Thursday, August 9, 2007

Sarawak Wildlife

Sarawak has always been a land of nature wonders. A wide diversity of what mother nature has to offer can be found here. From nature parks to animal sanctuaries, there's plenty of flora and fauna out there. And I got to experience and share the beauty of its wildlife today.

Since there wasn't any zoo's around Kuching (in fact, I don't think there is one), I followed my mom's friend, Aunt Lucy, for a trip out of town to one of the wildlife centers. Tagging along was the daughter of another of my mom's friend, Joanne. First stop, was the Semengoh Nature Study Centre, also known as Semengoh Wildlife Park.

The main attraction here was Malaysia's favorite primate, the Orang Utan. The orangutan is no stranger to Malaysians, having appeared on numerous logos, emblems and famously, as the official mascot of the 1998 Commonwealth Games held in our country.

Wira, the orangutan mascot of the 1998 Commonwealth Games

An orangutan statuette at the entrance of the wildlife centre.

Sadly, we arrived at the centre too late and missed the feeding time, which by then, most of the orangutans will come out from the forest to eat in front of everyone present. There was another feeding time at 3pm, so we decided to come back later for it.

No orangutans, no people

We then headed to Jong's Crocodile Farm, located just a few kilometres away from where we were. This privately owned farm situated along the Kuching-Serian road is claimed to be the biggest in the state. It houses not only hundreds crocodiles, but also other animals such as otters, wild boars, snakes, monitor lizards and monkeys.

The croc greeting us from above at the entrance to Jong's Crocodile Farm

The number of exhibits on display has grown pretty much in amount and variety since my last visit there, particularly the crocodiles.

Years ago, what people would usually see were these smaller ones.

Few years later, they've grown and you'll get to see longer and bigger ones!

This huge snapper is given a cage on its own, nicknamed 'Pak Indon'

We were unlucky back at Semengoh earlier. Here however, we were just in time to catch the crocodiles being fed. Yay!

The crocodiles, partially submerged and patiently waiting.

We were patiently waiting too!

Soon enough, the crocodiles start to appear by the numbers as duck carcasses and bloody pieces of meat were thrown to them.

Once the meat is tossed into the pond, the crocodiles will swarm in and fight for the food. Tossing, splashing, sometimes even biting each other!

Food fight!

This one chose to stay away from the food fight. Guess he's on a diet.

Somehow, the crocodiles were not attracted to the duck carcass hung above them. They are more alerted to vibrations on the water surface created when the meat is thrown into the pond. So...

Let's play a game of "Who Gets The Meat 1st!"

Contestants ready!

Here's, contestant no.1 going for a shot.

Sadly he missed. Next up, contestant no. 2, trying to do the Superman!

Our 1st runner up with this winning snap!

And finally, our Grand Champion with a perfect standing pose!

A 'stand out' from the other crocodiles! :p

After feeding time, we went around viewing the other exhibits, most of them in their cages. Felt pity for some of them because they were caged and living in confinement. I prefer them to be out in the wild, but then again, this is an animal sanctuary.

This otter, which Joanne said was cute, kept wailing whenever people pass by. How sad...

Prisoner behind bars...

A sun bear sleeping

A weird, colorful costrich-looking creature from Papua New Guinea. Looks like something from Lost World.

Lonely monkey

Wild boars

Lily pond in the middle of the farm.

The dark conditions of some cages plus poor lighting made it difficult for me to capture pictures of the other animals, such as the bear cat, snakes and peacocks. Maybe it's time for me to get a digital camera. Anyways, besides the wonderful exhibits on display, there were a few extraordinary & weird ones!

I wonder what happened to this crocodile's jaw.

Tailess crocodile

Now some weird 'bat'!

There was also an eyeless crocodile and a so-called white crocodile which didn't look white at all. At the entrance/exit, there's a small display section which serves as a mini museum.

Skull of the legendary croc, 'Bujang Senang'

Crocodile anatomy

We left Jong's around 1pm. Headed back to Aunt Lucy's house for a short break before driving all the way back up to Semengoh to catch those elusive orangutans. Reaching there, a big crowd of tourists were already seen waiting at the feeding zone.

After nearly 20 minutes of waiting, there was still no sign of the orangutans. It was humid and the people were getting restless. I guess the crowd, being too noisy, scared the orangutans off. Eventually, the park ranger requested we all head back to the office area where there was another feeding zone, suggesting that the orangutans might appear there. And true enough...

Can you see it?

Trees started shaking, branches snapped and leaves fell from above. Moments later, an orangutan was seen walking the ropes dangling above us. For a moment, I was afraid it might pee on me...

Watching the orangutan swinging from branch to branch with ease was fascinating. It was so agile, with swift motions of all four limbs. Climbing down from above, the orangutan grabbed the fruits on the platform and hanging on a rope, started eating in front of us, minding his own business.

A second orangutan was seen later, arriving in the same pattern as the first one. I guess it was routine for them.

Step 1: Tightrope walking

Step 2: Swing down in style

Step 3: Grab and eat!

Besides being our 'recent common ancestor', orangutans possess a high intellectual level like chimpanzees. They were clever enough to break the coconut shells by repeatedly knocking the shells on tree trunks and grab fruits by their legs, mouth and hands, maximizing carrying capacity. Interesting as they were, these acts drew cheers and smiles on the faces of tourists. I was captivated by their sheer intelligence and behavior. Joanne wanted so badly to take one back to her Canadian home!

With all these wildlife wonders and many more found at our very own country, why wait? Head down to your local park or zoo and catch a glimpse of these unique creatures...before they turn extinct. Better still, help in anyway you can, to preserve these creatures and nature's marvels.

2 Added Colors:

rong han said...

the ostrich-looking animal u were saying, i tink it's an emu. if i'm not mistaken la.

the white croc, it's an albino isn't it? didnt it looked fair?

did u see the huge giant arowana at the fish pond? it's so huge it looks like a giant. very very big. omg!! scary la. looks like some pre-historic living fossil swimming in the lake.

the pak indon very huge huh? i tink there's one more rite? the biggest living croc there? cant remember which one.

Ken said...

no, not emu. it's a Cassowary. Just found it out. =p was listed once by Guinness as worlds most dangerous bird. LOL.

not really fair as in white la. lighter shade of color.

didn't see the arowana. I think hiding under the lilies. Maybe because weather was too hot?

Yeah, some other croc. Bujang something. forgot liaw.

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