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News Column Archive

December 2008

Dry season has started now and this means a lot of sunny days and hardly any rain. For me the beauty of Langkawi is at its best during these weeks. At the end of the rainy season it is so beautiful and green and that is exactly what I personally like about this island. We have been very busy preparing ourselves for the coming season. We have trained some new staff, we bought some extra kayaks and produced some new promotion material. We would like to introduce you to Hafizan and Selva, two very passionate guides and real nature lovers. Hafizan teamed up with us last month after working free lance for many years. He is experienced in all sorts of nature trips and you might meet him on one of our trips. You might meet Selva during a boat trip in the mangroves or during a walk and he will be able to entertain you endlessly about all the nature treasures of the mangroves.

Selva
Our guides experienced some very rare things during the last months and I would like to share this with you.

During the kayak trip one of the stops is the bat cave. When Mandy and Hafizan were walking around at the bat cave they saw a python hanging on a branch. It was at a safe distance and all the guests were watching this beautiful snake of about 1.5 metres. Suddenly a young male monkey came out and he jumped on the same branch as the python was sleeping on and he started to jump on that branch. He was really intentionally trying to annoy the snake and of course he succeeded in this. The snake woke up and started to move, which was a sign for the monkey to run off as soon as possible and for our group to move on as well. It was an incredible view to see how nasty the monkeys can be and what smart ways they use without being harmed directly.

Another incident was during one of my evening walks. The chance of spotting flying lemurs during these walks is 100% and most of the time we also see the flying squirrels, be it the red giant or the pygmy. The pygmy flying squirrel is quite difficult to spot as they will be hiding directly after landing on a tree. This evening it was one of the rare moments that the whole group could see the pygmy flying squirrel gliding and landing on a tree. A few seconds after landing, the squirrel was picked up by a collared scops owl flying by. The owl took the squirrel in his mouth, smashed it against the tree and swallowed it in 2 times while really enjoying his dinner. You will not be surprised to hear that all our guests (including me!) were watching this with open mouth!!

We often are having trouble how to determine the differences between a flying Brahminy Kite and Black Kite and most of the time we were not too sure what it would be. Our friend Tom Reynolds has managed to make a photo of both birds chasing after each other and please note the differences between the birds. They have a different tail shape which you can see very well on this photo.

Black Kites - photo by Tom Reynolds

It is a few days before Christmas while I am writing this last column of 2008. It is always a good time to make up the balance of what has happened last year and to make plans how to proceed the next year. We would like to express our gratitude to everybody for supporting us in many ways, for sending us animal photos, for exchanging thoughts about nature with us through mail, phone and of course during the trips. As much as you have expressed your gratitude towards us for giving you an unforgettable nature experience, all our team members would like to thank for you for everything that we have been able to learn from you. On behalf of Aida, Hafizan, Mandy, Selva and Anne-Marie I wish you a prosperous new year 2009 in good health and with a lot of good nature experiences.

Cheers!

Dev


October 2008

Red collared dove - photo by Tom Reynolds

We are almost at the end of the rainy season and you can already feel and see the changes as the migratory birds are coming in. The last weeks we have spotted some birds that are rarely spotted on Langkawi like the Common Hoopoe and the Red Collared Dove.

The Purple Swamphen is breeding very well on Langkawi and couples with their chicks can be spotted on various places. We have added some beautiful new bird photos in the photo gallery, so please have a look there.

We are very ex cited about the fact that one of our friends, Ian Roberts, has left a camera trap after his last visit to Langkawi in September. This will give us the opportunity to check on certain areas in the jungle and to look for animals that are normally hard to spot. As working with this equipment is new for us, we are still trying to find the best location and position and hopefully we can get back to you in our next columns with more information about what we have experienced. So far the long-tailed macaques seem to be everywhere and the camera made already a lot of photos of them.

A few weeks ago a dead dugong (see cow) has been found in the Kilim area, possibly injured by one of the boats. We know about their existence in this part of Malaysia, but it is always good to hear that there is any proof of their existence.

