Saturday, May 29, 2010

Out of Boredom

I was wondering why there were so many idiots in my workplace lately.

Probably this was the reason.


There were so many types of these idiots. They came in different shades, colours and having to observe them, they were quite fun to watch at times.











Besides these idiots in my workplace, the full moon on this day was awesome.  At the end of the day, I still vote for the real full moon as the best thing to observe rather than these idiots.

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

To Be Anonymous or Not To Be

Dear Friends Of Langkawi's Rainforest;
A total of 193 signatures as at now and I am posting this blog since the online petition to conserve Langkawi's remaining rainforest was initiated by the Malaysian Nature Society Langkawi on 19th May 2010.

Thank you to those who had signed and put your names there. 

Did anyone notice that there were a few numbers deleted from the list of signatures?  If  not, please click on this LINK and review the list of first 150 names that signed the petition.



I was curious and asked the owner of this petition. He explained that those signatures that had been deleted were the anonymous and without names. 

Why? To avoid any argument of having more than two signatures of the same person, etc. Therefore, if you choose to remain anonymous, please do not waste your time signing this online petition otherwise it will be deleted.

I am a bit confused now. How does this work here? If someone choose not to display the name and yet have a valid email address, will the signature be included or should be included? 

The same person can put two different names on the list and how can we argue that?

I had put my real name in a few different online petitions and noticed there were a lot of other people who preferred to remain anonymous. I am beginning to think or doubt the effectiveness of online petitions.

Can anyone please share your opinion or your enlightenment?

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

My Personal International Day of Biodiversity

May 22nd 2010 was the International day of Biological Diversity (Biodiversity). I had completely forgotten about it until the late evening. What if I was aware of this day when I got off the bed? What can I do? What does this day mean to me or to those around me? 
My only simple answer is that all of us depends on the biodiversity around us for the air we breathe, the food we eat, natural medicine that heals us, the beauty for us to admire and the economic value for a nation that depends on eco-tourism.

So, what did I do on this day?

Thankfully, I had an opportunity to head out on a kayak on this day in the afternoon to check out the biodiversity on this island. And this is what I had been waiting for after the long period of dry season on Langkawi. The awakening and the full bloom of White Slipper Orchid (Paphiopedilum Niveum).

If you google this orchid species and the word Langkawi, you will find some websites  had highlighted Langkawi is home to the Paph. Niveum. Therefore, it is not a secret anymore. However, where can you find it? heh, heh...Secret...

In the usual areas where this species of orchid were found, it did not seem to appear yet. I was beginning to worry that this species will suffer due to lack of rain, extreme heat and prolonged dry season on Langkawi. 

Under Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), Paph. Niveum is listed under protection of CITES Appendix-1, which prohibits commercial trade unless seedling or tissue cultures obtained in vitro, in solid or liquid media, and transported in sterile containers are not subject to the provisions of the Convention only if the specimens meet the definition of "artificially propagated" as agreed by the Conference of the Parties.

After paddling for a short while along this island, I was looking very carefully on the rocks. I was ecstatic to see a clump of Paph. Niveum leaves among the scrubs on the rocks. I started taking pictures. Bobbing up and down sitting on the kayak was a challenge to take sharp pictures. 


It seemed that my eyes were beginning to adjust to the images of this orchid and then shortly, I began to see more of this species!! In full bloom!!
The actual view of Paph. niveum. Can you spot it?


Paph. Niveum zoomed in.


The dash of heavy rain on previous days also allowed other plants to flower too.
Some sort of creepers. Need help to id this.


This creeper plant has tiny flowers. 


Some sort of orchid?? Need help to id this.


A Bamboo family. 


A rock taken off the wall by a massive root wrapped around it.


Some weird tree. 


With weird looking fruits. Need help to id this.


Also fauna like Collared Kingfisher (Todiramphus chloris), Water Monitor Lizard (Varanus Salvator) and:
Rock Thrush?


Kayaking back to the shore, I was smiling from ear to ear after having seen them. I did not return empty handed.

Everyday is biodiversity day. This day was dedicated since 2002 by United Nations  to remind the entire homosapiens on this planet the importance of our biodiversity around us. That is why we have so many of these: World Environmental Day, Earth Day, Earth Week,  World Wetlands Day, etc...


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Monday, May 24, 2010

Tale of Two Tigers and Two Different Fates

This is one of the activities you can do at the tiger gallery and exhibit at Oriental Village, Langkawi.

Anyone who is willing to contribute RM100 will have the opportunity to hand feed the tigeress. Would that someone wants to risk it for a RM100? Why not? They mentioned clearly that safety would not be compromised. Eh... contradiction?
I'm sure Zanah the tigeress is very much trained, tame and wouldn't mind at all. Don't you think by doing that, someone  may get the incorrect message and have a wrong impression of a tiger? 

