Thursday, 4 September 2008

Late Russell Wallace, here I come!

“It (the Malay archipelago) produces the giant flowers of the Rafflesia, the great green-winged ornithoptera (princes among the butterfly tribes), the man-like Orang-utan, and the gorgeous Birds of Paradise” – Alfred Russell Wallace, in the “Malay Archipelago”
With these lines ringing in the back of my mind, I entered Peninsular Malaysia for an on-the-house field course by Centre for tropical forest science. The course lasted six weeks so you may expect the blog logs to be long! But following previous formats, will keep it more picture-oriented.

Alas, I cannot keep my promise of uploading beautiful 50 mm lens pictures because the films got spoilt at the airport when they got xrayed in my bag! So to start with, I would like to thank Manup, Dia, Pradeep, Lillian, Liwen, Alyse, Lydia, Param, Mumu, Ummul, Rhett, Rin, Rhona, Dtoon, big mama, Cici, Sandy, Du, Sze-leng, Juni, Kang min & Por for being there and for such a super time, and some of these peoples pics and some mine I salvaged are the ones I will be putting up. So, THANKS! Terima kasih!!!

As I entered Pasoh, a line that Juni said struck me and will remain with me forever: a garden amidst oil-palm. This is a good four-word description of Pasoh forest, which is roughly about 17 sq. km amidst an ever-encroaching oil palm plantations. But the core area of this forest will remain mainly since it is being utilised for intensive research. In 1985, a 50-ha permanent plot was established to monitor growth, establishment and mortalities of lowland evergreen forest tree species, of which so little is known. So the good news is, the 50 ha will remain till humanity does, or at least till research on lowland forests is on!

Mornings began with White handed gibbon calls, which last the first two hours of the day and the occasional ‘Kha-Khoo-Khaan’ of the dusky leaf monkey. We also often heard the helicopter-like sound of wreathed hornbills flying by and sometimes we were lucky enough to see them. After being briefed about Pasoh, about the CTFS and the 50-ha plot, we headed straight to the most interesting part of Pasoh, the ~60 m tall tower. View from top? Picture are arranged such that the view from all the sides is captured. Here goes…

The last pic is of the tower 2-3rd way up, there was still a wing which some of us that dared the wind and the sway climbed.
For the next few weeks we were to be taught entomology, ornithology and primatology basics which we thoroughly enjoyed. We also went to the town once in a while (once, actually in the four weeks!), spoilt brats that we were. We walked many km and then we had some ginger beer, which is not really beer, much much tastier than beer. So some pictures of the town?

The leaf litter almost everywhere in Pasoh glows dimly at nights due to a fungus that forms on dead and sometimes fresh leaves. The next chapter is about the night walks in Pasoh and few snakes, frogs and geckoes. So long...

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