During trips we often get the question if monkeys are able to swim. Of the four existing monkeys on Langkawi (Dusky Leaf Langur, Slow Loris, Colugo and Long-tailed Macaques), only the long-tailed macaques are able to swim. They are also called crab-eating macaques as under normal circumstances crabs will be their staple diet. Unfortunately a lot of these macaques are completely depending on what tourists are feeding them and they will eat now anything they can get.

Long-tailed macaque with baby. Photo by Per Hartvig-Denmark

We are also compiling photos of snakes and we hope to add some new photos soon in the photo gallery. Langkawi has more than 40 species of snakes which are mostly living up in the trees and most of them are nocturnal. There might be a chance of spotting a snake during one of our trips (especially in the mangroves) but we will always keep a safe distance with the boat or the kayak, so there is nothing to worry about.

With the dry season (and the busy season) for Langkawi ahead of us we hope you will be able to visit our beautiful island (again) and to join of our eco-friendly trips. Our team is ready to give you an unforgettable nature experience and we hope to see you soon!

We will get back to you next month.

Dev

 

September 2008

One of the most fascinating animals on Langkawi is definitely the flying lemur (colugo). Langkawi has many of them and it is easy to spot them in certain areas of the island after sunset. I would like to dedicate this column to this beautiful animal.

The flying lemurs are arboreal gliding mammals found in South-east Asia. Their most distinctive feature is the membrane of skin that extends between their limbs and gives them the ability to glide long distances between trees. They are clumsy climbers and they will grip onto the bark of trees with their small and sharp claws and they are as comfortable hanging underneath a branch as sitting on top of it. They are not strong at all on the ground as their weak hind legs are not able to hold up the animal on the ground. Another distinctive feature is their pair of large forward-facing eyes, required to gather sufficient light for interpreting its surroundings, being a creature of the night.

They are territorial, quite shy and generally solitary, except for mothers nursing young. They are certainly herbivores, eating mostly leaves, shoots, flowers and sap and fruit as well.

Flying lemurs are marsupial-like in their breeding habits. The young are born after a gestation period of 60 days in a tiny and undeveloped form and spend their first six months of life clinging to the mother’s belly. Breeding is fairly slow as the young do not reach full size until they are two or three years old.

Flying lemur in action
(Photo coutesy of Per Hartvig - Denmark)

The males are mostly brown with white spots; the females are greyish with white spots.

They can glide as far as 70 metres.

If you would like to see this animal we highly recommend you to book our jungle trek / evening walk combination, starting late afternoon (about 5pm). The first two hours you will spend in the jungle, following a nice (and leech-free!!) trail with a lot of interesting information given by one of our naturalists. The last part of this trip you will experience the shift change of day to nocturnal animals which is fascinating. The chance of spotting this flying lemur is 100%.

I will be back next month with general information about Langkawi.

Dev

 

July/August 2008

 

If we would have the time we would write a column every week as so many things are happening in the nature of Langkawi that we would like to share with you. And even after being almost 20 years on the island I am very happy to discover for me new animals. Last month we did teambuilding with various groups. The kayak trip in the mangroves is a great teambuilding activity and one of the groups requested for some extra caving during the kayak trip. In preparation on this activity we thoroughly inspected the cave ourselves and we saw 2 amazing animals. The first was the tailless whip scorpion. This animal may range from 5 to 40mm and their very thin modified legs can extend several times the length of body. This non venomous scorpion is often moving sideways. I was breathless seeing this scorpion for the first time.

Tailless Whip Scorpion
Tailless Whip Scorpion

Another insect that we encountered in the same cave was the cave cricket with its very long hind legs and long slender antennae. Their long hind legs allow them to jump high and far and although they can appear a bit intimidating they are basically harmless to humans.

Cave Cricket

As we are working on a promotional DVD we hosted a film crew from the UK during a few weeks to shoot our trips and the wildlife that you might encounter during those trips. It was a pleasure working with them and it brought us to many unique situations and locations and they have managed to make shots of a lot of animals that are living on Langkawi. We will definitely come back to this subject in one of the next columns.

