Month: April 2015

Veiled Lady Phallus indusiatus fungus Danum Valley Sabah Borneo Malaysia

Veiled Lady – 6.6.6 Tessellation

Most colourful and amazing lifeforms in the wet tropics can be seen on the forest floor, however, they often go unnoticed. But if one keeps an eye open for the little things some truly spectacular gems can be found – and this goes for fungi in particular. They play a vital role for the life on our planet, especially in rainforest where their long thread-like hyphae invade and breakdown the tissues of dead wood and leaf litter, producing nutrients for other plants and animals. On a strenuous hike in the pristine Danum Valley we stumbled upon this beautiful Veiled Lady or Long Net Stinkhorn (Phallus indusiatus), a fungus that can be found in tropical regions around the world. Whenever it is ready to reproduce the fruiting body is grown in an effort to attract insects for the dispersion of the spores. The veiled lady is very short-lived, yet the specimen we found was still fresh regarding the slime covered cap and the undamaged hexagon-tessellated skirt – almost a perfect piece of modern architecture.

Jade Green Cicada Dundubia Vaginata Kinabatangang Sabah Borneo Malaysia

Jade Green Cicada

With the Pygmy Elephant and Western Tarsier we have highlighted two of Borneo’s iconic inhabitants. However, there are many more and this instalment is about one that might not always get the attention it deserves: the Cicada. Maybe they’re just not rare enough, and certainly not cuddly, but these noisy insects perform one of the most characteristic symphonies in the tropical forests around the globe when the daylight wanes. Where the massive Emperor or 6 o’clock Cicada (Pomponia merula) excels in the production of an electrical shaver-like sound, the Jade Green Cicada (Dundubia vaginata) is the most beautiful by far. Around 5.30 every afternoon a few males would start their concert by a rhythmical pulsation of their abdomens (called tymbalisation) to be followed by the ones in their direct vicinity until retirement for the night. Despite their noisy call cicadas are not easy to locate – their excellent vision warns them for possible threats and they stop calling, hide or simply fly away to another tree when disturbed. When spotlighting in search for some nocturnal action …

Western Tarsier Horsfield's Tarsier Kinabatangan Sabah Borneo Malayia Primate

Western Tarsier – Five in One

“Our Simpalili, better known to us as Lili the Simp, was the best endurance flagpole sitter in all of North Borneo. He was brought to us from the jungle clinging to a long stick, and his expression of strained affability, and his determination not to leave his stick, always reminded me of the expressions and actions of human contestants in American endurance contests” – Agnes Newton Keith, Land Below the Wind The variety of life in the Bornean rainforests is truly baffling. Especially the primates are well represented with for example the big-nosed Proboscis, the cheeky Macaque, agile Gibbon and the human-like Orang Utan, but although they are all fascinating in their own way, the Western Tarsier – the island’s smallest primate and mammal – was our favourite by far: just one look in its big eyes simply makes you want to cuddle this adorable prosimian. During the day Western Tarsiers (Cephalopachus bancanus borneanus) sleep on the vines and creepers of the dense forest undergrowth – at nighttime they become active to forage on insects and small vertebrates while …

Borneo Pygmy Elephant Kinabatangang Sabah Malaysia

Borneo Pygmy Elephant

We are back from Borneo. Two fantastic weeks in Sabah have given us one of our best wildlife experiences ever – and this is no exaggeration. Big swaths of land in the northeastern corner of the island are still covered in primary rainforests. Estimated to be over 130 millions old these are some of the oldest rainforests on our planet – no wonder we encountered such a rich and intriguing biodiversity under and above its almost impenetrable canopy. Spotting its diverse inhabitants was by no means easy. With only 2% of the sunlight reaching the forest floor most life seems to be concentrated amid the leafy tops of the tall Dipterocarps, beyond our sight and hearing, while the fact that many mammals are nocturnal is another obstacle for easy wildlife viewing. Add the leeches, stifling humidity and 5.30 wake-up calls (sci-fi ringtones) and you’ll have a rough sketch of the efforts we made to meet the animals – photography in those challenging circumstances is another chapter. But still, we got so much more than we bargained …

West of Wallace’s Line

Time for new adventures as iAMsafari will be exploring the jungles of Borneo for the next couple of weeks! We’ll be spending time on the banks of the Kinabatangan River as well as the Danum Valley Field Centre in search of the island’s magnificent wildlife. As we will busy living the adventure to the max there will be no updates, likes or comments from the field until we’re back. Hope catching up soon again!

Common Brushtail Possum Lesmurdie Falls National Park Mundy Perth Hills Western Australia

Publishing, Long-Tails and Possums

As a wildlife photographer I always hope to spot spectacular creatures, to capture them in the most artistic way and to publish the results in posts that go viral on the internet. Wouldn’t that just be fantastic? Absolutely, but it never happens. I guess that iAMsafari is just a reflection of our ramblings in the outdoors, aiming to entertain highly esteemed followers, fellow-bloggers and ourselves! A glance at our blog’s statistics shows that some posts are more popular than others, but just a handful seem to draw in visitors over and over again – these are the true ‘hits’ and ‘best-sellers’ here at iAMsafari. The majority however is read and liked significantly less regular – as opposed to the very popular posts they are what is often called the ‘long-tail’ of publishing. This is nothing new as every blog or collection of published articles will show the same distribution unless you either release just blockbusters or ill-received content (both options seem pretty unlikely to me by the way). Although I admit that statistics and popularity are …