Browse Tag


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.

900px Lusius malfoyi lateral
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.”

5 things you need to know about the black orchid

The black orchid (Coelogyne pandurata) is such a unique plant that it is the official mascot for East Kalimantan province.

Also known as anggrek hitam in the Indonesian language, this orchid can be found in all three countries on Borneo; Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei.

Unlike popular belief, it is not endemic to Borneo. It is also found in Sumatra, Peninsular Malaysia and the Philippines.

The orchid is an epiphyte found on large trees located usually near rivers.

Here are five things you need to know about the black orchid:
Black Orchid 2
Coelogyne pandurata
1.It is called black orchid but it is not entirely black

According to the book Orchids of Sarawak, stories of a mysterious black orchid from deepest Borneo has been told for years and people ask if such a plant really exists.

So you can only see the black coloured part of the flower for a short period of time because it blooms only five to six days.

“Although the flowers are predominantly a most striking lime-green, large areas of the lip are stained with a truly black pigment as though black ink had been splashed upon it.”

If you smell it closely, the bloom emits a honey-like fragrance.

2.It is first described by John Lindley way back in 1853

The flower might be rare to see, especially in bloom, but it is not new. English botanist John Lindley (1799-1865) was the first one to have described the black orchid, publishing about it in the Gardener’s Chronicle in 1853.

He wrote, “We are indebted for this striking species to Mr Loddiges, who informs us that it was imported from Borneo by Mr Low. The lip, although really oblong, yet in consequence of the manner in which the sides are bent down, has much the form of a violin.”

However, Lindley never commented about the black markings on the orchid.

3. Its alleged medicinal purposes

In some parts of rural Kalimantan, the black orchid is boiled and used as herbal medicines.

The flower is believed to have many medicinal purposes including for heartburn, diarrhea, stomach ulcers and even tuberculosis.

However, none of these have been scientifically proven.

Black Orchid
The mascot of East Kalimantan province.
4.The myth behind the black orchid

While some believed that it can be a cure for various diseases, it is also believed that the flower can be a curse.

Legend in Indonesia has it that anyone who is in possession of the black orchid or even attempts to culture it will obtain bad luck.

Perhaps the myth spread to prevent people from harvesting the flower and subsequently reducing its population in the wild.

5.Some of the environmental threats against the black orchid

Speaking of its population, according to World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Indonesia, some of the threats this orchid faces are forest burning and land clearing due to agriculture activities.

Since this plant is an epiphyte relying on large trees to grow, loss of jungle could immediately affect the population of black orchid.

Here in Sarawak, all orchids are listed as ‘protected plants’ under the Wildlife Protection Ordinance 1998.

According to the law: “Any person who collects, cultivates, cuts, trims, removes, burns, poisons, in any way injures, sells, offers for sale, imports, exports or is in possession of any protected plant or any recognizable part or derivative thereof, except under and in accordance with the terms and conditions of a licence issued under this Ordinance, shall be guilty of an offence: Penalty, imprisonment for one year and a fine of RM10,000.”

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.

DSC 0030
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)
678px HemigaleHoseiSmit
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.

686px OriolusHosiiKeulemans
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.

rhinoceros 1801311 1280 1
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.”

Saying hello to the proboscis monkey in Tarakan’s Bekantan and Mangrove Conservation Park

While we call it’ ‘monyet belanda’ in Malaysia, in Indonesia it is called ‘bekantan’. The proboscis monkey (Nasalis larvatus) is endemic to Borneo and can be found in all three countries on the island.

But it can also be found on the island of Tarakan, in the eastern part of Borneo in North Kalimantan province of Indonesia.  

Here visitors can see them at the Bekantan and Mangrove Conservation Park, about 1km from the city center of Tarakan.

The Bekantan and Mangrove Conservation Park

The park is a conservation effort led by Tarakan city’s local government. In the beginning, the area only spanned three hectares, now it has increased to 22 hectares.

It was officially opened on June 5, 2003. Besides a conservation place for proboscis monkeys, it also served as the green lung for Tarakan city.

At first there were only two proboscis monkeys living in the park, now they have about 35 individuals.

Over the years, these proboscis monkeys have become used to human visitors, so it is easier to spot them and catch them on camera.

Plus, their reddish brown fur and unusually large noses make them easier to spot among the mangrove trees.

The best times to visit the Bekantan and Mangrove Conservation Park are between 11am to 2pm. This is because these are the extra feeding times for these bekantan.