We need some help by identifying some frogs and a spider.

Unidentified frog
Unidentified frog
Unidentified spider

The orange colored frog and the spider we saw during one of our jungle trekkings in the cable car area. The other frog we saw during a trip in the mangroves. We are not very well known with frogs and spiders and we would really appreciate if somebody could give us more information about these animals. Whenever we get more information we will update you in one of the next columns.

Birdwatching on Langkawi is a bit more challenging at the moment as most of the migratory birds are not on the island. But some birds of which we thought that they were migratory are still here and that makes us doubt if these birds should not be called resident birds. Examples are the grey wagtail, the black-shouldered kite, the cattle egrets and the orange-breasted trogon. In fact our bird list is never updated 100% as the situation is changing all the time, but we do our best to give you always the most updated version.

We have some busy months behind us and we have met so many different nationalities during our trips. Our naturalists are really enjoying it taking them on a trip and let them experience the beautiful nature of Langkawi. We also appreciate the many reactions we get through e-mail, mailbox and in other ways. This is really encouraging for us and a proof that we are on the right track.

We will be back to you in September and please do not hesitate to contact us for anything ( info@langkawi-nature.com ); we will be pleased to exchange thoughts with you.

 

Dev

 

May/June 2008

Saving lives has been the order of the last weeks; lives of animals, lives of trees and even lives of human beings. It started a few weeks ago with the commonly heard but very hard to spot blue-winged pitta. This beautifully colored bird is one of Langkawi's residents and lives in the forest. The bird did not see the window of the building I was in and crashed into the window, completely dazed. After a few minutes the bird was ok and could go on and the dizzy minutes gave me the opportunity to make a photo of this bird.

Blue Winged Pitta

Then we got a call that on one of the resorts a colugo (flying lemur) had died and that she has left a baby of a few weeks old. The volunteer of the resort has been taking care of the baby by feeding it, by trying to keep it warm, but unfortunately we did not manage to save the life of this little one. The colugo is one of the monkey species found on Langkawi and this nocturnal animal is active during the night. The colugo will climb up the trees and can glide from one tree to another. The babies are born alive and are carried by the mother on their belly until the moment they can be on their own, which can take up to three months.

Colugo with baby - this photo is courtesy of Tom Reynolds

We have also been involved in saving some bigger turtles that were caught in fishing nets (in the mangroves) and we are regularly involved in monkey cases. Mostly it is to catch monkeys to give them treatment for their injuries or diseases but it is very difficult to give them the right treatment as there are no professionals on the island to assist in cases like this. The only thing that we can do is our utmost to help the animal and sometimes the best decision is to put it down to avoid unnecessary suffering, but this is always the last option.

There have been quite some cases last month of people getting lost in the jungle and the worst case even led to a 48 hours stay of 2 persons in the jungle (including 2 nights). The jungles of Langkawi are really beautiful and absolutely worthwhile to visit. There are certain trails that you can follow and there are a lot of areas without any trail. We highly recommend everybody who is not well known in a certain area, not to leave a trail while trekking on your own, better still to hire a guide to bring you to certain areas. The guides will know the beautiful spots and will also know the possible dangers. If you still want to go on your own, inform your resort or guesthouse always about your plans and take always enough water and a mobile phone with you. Do not bring yourself (and others that are looking for you!) into unnecessarily dangerous situations.

70% of Langkawi is still rainforest and this is one of the biggest assets of the island. We would like to share our worries about the preservation of the jungle. More and more trees are being cut down to make space for new buildings and healthy trees are just cut down without reason. If we hear about certain plans for cutting trees we always try our best to save what can be saved, especially when it is on a resort located in the middle of the jungle where a lot of animals are living in, up and around trees. They still need a place to live and that is why we all should do our best to avoid any kind of felling.

After a few weeks of a bit less business, it is picking up again. We are looking forward to the next months with a lot of visitors to be expected on the island to spend their holidays on Langkawi and we are really keen on showing them the most beautiful natural parts of the island.

We will be back to you in our next column.