I was told by a friend who was there recently on how Zanah performed her lunch stunt during the feeding time. Several parts of chickens were hidden and Zanah was released to sniff and find her feed. Sounds like fun?

Here is another story about a captive tiger in A'Formasa, Melaka. However, this tiger in A'Formosa was not as "glamorous" as the tigeress in Langkawi. Two friends of mine sent me this link.





A very disheartening scene to see that tiger which represented our Malaysian coat-of-arms is disgraced and humiliated. That video was recorded 3 months ago during the Chinese New Year period.  You can tell from the background music. Oh my... on the auspicious year of the Tiger. 

Do allow me to translate the short conversation recorded between the two girls spoken in Cantonese.

1st girl: "Stop videoing! What the hell for?!"
2nd girl: "Wish to let people see how they abused the tiger".
1st girl: "Lets expose them...  hahahaha"
2nd girl: "Ya-lah... let's see how A'formosa abused it".
Later, one of the girls said: "Why they can record and we can't??"

Then a male voice came in.
He said: "Oh they are the crew team."
Girl said: "I know"
He said: "They are videoing this to sell".

Later, the girls were commenting how the staff was pulling the tiger's face and whiskers. One of the girls spoke in Malay telling that staff to stop the act. Obviously he ignored and the girls were trying to educate that ignorant staff on our nation's endangered tigers population. Bravo to these two girls! 

I have no idea who these girls were but I must thank them for bringing this up to the public awareness.

When will these Perhilitan people step in and have the balls to take real actions?

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

It's NOW or NEVER!


 Are we going to let this happen?



EQUALS TO  
This place is next to Temurun Waterfalls, which is a 100% man made waterfall. Now, it is a white elephant.



Are we going to let "Langkawi Falls"?

The choice is ours otherwise the effect of deforestation will see Langkawi loses her natural heritage in a blink of an eye.



The fate of Langkawi now depends on the strength of her majority. Will you join the force or not?

If yes, simply click on this link to the petition sponsored by Malaysian Nature Society:

If not, I shall command my Na'vis to your village...heeehhheee...

Please help to send this link to as many nature lovers as possible. Thank you.

It is NOW or NEVER!!

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

LANGKAWI WILL BE IN TROUBLE!!


"Those who are native to the island have most to lose", he says. "The destruction of their natural heritage not only jeopardises their jobs in the tourism industry, but also will impact on the farming and fishing industries, and ultimately their quality of life".

Yes!! It is LOUD and CLEAR. Not my words, though. Pictures always paint a thousand clear words and the truth. These images here were taken from an "Avatar" flying machine about a month ago. Many thanks to Kulark (Ku Ismadi) for sharing his photographs via Facebook. Where are my Na'vis?

Image contributed by Kulark

For the past three months, there were burnings on the hills. The areas were Bukit Sawak (next to Gunung Raya); Kuala Teriang, Pasir Hitam area and Kilim area.







These are happening on our Langkawi's precious lowland rainforest now. Here is a true story. To safeguard the "victim's" identity, I will write about his experience and choose not to reveal the exact location. 

"Workers were cutting the trees in the forest nearby. Sitting next to the forest is a clean stream supplying water to nearby farms. After cutting the trees for days, the condition of the stream was tarnished. Worried over the consequences of deforestation, a complaint was made to the Forestry Department. The work stopped for awhile. Then days later, the workers were spotted continuing to tear the forest apart in the night about 2am onwards. The locals there were furious and yet they were afraid to do something about it. "

Why do tourists visit Langkawi? 
Why Langkawi has attracted expatriates to migrate over to Langkawi?
Because of her wonderful beauty, landscape, her diversity of flora and fauna and her amazing geological formations. Do you think the foreign tourists would come here for the duty free products??

What attracted researchers, scientists and nature enthusiasts over to Langkawi?
Langkawi is home to 200 over species of birds, inclusive of migratory birds; home to over 350 species of butterflies; home to the oldest rock formation in West Malaysia, home to some wild orchids and much more.

So, what are these people doing to Langkawi's natural heritage??

Loss of the rainforest = loss of important species of trees = loss of food source to wildlife, birds and butterflies = loss of healthy population of wildlife = loss of soil stability = Erosion = Landslides = loss of water catchment areas = loss of water source = loss of agriculture = loss of tourists = loss of Langkawians' economic sources.

Do I need to comment further? If the State Government and Forestry Department continue to close their eyes and allow this to happen, Langkawi will lose her assets and her people will suffer.