Being seasonal eaters, these animals eat mostly fruit from January to May and leaves, especially mangrove leaves during June to December.

But the park rangers still feed them fruit with extra nutrients like bananas.

What to bring to the park

Visitors can walk around the park along its walkways that make it convenient to bring young families around.

Besides proboscis monkeys, visitors can also watch out for other animals such as crabs, birds, monitor lizards, squirrels, and mud fish. During high tide, you might even spot see snakes swimming through these mangrove roots.

Since the park is located near the city, visitors cannot escape from urban noise pollution, especially with noises coming in from a nearby school.

But with plenty of mangrove trees around, it is still a good place to see some greenery.

Although you can take photos of proboscis monkeys from a distance of 5m, it is still best to bring long-focus lenses to take their photographs.

Be respectful toward these animals and do not provoke them. Ever.

In Indonesia, proboscis monkeys are protected by Law Number 5 of 1990, Article 21, paragraph 2, which states that it is prohibited from capturing, injuring, killing, storing, possessing, maintaining, transporting and trading protected animals in living conditions. Anyone who intentionally violates the provisions of Article 21 paragraph 2 can be punished with a maximum imprisonment of 5 years and a maximum fine of Rp100 million (about RM28,000 or USD 7,000).

Besides Bekantan and Mangrove Conservation Park, proboscis monkeys can also be found in 16 protected areas in Indonesia.

These include Danau Sentarum National Park, Gunung Palung National Park, Kendawangan Nature Reserve, Kutai National Park, Lesan Protection Forest, Muara Kama Nature Reserve, Mandor Reserve and Tanjung Puting National Park.

What Sarawak nature looked like in the 19th century according to Harriette McDougall

Harriette McDougall was the wife of Francis Thomas McDougall, the first Anglican Bishop of Labuan and Sarawak from 1849 to 1868.

They first arrived in Sarawak on June 29, 1848 then subsequently established a medical mission as well as a home school here.

The couple spent the next 20 years -on and off- in the Kingdom, visiting various areas in Sarawak.

In 1888, Harriette published ‘Sketches of Our Life at Sarawak’, a book sharing her experience while staying in Borneo.

While some of her accounts were controversial, arguable and biased; she cited the deaths of the Great Kayan Expedition as “their own fault” and stated Islam as “not a faith which teaches mercy or respects life”, Harriette did give descriptions of Sarawak nature during the mid-19th century that would be important for historians or ecologists today.

They not only gave glimpses of how the state appeared back then, but how much has changed in term of biodiversity:

Here are some of the places Harriette described in her book ‘Sketches of Our Life at Sarawak’:
1.Buntal Bay
Buntal Esplanade 3
Welcome to Buntal Esplanade!

Over recent years, scientists identified Bako Buntal Bay as the wandering site for at least 27 migratory bird species in their annual migration between Southeast Asia and Australasia.

However, can you imagine that the number of bird species could be more during the mid 19th century?

According to Harriette, there was no settlement at Buntal bay when they occasionally visited the area.

Harriette wrote, “As the tide ebbed the birds arrived–tall storks, fishing eagles, gulls, curlew, plover, godwits, and many others we did not know. They flew in long lines, till they seemed to vanish and reappear, circling round and round, then swooping down upon the sand where the receding waves were leaving their supper. I never saw a prettier sight. The tall storks seemed to act like sentinels, watching while the others fed.”

She continued, “And there are many such spots in Borneo where no human foot ever trod, and where trees, flowers, and insects flourish exceedingly; where the birds sing songs of praise which are only heard by their Maker, and where the wild animals of the forest live and die unmolested. There is always something delightful to me in this idea. We are apt to think that this earth is made for man, but, after many ages, there are still some parts of his domain unconquered, some fair lands where the axe, the fire, and the plough arc still unknown.”

2.Muara Tebas
Muara Tebas Temple 4
The view of Muara Tebas.

When Harriette and her companions needed to enter Sarawak, they used the Muara Tebas route.

Along this route, she took in the view of villages and environment along the river banks.

Though Harriette mistook crocodiles for alligators, she did describe how the mangrove forests came alive with glittering fireflies during the night.

During this 21st century, one can only imagine how beautiful that sight was.

