Readers’ wildlife photos

July 10, 2014 • 5:09 am

Reader Tony Eales from Australia sent several photos he took on a ten-year-old trip to Sabah. Where’s Sabah, you ask? It’s one of the states of Malaysia, located in northern Borneo. Malaysia is in yellow below, Sabah in red:

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Tony notes

I thought I’d send some from my trip to Sabah, Malaysia back in 2004. They’re not great because I only had a compact Canon PowerShot A75 but the memories of the wildlife are very precious. Apart from the elephants Elephas maximus borneensis and the orang-utan Pongo pygmaeus morio I wouldn’t be able to guess at the species of the others. The frog (I think perhaps a flying frog) and polydesmid were from Danum Valley and the trilobite beetle was from Mt Kinabalu. Anyway Sabah in general and Danum Valley in particular are a magical place that I felt compelled to share. I got to see four of the five “flying”things I’d hoped to see at Danum Valley, flying frog, flying lemur, flying squirrel and flying lizard but alas I didn’t see a flying snake. A good excuse to go back one day.

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He added that all these photos, incuding the elephants below, were taken in natural habitat, though the orang was photographed “at the Sepilok rehabilitation reserve, free but not really wild as they come in for regular feeding.”

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If you know any of the three species below, do weigh in in the comments:

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21 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Beautiful – yet I wonder how much has been lost in the last decade? I went to a series of talks last year To celebrate Wallace, with Richard Dawkins & Bill Bailey, & Bill Bailey said that when he did his filming for the BBC on Wallace, there were some island places Wallace visited they just could not film in, so total was the environmental destruction of Indonesian/Malaysian forests.

    This Plos One (ergo FREE) article may be of interest to WEIT readers –
    Extreme Differences in Forest Degradation in Borneo: Comparing Practices in Sarawak, Sabah, and Brunei
    http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0069679

    1. Even ten years ago the flight from Kota Kinabalu to Lahad Datu was sobering, nce you left the vicinity of the Mt Kinabalu national park and the suburban surrounds it was horizon to horizon palm oil plantations stretching over hill and valley. In the heart of Danum Valley you feel like the primary rainforest goes on forever but a look at the map shows it to be just a small patch in the palm oil plantation blanket.

  2. The fascinating critter in the third photo is asking via its question mark formation, “What am I?” I like all insects, small or large, but the huskier ones take my breath way.

  3. Interesting things about the trilobite beetle: they are in the genus Duliticola, and the family Lycidae. These are commonly known as ‘net winged beetles’ when in their adult beetle form.
    I have learned that this one is likely an adult female, however. and that the females of this species stay in the larval form. Males grow up into regular beetles, and here is a possible adult malemale. The photographer is not sure, but it is a net winged beetle.
    I can say that Lycid beetles that look very much like this individual are in the U.S., where they are commonly seen sitting on leaves along forest margins. One can easily guess a couple reasons why they do not feel the need to hide. Their larvae are found under bark and in leaf litter, and they have the same ‘trilobite’ look.

    1. I suppose the female not developing flight is a bit like some species of moth where the females are winless. How fascinating! Is there a gene that the females have that is not switched on? I wonder if a geneticist could get a female to develop?

      1. The genetic control for keeping females in a juvenile form probably involves the action of what is known as juvenile hormone. This is a hormone used in insects to keep them in a larval form as they molt from larva to larva. Levels of JH normally declines over time, so that later molts change a larva into a pupa, and the pupa into an adult. So the females here might be maintaining high levels of JH. I do not know for this for sure, though.
        Many insects retain the juvenile form in the females. This strategy likely allows them to put more energy into their eggs.

  4. The last three photos are Icky, Sticky and Picky.

    More seriously, I didn’t know about juvenile insects. The sexual dimorphism makes sense for ecological resource allocation, larger females dominating over true juveniles and as noted, conserving energy. I’ll bet not metamorphosing is less risky too, on many levels (predation, change problems), while males comes cheap.

  5. Love the photos, esp. the three mystery “bugs”. Would love to see any of those critters in person. Thanks for sharing.

  6. This discussion of the trilobite beetle was very interesting and thought-provoking. Thank you to all.

  7. My parents traveled to Sabah about 30 years ago, and visited an orang center, possibly the one in the photo. The matriarch was an ornery orang named Jane. At the time, at least, some contact between humans and the orangs was permitted, and Jane bit my mother on the heel.

    Thanks for the pix; I’ll show these to my father and I hope it brings back some meaningful travel memories for him!

  8. Regarding the first unknown (a millipede of some kind?)–I’m interested in the background as well. Is that round “frame” some millipede secretion, or is the animal just sitting in the middle of a sap-oozing tree lesion?

    1. I’d go with the sap-oozing lesion. Whether the millipede is eating sap, or some kind of biofilm sustained by sap, is another question.

      1. Thanks, John! That makes the most sense. Interesting thought about a biofilm–it’s fun to ponder the possibilities!

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