Dev

 

March/April 2008

In the last weeks we have been extremely busy designing new walks on an island south of Langkawi. Many things are involved in designing a walk, e.g. safety aspects, inventory of animals, mainly birds, studying the flora in the area, etc. But this new challenge is exciting and we hope to succeed in highlighting the environmental aspects here.

More and more requests are coming through Internet and our website which means that our website is well received by a lot of people. We also experience that people tend more to be on an eco-based trip instead of the more commercialized trips. Being in nature and learning more about

Hairun

it, seems to be more popular and that is exactly what our company is providing. All our guides are real nature lovers and we realize that they are a very big asset to our company and a very important factor for our guests to make the trips a success. As we have been growing quite fast in the last months, we are now working with more team members and I would like to take the opportunity to introduce all of them in this column.

Hairun has been working with us since November last year and he is the youngest in our team. His never ending enthusiasm and passion about nature will make even the non-eco tourist aware of the beauty of the nature on Langkawi. He is specialized in handling snakes (his nickname is Cobra) and he is able to give you more information about nature in a couple of hours than you have heard in your life so far. With his Geopark certificate, Hairun is very versatile and you might meet him on any of our trips.

Mandy has been an Outdoor Instructor and Facilitator before she joined our company. Besides running an activity desk in a resort, she is one of our guides for the mangrove kayak trip. She is a great kayaker and in 2005, she was a member of the Women's Doubles Team in the Island-to-Island Kayak Race during the Langkawi Water Festival. She recently completed a four-week expedition to Borneo with World Challenge Australia and has received training in Wilderness First Aid. The mangroves are her 'second home' and we are sure you will never get lost with your kayak with Mandy around you.

Aida
Mandy

Aida is an outdoor adventure enthusiast who is very keen on nature. Now a registered 'green batch' guide with the Ministry of Tourism, Aida is also a member of MNS (Malaysian Nature Society) and an alumnus of Raleigh International expeditions. She is a well rounded, well traveled person and has a passion for the skies. Aida has done many hours paragliding. She is running a recreation desk together with Mandy and on the other days you might meet her on a mangrove trip, during a jungle trekking or on a walk.

Anne-Marie

Last but not least: Anne-Marie is my business partner and she is the one that made this company start. She is running the daily business by handling the bookings, making the planning and the necessary preparation for the trips and the accounting. With her extensive experience in different fields she is the anchor of our company. She is a good wildlife spotter and keen on birdwatching and you might meet her during one of the birdwatching trips or an evening walk.

A few weeks ago I spotted a slow loris, one of the four monkey species on Langkawi (besides the long-tailed macaque, the dusky leaf langur and the colugo/flying lemur). It was walking on a wire in the evening and I could not manage to make a clear photo of this very difficult to spot animal. During one of the boat trips we saw plenty of dolphins around us, at least 30-40 were playing around and the guests of that trip thoroughly enjoyed this spectacle and they were lucky as during the same trip we also spotted the always cute otters.

We have added some new photos in the photo gallery. Please feel free to send us a mail if you feel like talking about nature of Langkawi or somewhere else. We are always keen on new and interesting facts in the amazing world of nature.

Keep in touch and we will come back to you in our next column.

Dev

 

February 2008

Time is flying, even on Langkawi and the year 2008 brought us already some good and interesting things. We have been very busy since Christmas and actually it is still going on. We have people from all over the world on our trips which makes it very interesting for us as we are learning a lot from each other. We also had journalists from Germany and Japan on our trips with the intention to write about our company as well as some Russian and local travel agents that were very enthusiastic about our trips and especially our mangrove kayak trip. We were also visited by an Australian nature guide and it was a real pleasure to have him on a few of our trips. We have learned a lot from each other and we will definitely be working together with each other in the future. We also did a very nice island safari with some teambuilding activities for an international group which was successful. All our teambuilding activities are nature based and can be adjusted with any activity on request and this seems to be a good combination especially for companies that have a full indoor program for the participants. With our company they get the opportunity to explore parts of Langkawi's nature while working together in a team.