“The river winds continually, and every new reach had its interest: a village of palm-leaf houses built close to the water, women and children standing on the steps with their long bamboo jars, or peeping out of the slits of windows at the schooner; boats of all sizes near the houses, fishing-nets hanging up to dry, wicked alligators lying basking on the mud; trees of many varieties–the nibong palm which furnishes the posts of the houses, the nipa which makes their mat walls, and close by the water the light and graceful mangroves, which at night arc all alive and glittering with fire-flies. On the boughs of some larger trees hanging over the stream, parties of monkeys might be seen eating the fruits, chattering, jumping, flying almost, from bough to bough.”

3.Batang Rajang

When Harriette arrived at Batang Rajang, she described it as a glorious river saying “It is not visited by a bore, and eighty miles from the sea it is half a mile broad, and deep to the banks.”

She also had high praises for the flowers in Borneo.

Harriette wrote, “They seldom grow on the ground, though you may sometimes come upon a huge bed of ground orchids, but mostly climb up the trees, and hang in festoons from the branches. One plant, the Ixora, for instance, propagating itself undisturbed, will become a garden itself, trailing its red or orange blossoms from bough to bough till the forest glows with colour.

The Rhododendron, growing in the forks of the great branches, takes possession of the tall trees, making them blush all over with delicate pinks and lilacs, or deepest rose clusters. Then the orchideous plants fix themselves in the branches, and send out long sprays of blossom of many colours and sweetest perfume.”

At the Rajang river, Harriette also paid attention to the sounds or birds.

According to her there were not many singing birds in Borneo but she did notice the curious creaking noise made by the wings of Rhinoceros hornbills as they fly past.

(We bet Sarawakians nowadays may not be aware of how hornbills’ wings sound.)

Regardless, the biggest noisemaker of the Borneon jungle was none other than the gibbons or as Harriette called them, the Wawa monkey.

Here is how she lengthily described the sounds of gibbons:

“More musical is the voice of the Wawa monkey, a bubbling like water running out of a narrow-necked bottle, always to be heard at early dawn, and the sweetest of alarums. A dead stillness reigns in the jungle by day, but at sunset every leaf almost becomes instinct with life. You might almost fancy yourself beset by Gideon’s army, when all the lamps in the pitchers rattled and broke, and every man blew his trumpet into your ear. It is an astounding noise certainly, and difficult to believe that so many pipes and rattles, whirring machines and trumpets, belong to good-sized beetles or flies, singing their evening song to the setting sun. As the light dies away all becomes still again, unless any marshy ground shelters frogs. But to hear all this you must go to the old jungle, where the tall trees stand near together and shut out the light of day, and almost the air, for there is a painful sense of suffocation in the dense wood.”

Animals that have gone extinct from Niah Cave, Miri

While 40,000-year-old human remains and rock art might be the highlights of Niah’s archaeological site, many tend to overlook the cave’s prehistoric fauna.

When archaeologists dug up the site, they found more than just pottery. They also found bones attributed to remains of food as well as charcoal from the fires they used to prepare the food.

Based on findings by Tom Harrisson, Dirk Albert Hooijer, Lord Medway (now the 5th Earl of Cranbrook) and Gustav Heinrich Ralph von Koeningswald, they found bones of animals that no longer exist.

Here the animals that have gone extinct from Niah Cave:
1.Tapir (Tapirus indicus)

The tapir has not only gone extinct in Niah Cave but from the whole of Borneo island.

A compilation of specimens from cave excavations in both Sabah and Sarawak reported that Malay tapirs once occurred in northern Borneo. They were roaming around this part of the island from the late Upper Pleistocene, ca. 45,000 years ago through Holocene to near recent dates.

The reasons that they are no longer found here are due to climate change during the post-Pleistocene era, together with restoration of the humid tropical rainforest environment which would have reduced the extent of available habitat favourable to the species.

According to research, it is possible that the final disappearance of the tapir from the island was a recent phenomenon, perhaps occurring over the last 500 years.

Now, they are found mostly throughout the tropical lowland rainforest of Southeast Asia, including Peninsular Malaysia, Indonesia, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar.

malayan tapir 1734462 1280
2. Asian giant pangolin (Manis paleojavanica)

Recently, pangolins have made headlines for being the most trafficked mammal. Sadly, their ancestor species were most probably extinct due to humans too. The giant pangolin was 2.5 times the size of the Sunda pangolin.

Lord Medway excavated bones of the Asian giant pangolin at the Niah Cave and then Hooijer identified it in 1960.

