Nov 032009
 

Sarawak, part of Borneo, is a treasure trove of natural wonders, probably best appreciated through its many protected and well managed national parks and lush rain forests where alluring caves, cascading waterfalls, pristine beaches and exotic wildlife are waiting to be enjoyed.

My visit to Sarawak’s natural wonders, with my lovely wife, Kavita during our honeymoon back in 2002 brings back unforgettable fond memories of Gunung Gading National Park, Bako National Park, Niah National Park, the boat ride up the mighty Rajang river to Kapit and Belaga.

SarawakEmblem-w-flowerThe land of the majestic hornbill having diverse endemic species such as Proboscis Monkey, huge Rafflesia flowers in Gunung Gading NP, not forgetting the potpourri of different races and ethnic groups of people in Sarawak and the “Bruno Manser” saga which propelled Sarawak into the centerpiece of international attention over the years never stop to amaze and fascinate me.

Tomorrow, I return to Sarawak on a mission. To work for a client in the oil palm sector. This trip takes me to the northeastern region in the hinterland of Miri and Bintulu, giving me another chance to savor the ecologically and environmentally rich natural assets of Sarawak, not forgetting visits to long houses. For this reason Sarawak is still regarded as one of the top “nature adventure” destination in this part of the world.

Nov 032009
 

visiongreenWith the recent dramatic results of the 12th Malaysian election on 8th March 2008, numerous public forums and post-elections open dialogues were organized.

Lots of hot debates in kedai kopi, at hypermarkets while queuing to pay for your groceries about Who is going to be elected as the next Menteri Besar, Deputy CMs and ExCo members. Suddenly so many people turn critics overnight.

One thing remains, is that the fate of our environment was never the topic of conversation, not before, not during, may a little after the elections. Now that the new line up is rolled out, what is the Commitment for Mother Earth? For a start, there is certainly more rubbish as banners, buntings, flyers from the elections are cleared up, NATION wide. Who is accountable for this? Leave to the Majlis Daerah, or the newly appointed CMs or State ExCo or maybe you and I?

How about a clean and environment friendly elections when Malaysian’s vote for the 13th time in her history. How about electronic ballots, I am sure by then the technology will allow you to cast your votes through secured connection, regardless where you live in a truly global world. Malaysians now depend much on sms, internet and blogs as a source of information and probably that’s what is needed for the next generation of MALAYSIANs when voting time comes… no more sepanduks, bantings, banners, and more rubbish.

Lets vote for Envirolections, next time la…

Nov 032009
 
CBC News
This illustration of the greater dwarf cloud rat (Carpomys melanurus) was published in 1898 as part of the formal description of the then new species. That description was based on the only other sighting of the mammal in 1896. (Thomas, Oldfield. On the Mammals obtained by Mr. John Whitehead during his recent Expedition to the Philippines) This illustration of the greater dwarf cloud rat (Carpomys melanurus) was published in 1898 as part of the formal description of the then new species. That description was based on the only other sighting of the mammal in 1896. (Thomas, Oldfield. On the Mammals obtained by Mr. John Whitehead during his recent Expedition to the Philippines) Scientists have rediscovered a “beautiful little animal” last seen 112 years ago in the mossy forests of the Philippines and long thought to be extinct.

A team of Filipino and American researchers announced Friday they captured a greater dwarf cloud rat in the Philippines’ Mount Pulag National Park. The little mammal weighs about 185 grams and has dense soft reddish-brown fur, a black mask around large dark eyes, small rounded ears, a broad and blunt snout and a long tail covered with dark hair.

“This beautiful little animal was seen by biologists only once previously, by a British researcher in 1896 who was given several specimens by local people, so he knew almost nothing about the ecology of the species,” Lawrence Heaney, curator of mammals at Chicago’s Field Museum, said in a release. “Since then, the species has been a mystery, in part because there is virtually no forest left on Mount Data, where it was first found.”

Over the spring, Heaney’s team conducted the first comprehensive survey of the small mammals in the mossy, or cloud, forests of Mount Pulag National Park. Their findings included the dwarf cloud rat, a smaller relative of the giant clouds rats, mammals found only on Luzon Island, in the Philippines, but widespread and comparatively well known.

Danilo Balete, the project’s co-leader with the Philippine National Museum, spied the rat in a patch of mature mossy forest high on Mount Pulag, at about 2,350 metres above sea level. It was in the canopy of a large tree, on a large horizontal branch covered by a thick layer of moss, orchids and ferns, about five metres above ground.

“We had suspected from its broad, hand-like hind feet that it lived up in big trees, but this is the first evidence to confirm that,” said Balete.

Because this is the first time the dwarf cloud rat has been seen in its natural habitat, scientists will study the mammal in depth to figure out how they evolved and how to keep them around.

“Finding this animal again gives us hope for the conservation of one of the most diverse and threatened mammal faunas of the world,” said William Stanley, collections manager of mammals at the Field Museum.

Much of the mossy forest in Mount Pulag National Park where the biologists found the dwarf cloud rat was logged during the 1960s, and few large trees remain. The mossy forest has been gradually regenerating, but many local people now have vegetable farms there and some of the mossy forest has disappeared as a result.

The research team suspects the rat lives only high in the big canopy trees in mature mossy forest, at elevations from about 2,200 to 2,700 metres, high in the mountains of the Central Cordillera.