and cooking utensils, it can also be used to store everyday items such as nail polish, canned food items or even as a key holder

2. Bukul

Penan Item 2: Bukul
Penan Item 2: Bukul

Purpose: A traditional Penan backpack made from rattan, it was commonly used to carry plants and herbs they gathered in the jungle . The betik, which is the motif on the rattan bag, depicts patterns inspired by the jungle such as plant vines and bird’s eyes.

Alternative: Imagine using this effortlessly stylish backpack for your books as you walk around campus.

3. Berat Sakin

Penan Item 3: Coaster
Penan Item 3:  Berat Sakin

Purpose: Coaster. Surprised?

Alternative: Still relevant, looks chic and stylish in any setting.

4. Sekepit

Penan Item 4: Sekepit
Penan Item 4: Sekepit

Purpose: A small pouch used by the Penans to store small items like tobacco cigarettes when hunting in the forest

Alternative:  A cool yet practical to carry your power bank and smart phone.

5. Mak

Penan Item 5: Mak
Penan Item 5: Mak

Purpose: Rattan mats

Alternative: A convenient size and practical to be used as a mat or a table runner. Place a piece of glass over it and you have an interesting focal piece.

6. Pihan

Penan Item 6: Pihan
Penan Item 6: Pihan

Purpose: A Penan’s rattan bag

Alternative: Consider swapping your H&M bag for this as your staple everyday handbag

7. Basah

Purpose: A western Penan rattan bracelet. Most of the basah salak motifs are patterns inspired by snake skin. To give the rattan its shiny colour, natural dye is used.

Alternative: Great gifts if you have a lot of friends

8. Tabit

Penan Item 8: Tabit
Penan Item 8: Tabit

Purpose: The tabit is a Penan traditional garment made from rattan. It is worn around the waist over a loincloth to protect the wearer from sitting on thorns or other sharp objects when they sit on the forest floor.

Alternative: Frame it and put up as decoration. It’ll make an interesting conversation topic when people come to visit.

To know more about NTFP, click here to check out their website.

The story of Marianne North through the eyes of Ranee Margaret

While North America had the Klondike Gold Rush in the late 1800s, other people in the Victorian era were rushing to satisfy a scientific obsession – collecting natural specimens.

This obsession for new discoveries and adventure brought many collectors and explorers to Borneo’s door, including notable botanical artist Marianne North.

A life of travel

North was born in Hastings, England on Oct 24, 1830. Her father Frederick North was a member of parliament for Hastings and a deputy lieutenant as well as a Justice of the Peace.

After her mother Janet died in 1855, North travelled frequently with her father and sister. They visited Switzerland, Austria, Spain, Italy, Greece and the Bosporus in Turkey.

She received her first lessons in oil painting from renowned Australian colonial artist Robert Hawker Dowling in 1867.

She had been painting throughout her life, starting with flower painting to cope with the grief after her mother’s death and again after her father’s death in 1869.

With a large inheritance North received, she started to travel from 1871 to 1885. She visited 17 countries, painting 800 illustrations of their native plants and flowers.

And she did all of this while travelling alone, reportedly in Victorian dress.

Thanks to her influential family, North was able to visit countries all over the world and was welcomed by their respective ambassadors, ministers and governors.

One of those government administrators who hosted her was Sarawak’s second White Rajah, Charles Brooke.

Marianne North’s visit to Sarawak

A visitor looking at a portrait of Ranee Margaret on display at The Brooke Gallery at Fort Margherita.

When she arrived in Sarawak in 1876, Charles was not in town to welcome her visit.  His wife, Ranee Margaret stepped in to host this Victorian painter instead.

The Ranee wrote about her guest in “My Life in Sarawak”.

“One morning, as I was watching the arrival of the mail-steamer from my verandah at Kuching, I noticed the figure of a tall European lady standing on deck.

“A few moments after, a messenger brought me a letter from Singapore from the Governor’s wife, Lady Jervois, introducing a traveller to Sarawak, whose name was Marianne North.”

“The first evening of her stay in Kuching we went for a row on the river, and the sunset behind Matang was, as she said, a revelation. That land of forests, mountains, and water, the wonderful effects of sunshine and cloud, the sudden storms, the soft mists at evening, the perfumed air brought through miles and miles of frost by the night breezes, were an endless source of delight to her.”

Her views on the Dayaks

Despite being extensively travelled, North had a strong opinion of the Dayaks who were still practicing head-hunting at the time.

Margaret wrote:

“(Marianne North) could not bear the thought of either Dyaks or Kayans. I could never eradicate from her mind the idea that they were savages. I used to try and interest her in these people, for I longed that she should accompany us in our journeys into the interior, but this she would never do.
“’Don’t talk to me of savages,’she would say; ‘I hate them.’ ‘But they are not savages,’ I would reply, ‘They are just like we are, only circumstances have made them different.’
‘They take heads; that is enough for me’, she would add severely.”

How Marianne North influenced the Ranee

North stayed with the Brookes for about six weeks.

During her short stay with the Ranee, North managed to open her eyes more to the beauty of Sarawak’s biodiversity.

Margaret stated, “… I felt that something new and delightful had come into my life, for she had not only introduced me to pitcher-plants, but to orchids, palms, ferns, and many other things of whose existence I had never dreamed. Miss North was the one person who made me realise the beauties of the world. She was noble, intelligent, and kind, and her friendship and the time we spent, together are amongst my happiest memories.”

The story of Nepenthes northiana

Marianne North
A copy of Marianne North’s Nepenthes northiana displayed at the Brooke Gallery at Fort Margherita.

Nepenthes northiana is an endemic pitcher plant found in Borneo. The species was named after North who was the first one to illustrate the species.

During her stay, North made friends with Herbert Everett who was working for the Borneo Company then.

Everett went up to the mountainous area in Bau to get her this plant.

North wrote about the discovery for The Gardeners’ Chronicle:

“The specimens grew on the branches of a tree about 1000 feet above the sea on the limestone mountains of Sarawak. When I received them I tied them in festoons all around the verandah, and grumbled at having only one small half-sheet of paper left to paint them on.”

Regardless of the size of the painting, thanks to North’s illustration, Sarawak became known as a land of exotic plants in the late 19th century.

The painting of Nepenthes northiana is now on display at the Marianne North Gallery at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Read more:

Charles Hose and his love affair with Sarawak