They found that it was similar to the extinct giant pangolin in Java island.

Furthermore, carbon dating suggests that the Niah bones are about 42,000 -47,000 years old. This coincides with the presence of humans in Borneo.

Researchers believed this was the first Borneo mammal to become extinct after the arrival of humans.

Species that are extinct from Niah Cave, but not from Borneo

Apart from these, archaeologists have also found bones of other animals which no longer can be found in Niah Cave. But they can still be found in other parts of Borneo.

These include the bearded pig (Sus sp.), orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus), banteng (Bos Javanicus) and clouded leopard (Felis nebulosa).

The oldest orangutan teeth found in Niah Cave are larger than those of the biggest animals living today. These animals were possibly larger…but it is possible that maybe it was only their teeth that were larger.

Semenggoh 3
Seduku the Orangutan enjoying her banana while hanging from a tree at Semenggoh Nature Reserve.

Meanwhile, it is undetermined if the bearded pig we have today is the same species as its ancestors.

Just like the orangutan, the bones and teeth of the prehistoric pig are very much larger than the present-day Borneo bearded pigs.

In National Parks of Sarawak, Hans P. Hazebroek and Abang Kashim Abang Morshidi suggested the smaller body size of the animals is a trend during the latest stage of evolution of the Bornean fauna.

“This trend is possibly related to changes in the environment, from the more seasonal forests of the Pleistocene to today’s rainforests.”

However looking at the extinction of the tapir in Borneo and its presence in other regions, as well as the complete extinction of Asian giant pangolin, there might be unknown factors also influencing this stage of evolution.

10 interesting things to know about Balikpapan, Indonesia

Located on the east coast of Borneo island, Balikpapan is the industrial, commercial and financial center of Kalimantan.

It is the second most populous city in the East Kalimantan province of Indonesia, after Samarinda.

If you want to know more about this city, here are ten things to know about Balikpapan, especially on its unique history:
balikpapan 190894 1280 1
Water fountain at Bakapai Garden, Balikpapan. Credit: Pixabay.
1.The various stories behind its unique name

Those who understand Indonesian Malay might find the name ‘Balikpapan’ unique. ‘Balik’ means ‘behind’ while ‘papan’ is wooden plank.

Legend has it a king who was afraid of his daughter falling into enemy hands had bound her to several planks and sent her out to sea. Waves came and hit the planks, turning the daughter – who was still a toddler at the time – over. When the planks washed ashore, a fisherman found the daughter still bound to the board. The area where she was found was called Balikpapan.

Another theory is that the Kutai sultanate’s Sultan Muhammad Idris sent 1,000 planks to help the Paser kingdom build a new palace. They shipped the planks from Kutai to Paser through Borneo shorelines. Out of the 1,000 planks, 10 was washed away and resurfaced at a site which is now called Balikpapan.

The last theory is that it was named after a couple. Kayun Kuleng and Papan Ayun were the ancestors of Pasir Balik tribe, a native people of Balikpapan. The area that they lived is called ‘Kuleng-Papan’ and “Kuleng” means “Balik” in Paser language.

2. The city was part of an old kingdom called Kutai Kartanegara Sultanate

Before the late 19th century, Balikpapan was just a group of Bugis fishing villages which was part of the Kutai Kartanegara Sultanate.

Then in 1844, the Dutch came and defeated Kutai’s ruler Sultan Aji Muhammad Salehuddin. The event forced the sultan into exile, allowing the Dutch to take control of the whole sultanate including Balikpapan.

3.The booming oil industry in Balikpapan under Dutch Rule.

The first oil drilling in the city began on Feb 10, 1897 and the oil well which was called “Mathilda” has been commemorated by its very own monument. The date was set as Balikpapan ‘s anniversary.

Then in 1907, Bataafsche Petroleum Maatschappij (BPM), a subsidiary of the Royal Dutch Shell oil company made the city its headquarters. This caused many skilled workers and engineers from overseas to work there, resulting in the blooming of the economy.

More roads, warehouses, offices and bungalows were built in Balikpapan during this period.

4.The Japanese targeted Balikpapan during World War II due to its oil industry.

When the Japanese planned their offence during World War II, their main focus was usually on any city which had an oil industry, such as Miri (Sarawak) and Tarakan (Indonesia).

After they captured the oilfield at Tarakan from the Allies, they found that it was already destroyed.