I am writing this not only to bring awareness of what is happening here. I am writing to support our pioneer, well known naturalist and environmentalist; Irshad Mobarak on his calling to stop deforestation here. "Not to protect Langkawi's natural capital is economic suicide", Irshad says in an article on Case Study: Keeping Tourism in Balance with Nature

2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity. The United Nations proclaimed May 22 The International Day for Biological Diversity (IBD). Will we be celebrating or mourning over the loss of biodiversity?

Links:
3. Read what Pak Teh wrote on Biodiversity Footprints


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Monday, May 10, 2010

Vanessa's Backyard


Exactly a year ago on our 3rd mangroves planting at Kuala Melaka, Langkawi; I noticed a small dense area of mangroves over 1km away. I was curious about it yet didn't bother to get there to check it out.


This picture was taken from where we were at Kuala Melaka.

After zooming in to the maximum

Recently, Vanessa, a Mat Salleh (expatriate) living in Langkawi for 3 years and also a member of Malaysian Nature Society (Langkawi chapter) read my blog and decided to share her story of that area which happens to be her backyard too.

Vanessa captured some moments through her video of the mangroves planting.

According to Vanessa, that was the third year of planting after the tsunami. After viewing that video, I was stunned by the hard work those local boys did and they went through such condition as compared to ours... child's play...

I decided to drop by Vanessa's backyard to check out the planting site at Kuala Teriang.
ooooohh.... What I saw like trigs from afar were like tee pees 
Each saplings were tied to each of the legs of the trig. Looks like those times when people were to be sacrificed and each of them were tied onto the poles left to die. The only question  I have is do the planters return to untie the ropes otherwise the saplings will be constricted of their growth.

Next to the site with the tee pees, there is another site with some young Rhizophoras sp. and there was a barricade built. From my observation, that looked like some sort of barricade or wave breaker to me. We are unsure of when it was built or if the purpose of it there was to protect the mangroves seedlings.


View of the wave breaker or barricade at close up

Next to the tee pees area is a barren area where now it has been planted with new seedlings. According to Vanessa, another group came and planted more seedlings between 6th and 7th May 2010. 
This group used another technique as compared to the previous group that used the tee pees technique.
Each seedling is stuck into the mud with a thin bamboo stick next to it. I have no idea what is the bamboo stick is for. It is not even tied to the seedling. The picture here is showing the seedling of Rhizophora Apiculata species


At a glance, the number of seedlings were estimated to be thousands. The seedlings with bamboo sticks were planted far out towards the sea. My only concern is when the peak season of the Western wind arrives, the swells will be very strong bringing in large volume of mud and debris knocking the seedlings away. Oh well... we shall see... 

Another patch of mangroves at the end of the planting of the new seedlings

Vanessa took me to the other side at the end of new seedlings where there is another patch of mangroves. As we walked towards there, I was distracted by a colony of fiddler crabs. I was awed by the huge number of these fiddler crabs scattering very quickly crossing our path in a large group.

These fiddler crabs indeed do look like soldiers in the battle field
Fiddler crabs "sword fighting"


This patch of mangroves here looked very healthy.  These trees are growing very well. Don't know why. Vanessa said that another group planted these. 

Here is Vanessa looking at the Rhizophora genus  

In this patch, I spotted a species of mangroves that I am not familiar with. 

                             
The height of this tree is about an average Avicennia genus

                                                    
Pinkish colour at the end of each stem 

The pneumatophores of this unknown tree. I suspect it could be Avicennia genus but which species? Can any mangroves expert help id this? I will have to wait for it to fruit then.


Another interesting fact about this Kuala Teriang mudflat. According to Vanessa, the locals there told her that once upon a time this mudflat area was a white sandy beach. I met another local while having a drink at Warung Pais later that evening and he told me the same. This mudflat was  just like Pantai Cenang decades ago. Kids used to play and swim in what it is a mudflat now. 


This is how Pantai Cenang, Langkawi looks like. Image taken from www.travelpod.com/travel-photo/k...pod.html

So, what happened then? What made a beautiful sandy beach become a massive muddy beach? Some locals believe that the loss of the sandy beach was a result of the bridge cum wave breaker built on the south west coast of Langkawi (opposite the airport). 

That bridge cum wave breaker, which is now a white elephant, may have created a change in the movement of current that eventually brought in tonnes of mud into Kuala Melaka and Kuala Teriang. Or could it be the tsunami...??

In summary, seems like Vanessa's backyard is an experimental site. Different groups with different techniques of planting. The best part of it is that these groups have funding to do such extensive planting and the locals were paid to do the job. And looks like a fun site for me to "play". 

Vanessa, I shall return. And next time, I will accept your offer for a cup of coffee. Many thanks for showing me around yesterday even though you had a twisted foot. Hope it is getting better. 

Links:

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