As more and more guests are booking more than 1 of our trips we have made special eco-packages. All the eco-packages are combinations of our day (or half-day) trips and the total price will give you a discount. So you will pay less for booking more trips at the same time and still benefit from the high quality nature trips that we are offering. For bigger groups we have special group discounts and please contact us for more information about this. The eco-packages can be found on the page of our trips.

Orange-breasted trogon - photo by Tom Reynolds

We are still very excited about the fact that we now regularly can spot the orange-breasted trogon. What a beauty of a bird is that! Our good friend and great photographer Tom Reynolds made a photo of this bird. We also spotted the plain-backed sparrow in the last birdwatching trips. Every birdwatching trip will start at the Gunung Raya and after 2.5 hours we mostly have already about 20 birds on our list. We have spotted the intermediate egret on Langkawi too. This bird can be distinguished from the great egret by the black spot at the end of his beak. As we did not spot this bird on Langkawi the last years we would really be happy to hear if others have spotted this bird too.

As one of the most important factors for making a successful trip is the quality and knowledge of our staff we are re-arranging the pages about us at this moment. We would like to introduce you on this website to our staff with some background information and a photo of them. We are very proud of having real nature lovers as naturalists working for our company and meeting each other is always full of exchanging information about the latest nature developments (which is never ending..).

We are always looking for new ideas for trips and we regularly are trying out some different things. As we really had in mind to make a boat trip in the southern part of Langkawi (including a few islands to visit) we have made various boat trips. The trips were nice and the scenery was beautiful but to our opinion there was not enough wildlife and nature to talk about to make a trip out of it that will be high quality enough to add to our current trips. So we will keep on looking further and any suggestion for something new will be welcome!

Keep in touch and we will come back to you in our next column.

Dev

 

December 2007/January 2008

Oriental Scops Owl

After two very busy weeks there is finally some time left to keep you updated about the nature of things on nature in Langkawi. The weather is perfect with 32 degrees, a lot of sun and no rain at all so a lot of guests enjoyed their stay on Langkawi and joined one of our trips. In the last weeks we spotted some really nice new birds like the orange-breasted trogon and even the oriental scops owl in the mangroves. The oriental scops owl was on its migratory route and the bird could be seen in the same tree for about one week. We are very happy with the photo one of the guests has sent to us and after checking literature and Internet this is definitely the subspecies Otus sunia malayanus. To give you an idea what birds to expect on Langkawi we have put the bird list on our website; we divided the list in migratory and resident birds which is about 50/50. Most of the migratory birds are coming to Langkawi during the dry season (November – April).

Last month we was curiously surprised although not shocked by seeing a very big, almost pig-tailed macaque size, long-tailed macaque in Belanga Pecah (next to the mangroves). There was a man in the nearby village who kept a male pig-tailed macaque and an adult female long-tailed macaque. Could this be the offspring of the two? Any remarks or answers to this matter are highly appreciated as this is quite a rare phenomenon. Pig-tailed macaques are frequently brought into the island to help with coconut-picking, but we have seen two pig-tailed macaques loose, 1 in Berlanga Pecah and the other up Gunung Raya. In the pictures below notice how straight the hind legs are, also the facial color, being slightly lighter colored. Also notice it has a bigger jawline. Also take note the upturn tail connected to the abdomen. This monkey was living in a troop of long-tailed macaques and was twice the size of the rest.

Macaque
Macaque

Another rare animal to spot is a frog in the mangroves. We know there is one specie of frog that lives in mangroves, but we do not know the scientific name. If anyone could kindly enlighten us after seeing the photo below, please feel free to contact us. It was the first time we saw a frog in the mangroves and we did not see it again the last months.

Mangrove frog

As the dry season has started, there is a lack of water and the deciduous trees on the limestone outcrops have begun to drop their leaves. Also the spathoglottis hardiginia started flowering last month and this wild orchid is only found on Langkawi (see a photo of this flower in the photo gallery).

We really hope to get some feedback from our readers on the monkey and the frog matters mentioned above and we hope to be able to give you some more information about it in our next column!.

Dev

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