So the Japanese force headed to Balikpapan in the hope that the oilfields had not been destroyed.

Knowing this, the Dutch commander Lieutenant Colonel Cornelis van den Hoogenband ordered the oilfield in Balikpapan destroyed, evacuating his staff to Samarinda on Jan 18, 1942.

When the Japanese finally landed in Balikpapan four days later, they were met with about 1,100 troops of the Dutch army.

However, this number was easily defeated by the Japanese who came with 5,500 infantry and 1,100 naval infantry.

5.In 1945, Balikpapan served as the site of the last major ground operation of World War II.

From July 1-21, 1945, Allied Forces from Australia, the United States of America, Netherlands and United Kingdom started a series of heavy bombing and shelling on Balikpapan.

This battle was one of the last to occur during WWII before the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki which effectively ended the war.

6.CIA once air raided the city back in the 1950s
Balikpapan 5
The coastline of Balikpapan has seen so many battles over the past century.

Although WWII ended in 1945, Balikpapan saw another battle in 1958. The US ran a CIA covert mission to undermine President Sukarno’s government by supporting right-wing rebels in Indonesia.

In 1958, the CIA then attacked Balikpapan and stopped oil exports in the area. This was to weaken the country’s economy.

The Balikpapan air raid subsequently caused Shell to suspend tanker services from Balikpapan.

To fight back, the Indonesian naval and air forces shot down a plane and captured its CIA pilot causing the Americans to withdraw their support of the right-wing groups.

7. The unique multi-cultural society of the city

Looking at East Kalimantan’s overall population, the most populous ethnic group in the province is the Javanese. Coming in second is the Bugis who live in coastal and urban areas. Meanwhile, the third largest ethnicity is the Banjar who live mostly in the city of Samarinda and Balikpapan.

Although the Dayak is only the fourth largest group, their cultural heritage, such as costumes and handicrafts, are widely displayed in Balikpapan in places like shopping malls and airport.

8.It is among most liveable cities in Indonesia

Thanks to its well-maintained facilities and environmental wellbeing, Balikpapan was voted the best city for living in 2013. It was also voted as the Most Loveable City for 2015.

9.The city’s mascot is the sunbear

The city is home to orangutan, sunbear, deer, proboscis monkey, gibbon, pangolin and plenty of endemic birds.

Of these animals, the sun bear was picked as Balikpapan’s mascot. Unfortunately, the population of sunbears in the area is maybe 50 or less.

Balikpapan 9
Orangutan can be found in the forests near the city particularly at Wain River Protected Forest.
10.It offers plenty of tourist attractions

Being a seaport city, Balikpapan has many beaches including Manggar Beach, Segara Beach Monument Beach and Kemala Beach.

Other tourist attractions include Wain River Protected Forest, a crocodile farm called Teritip and Bukit Bangkirai rainforest.

For Sarawakians, the city is just two flights away from Kuching. Visitors can fly from Kuching to Pontianak and then take another flight to Balikpapan.

The city’s airport.

20 things to do during the Heart of Borneo Highlands Eco Challenge III


For those who dream of an authentic adventure through Borneo, the Heart of Borneo Highlands Eco Challenge III will take you on a truly unique adventure where you can relive history, experience culture firsthand and appreciate the stewardship of nature .

Organised by the Alliance of the Indigenous Peoples of the Highlands of Borneo or Formadat, this year the event will be happening from June 27 till July 10.

Overall, there are seven packages for participants to choose from, ranging from moderate to strenuous level.

For five days to two weeks, participants will roam the jungles of the Borneo highlands in a cross-border adventure that will take you to Long Semadoh (Sarawak), Long Pasia (Sabah), Ba Kelalan (Sarawak), Bario (Sarawak) and South Krayan (Indonesia) and Krayan Induk (Indonesia).

Heart of Borneo Highlands Eco Challenge III 2
A view of the hilly landscape and paddy farms from a plane.

The event is limited to 50 participants only. Each stage of the Eco Challenge comes with activities that take participants on a journey in the footsteps of the ancestors of the highland peoples.

During a trip organised by WWF-Indonesia to the Krayan Highlands (Apr 2-5), KajoMag and several other media practitioners from Indonesia had the opportunity to experience some of these Eco Challenge activities.

So here are 20 things to do when you join the two-week long Heart Of Borneo Highlands Eco Challenge III:
1.Come and appreciate the beauty of Heart of Borneo highlands’ biodiversity
Heart of Borneo Highlands Eco Challenge III 12
Pitcher plants are commonly found at these central Borneo regions.

Heart of Borneo Highlands Eco Challenge III will take participants through the Maligan, Kelabit and Krayan Highlands.

These highlands offer unique flora and fauna as they stand about more than 760m above sea level.

Though divided by political boundaries, the Heart of Borneo Highlands share the same beautiful landscape and biodiversity.

From pitcher plants, orchids to other various vegetation forest, hiking through the highlands is definitely different from passing through hot and humid Borneo lowlands.

Heart of Borneo Highlands Eco Challenge III 14
Locally known as Anggerik Hitam (black orchid), this plant is also found in Sumatera and Borneo.
2.Experience the culture of indigenous people living in the Heart of Borneo Highlands
Heart of Borneo Highlands Eco Challenge III 4
Experience the rich culture of Lun Bawang and Lundayeh people of Borneo Highlands.

The Heart of Borneo Highlands are home to the indigenous Lun Bawang people in Sarawak, or Lundayeh as they are called in neighbouring state of Sabah and Krayan highland in Kalimantan, Indonesia.

Besides them, the Kelabit and Sa’ban people have also been living in the highlands for centuries.

In the Ba Kelalan highlands for example, there is a population of around 1,030 people, with the majority being Lun Bawang.

Meanwhile located 1,110m above sea level in the Kelabit Highlands, the majority of the 1,200 people who call the place home are the Kelabit people.

Coming down to the Kalimantan side of South Krayan, there are about 2,400 people of the Lundayeh and Sa’ban with a small of group people.

Over the course of Heart Of Borneo Highlands Eco Challenge III, participants will have the opportunity to visit some the villages of these indigenous people.

3.Take a thing or two about the traditional knowledge of the local people
Heart of Borneo Highlands Eco Challenge III 18
Harvested dried ant nest.

Speaking of indigenous people, the Eco Challenge will give participants the opportunities to learn more about them and their heritage.

Heart of Borneo Highlands Eco Challenge III 17
A hot glass of ant nest tea.

Hence, take this chance to learn about their traditional knowledge, especially in medicine. For instance, did you know that you could make tea out of dried ants’ nest? This happens to be a particular delicacy among some of the Lundayeh people in Krayan, and it is believed that this tea can lower blood pressure and be beneficial to your heart.

Heart of Borneo Highlands Eco Challenge III 16
The traditional method of boiling ant nest.
4.Enjoy the local fruits and vegetables
Heart of Borneo Highlands Eco Challenge III 8
Tarap or terap ( Artocarpus odoratissimus ).

There’s a saying: “Only lazy people go hungry in the jungle”, showing how important the jungle is as a source of food.

The Borneo Highlands are like free grocery shops that Mother Nature offers for the local people.

By 4 o’clock in the afternoon, you can see some of the women with their traditional woven baskets at their backs looking for wild ferns and vegetables to make dinner.

Heart Of Borneo Highlands Eco Challenge III gives participants the perfect opportunity to enjoy the local fruits such as tarap and wild ferns such as sayur pakis fresh from its source.

Heart of Borneo Highlands Eco Challenge III 11
Ellias showing how you can eat one of the edible orchids.
5.Listen to the local legends
Heart of Borneo Highlands Eco Challenge III
A hill in Krayan which was named after Yuvai Semaring. Legend has it Yuvai watched out for his enemies from the top of this hill.

Although the Lun Bawang/ Lundayeh people are separated by international borders, they still share the same roots, including legends.

It doesn’t matter if you are on the Malaysian side or Indonesian side, each has its own legend of Upai Semaring (spelled Yuvai Semaring in Indonesia).

Believed to be as tall as a giant, this local legendary hero has traces all over the Heart of Borneo Highlands.

The local Lun Bawang and Lundayeh people believed he was their protector defending them from their enemies, especially headhunters from other communities.

6.Visit ancestral burial grounds
Heart of Borneo Highlands Eco Challenge III 20
One of the ancient burial grounds at Terang Baru.

Besides local legends, the Lun Bawang and Lundayeh peoples also shared similar ancestral burial rituals.

Hence, you can find ancient burial grounds in both countries. Nobody is 100% certain who some these tombs belonged to, but everyone is sure they belonged to important figures in their communities.

One of the stages of the Eco Challenge is to visit an old burial site called ‘Lengutan Anak Adi’ to see the ancient remnants of skeletons and broken jars.

This is because like most ancient communities in Borneo, jars were important as a a secondary burial tool in sending off their dead.

7.Take a look at the rock art of Heart of Borneo Highlands

Another important archaeological site included in the Heart Of Borneo Highlands Eco Challenge III is an ancient stone carving site by the legendary giant Upai Semaring.

Although there are similar carving sites found in the Krayan Highlands, the one included as part of this Eco Challenge itinerary is the one found in Ba Kelalan.

Heart of Borneo Highlands Eco Challenge III 6
A stone carving made by Upai Semaring in Long Midang.
8.Have a taste of the local cuisine

Since participants will have the chance to stay at homestays together with the local people, it serve as a great chance for them to have a taste of local cooking.

Heart of Borneo Highlands Eco Challenge III 9
The brown rice of Krayan highlands.

If you had the chance, give biter (vegetable porridge) or any of their traditional cakes a try. They are definitely a new gastronomic experience!

Heart of Borneo Highlands Eco Challenge III 10
Biter, a traditional cuisine of Lundayeh people made from rice and vegetables.
Heart of Borneo Highlands Eco Challenge III 5
A variety of Lundayeh cakes.
9.Enjoy the beautiful scenery of paddy farms

While half of the beauty of Borneo Highlands landscape comes from the misty highlands, another half comes from its vast paddy farms.

This scenery is something one should experience on your own to appreciate its serene beauty.

Heart of Borneo Highlands Eco Challenge III 21
10.Learn about how mountain salt is processed
Heart of Borneo Highlands Eco Challenge III 13
Salt processing at Long Midang.

Have you ever wondered how people living miles from the sea such as the Kelabit and Krayan Highlands get their salt from in ancient times?

All thanks to Mother Nature, these people did not rely on trade to buy salt to season their food.

There are salt springs spread out in several locations all over the highlands. The communities then came together to process them for personal consumption as well as to sell as an extra source of income.

Though there are several villages had its own salt processing house, the participants will visit the one in Long Midang near Indonesia-Malaysia border.

11.Watch how the local people make soap

Again, have you wondered how the olden communities washed themselves? During this Heart Of Borneo Highlands Eco Challenge III, participants will have a chance to make a quick stop at a local soap production site.

There, the locals use Tenem tree essential oil extracts to make natural soap.

12.Pick up an indigenous musical instrument or two
Heart of Borneo Highlands Eco Challenge III 7
Ellias Yesaya, Head of The Cultural Field School playing bamboo flute.

A visit to the Krayan Highland during this Heart Of Borneo Highlands Eco Challenge III would not be complete without a visit to the Cultural Field School, Terang Baru.

It is a space for cultural celebrations and to learn traditional music and dances.

From string instruments to traditional percussion, the school gives its visitors a rare opportunity to learn the musical heritage of Lundayeh people.

Heart of Borneo Highlands Eco Challenge III 19
The Cultural Field School
13.Say a prayer at Prayer Mountain

While taking a tour around Bario Valley, visitors will have the opportunity to trek to the top of Prayer Mountain.

During Bario Valley stage, visitors will also have a chance to visit the oldest longhouse settlement in Bario as well as the biggest green energy farm in Sarawak.

14.Learn a thing or two about World War II history in the area
Heart of Borneo Highlands Eco Challenge III 3
Local guide Alex Ballang pointing out the helipads built by the allied forces during WWII.

Unknown to most people, both Kelabit and Krayan highlands played an important role during the Second World War against the Japanese.

Talk to the local guides or villagers, some might still have stories which part of the highlands were used as helipads for allied forces and how Tom Harrisson and several Z Special Unit operatives parachuted onto the plateau.

15.Enjoy the beauty of sunrise and sunset from different angle everyday on the highlands
DSC 0102
You could always wait for the morning mist to be lifted.

For this, it does not matter if you sign up for the five-day or the two-week challenge. Since the participants are moving from one stage to another, you can enjoy the beauty of the sunrise and sunset from different angles everyday through out the event.

While sunrise is usually difficult to see because of the thick morning mist at the highlands, one could still enjoy the scenery on how the mist is slowly lifted revealing gorgeous view of the highlands.

Plus if the weather is good, each view sunset is just unique and breathtaking on its own.

DSC 0614
Catch this sunset at Krayan highlands
16.Pick up a set of binoculars and do some bird watching

It doesn’t matter if you are an amateur birdwatcher or not, these Borneo highlands are the perfect place to do some birdwatching, so don’t miss out on that.

There have been sightings of rare and endemic Dulit frogmouth (Batrachostomus harterti) as well as the Black Oriole (Oriolus hosii) in the area. Perhaps you might be the lucky one to spot them during this
Heart Of Borneo Highlands Eco Challenge III.

DSC 0045
You never know what you might spot while trekking at these highlands.
17.Come and take a stroll on the rocky beach of Borneo

From the mountain to the sea, Heart of Borneo Highlands Eco Challenge III has it all!

One of the final stops of the challenge is a trip to Tusan Beach in Miri. The beach is famous for its horse-like rock formation and the blue tears phenomenon.

18.Visit one of the oldest human settlements in Borneo

While in Miri, the participants will also make a short visit Niah National Park.

The star attractions here are the Painted Cave featuring prehistoric drawings and site where remains of human skeleton from 40,000 years ago were found.

19.Come and watch the Milky Way without the light pollution

Calling all stargazers out there! Imagine having to gaze on the Milky Way without any light pollution.

From KajoMag’s first-hand experience, one can look up at the sky and just stare at it for hours from the Borneo highlands.

It is a breathtaking sight that you can never get from the city. To enhance your experience even more, download a star chart app on your smartphone before you go and see how many constellations you can spot during the event.

DSC 0459
Enjoy the skies of Borneo Higlands without any light pollution.
20. Join to unwind and let the nature of Heart of Borneo highlands heal you

There are plenty of scientific studies out there that have proven being outdoor in the nature is one of the best medicine to improve your mental health.

It lowers your chances of getting depressed as well as the risk of having mental illness.

Furthermore, making trips to the forest can actually improve your immunity. So, what are you waiting for? It is time to sign up for Heart of Borneo Highlands Eco Challenge III!

For more information, download this brochure.

What you need to know about Borneo’s only two macaque species

Unlike other primate species such as the orangutan or proboscis monkey known worldwide due to their endangered status, Borneo’s macaque species are infamously known as pests.

Despite their status as pests, surprisingly, there are only two macaque species residing in Borneo.

Check out what makes these two species of macaques unique primates to share the island of Borneo with:
1.Long-tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis)
Long-tailed macaque.

This primate is native to Southeast Asia. Although they are named the crab-eating macaque, they don’t live entirely on crabs for their diet. They are opportunistic omnivores.

According to Junaidi Payne and Charles M. Francis in A Field Guide to the Mammals of Borneo, a group of long-tailed macaques can often be detected by their calls. The most common call is being ‘krra!’ which might explain why it is called “kera” in Malay.

Fruits and seeds make up to 90% of their food intake. However, they also prey on insects, frog’s eggs, and small birds.

They are commonly found at the beach, mangrove areas and along the river. With more humans encroaching on their habitat, these mammals have become more adaptable, taking advantage of our facilities.

Some long-tailed macaques take food from garbage cans and even have no qualms stealing food from people.

With their opposable thumbs, they know how to open food containers or simply grab your food.

They often travel in groups of 20 to 30 but only part of the group can be seen at one time. Individual macaques tend to be less noisy than langurs when travelling through the tree canopy but groups are more noisy.

Sometimes you can even spot them running in a group at coastal beach such as at Bako National Park and Similajau National Park.

Macaque 2
A group of long-tailed macaques seen scavenging from a dumpster at Sarawak Cultural Village.
2. Pig-tailed macaque (Macaca nemestrina)
Cercopithecidae Macaca nemastrina
The Macaca nemestrina at Sepilok, Sabah, Malaysia. Photo credit: Hectonichus [CC BY-SA 3.0 (]

Do you know that this is the only primate which often descends to the ground to flee from man?

In Peninsular Malaysia and Thailand, however, these pig-tailed macaques are trained to pick coconuts by their handlers.

They are distinctively known for their short tails, which look like pig tails. These primates are typically found in the jungle, and with increasing agriculture and human activities, plantations. Also known as Sundaland pig-tailed macaques, they feed on fruits, seeds, berries, fungi and small invertebrates.

Ecologically, scientists discovered that they play an important role as seed dispersers of rattan.

If you are not familiar with them, you might know them as ‘beruk’.

1 2 3 5