The Flora and Fauna of Lundu Area

(in progress)

I have never been able to see everything that lives around here, but I have seen much, and the following is a selected list, with names in Iban:


•Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus) - burunglang  (NB: "burung" means "bird"; usually prefixed to bird names in Iban.)
•Bushy-Creasted Hornbill ( Anorrhinus galeritus) - burung babi  One day I was working in our back yard, and from the jungle I heard a creaking, cackling, harsh coughing noise.  At first I thought, "It's those damn monkeys after the corn again"; but I then I heard calls coming from several directions out of the jungle, I looked up and saw a flock of five Burung Babi flying around through the trees.  Hornbills, right in our backyard!  A very heartening sight, because it means the local forest is healthy enough to support them.
•Coucal (Centropus sinensis Stephens) - burung bubut  Keeps close to the ground, and makes a deep "boot-boot-boot" hoot.
•Greater Racket-tailed Drongo (Dicrurus paradiseus L.) - burung kempat tiang  This bird has the two outermost of its tail feathers elongated into naked quills almost as long again as the bird itself and ending in little tufts of feather.  This tail makes the drongo something like the Fokker Triplane of the Borneo bird-world: it's not very fast, but boy can it climb and maneuver!  And although the Drongo is all black, like the Red Baron it is a brave bird.  I have several times seen drongos harrass raptors, flying circles around them and pecking them.  For this reason, though the Drongo is not an omen bird, the Ibans respect them.  Their call sounds like someone banging on a pipe.
•Hill mynah (Gracula religiosa L.) - burung tiong   Pleasant to hear their swooping in the mornings.  If you whistle at them, they'll whistle back.  I have heard of two or three mynahs who "adopted" people and came to live in their houses.  They fly in pairs, male and female, I presume.
•Long-tailed Parakeet  ( Psittacula longicauda) - burung bayan  Greenish.  The male has a long blue central spike in his tail.  They often fly in flocks, and if a flock flies low and fast over you, you hear a loud whooshing sound like some airplane.
•Sunda Frogmouth (Batrachostomus cornutus?) - burung pama'  One night I was sleeping in my father-in-law's house and I heard a loud croak outside the window.  Next day I looked out at the frangipani (cempaka) tree.  A short, rough, thick leafless branch resolved itself into a little bird, miraculously camouflaged with its feathers checkered randomly with grey, black, and white.  As I observed over the day, this was a well-grown chick.  Its mother visited it at long intervals.  The chick sat motionless all day, two or three days, and then left.

No pictures?  Sorry!  I have found birds impossible to photograph with the equipment I've got.


•bearded pig (Sus barbatusbarbatus Müller) - babi kampong ("forest pig")
•mousedeer (Tragulus javanicus ) - pelandok

Count Fruitula

This  is one fruit bat (probably Cynopterus brachyotis) of a bunch that came around one night to munch on the soursops (Anona muricata).

(your basic monkey) ( Maccaca fascicularis) - kera'   Your basic monkey.  They can be a real nuisance when they raid gardens and eat the corn.  I have shot at them but never hit one.

•porcupine (Hystrix brachyura longicauda Marsden) - landak.  Sebuyau landai.
Monitor lizards; house-lizards (chichak and kokgo).  Flying lizards...   Look carefully here,it's resting on an orchid leaf----
 flying lizard

Snakes--vipers, cobras, pythons...  and benign snakes.  Frogs, toads,

Sea-fish: mackerel of many sorts, most extremely yummy.   Sharks, rays, giant sunfish giant sunfish(see picture ), red snappers, parrotfish, etc.
Freshwater fish: ikan keli, catfish, minnows (ikan seluang)
I've counted two dozen kinds of ants at least around the house and garden but I can't give scientific identifications of them except for two, which happen to be two kinds that bite, and so are more noticeable:  Weaver ant (Oecophylla smaragdina Fabr.) - kesa' a red ant that builds nests in trees of leaves it stitches together; the pain of its bite is not too sharp and lasts momentarily.  Fire ant (Tetraponera rufonigra) - semada'.  This is a small black ant that marches in lines and whose bite is very sharp, painful, and lasting.  People say they can kill animals as large as geese when they swarm on one.

My son, on his birthday, received from his cousin the present of a huge and spectacular beetle.  sam & beetle  This is probably Calchosoma caucasus, the second largest beetle in Malaysia, and it is male.  A female found it three weeks later and it was love at first site.  The female disappeared, and we hope her eggs have success.two beetles
We understand that the Japanese enjoy keeping big beetles as pets.  Stick them on a hunk of fruit and they stay there--the refrigerator-magnet as pet.

One evening a longicorn beetle flew up and sat on our kitchen window. Longicorns are the genus of  beetles that A.R. Wallace collected so intensively in Sarawak during his visit in the 1850s. I haven't identified it.

Lundu has its very own tree, Shorea lunduensis Ashton.  [Click for a botanical description.] This is a type of engkabang, a dipterocarp which bears big oily seeds with "wings" on them.  Here on the left is a picture of such seeds from a different species of engkabang, Shorea macrophylla.   Needless to say, the fact that it is so local doesn't prevent people from logging them.
engkabang seedsbelian seeds

Sarawak boasts a very special tree which Dayaks call belian (Eusideroxylon spp.), and has often been called "ironwood" by the old English writers.  The timber from this tree is so heavy it sinks in water, and is immune to rot, termites, and other insects.  Belian is the wood of choice for posts and beams in houses, and roofs made of belian shingles (it splits finely and neatly) may last 60 years and more.  Old posts from abandoned houses can be found in the jungle over 100 years old, still perfectly sound.  In both engkabang and belian seeds, note their size.  There is little topsoil in tropical rainforest, and thus tree-seeds contain large amounts of starch to feed the young plant until it it esstablished.

All around the house we have planted fruit trees.  The divine durian, of course. (Take a look at my Durian Page .) Also soursops, rambutans, breadfruit and tarap (both species of Artocarpus), citrus of several varieties, including lemons, green tangerines, little things for which there is no word in English but are called limau kasturi here, and pomelos.  Here's one of our breadfruits.  The trees yielded plentifully this year, 2004.
Lundu also has its own orchid, Orkid Lundu (sometimes called Orkid Normah), Phalaenopsis violacea.

 orkid lundu

wild orchid

Wild orchids grow along the roads, on the ground, in the hot sunshine.  Lucy transplanted a few to our house.
Cycads, or as Sam calls them, "dinosaur food," also grow in Sarawak, whether wild or not I don't know.  We found one and  and planted it in front of the house.cycad

A mushroom with a lacy veil around it, known as Butoh antu raya ("the Big Demon's penis," unidentified) pushes up often after rains.  It's poisonous.  The Sebuyau, call it, a tad more delicately, kemi antu raya, "Antu Raya's urine."
  butoh antu raya

No list of plants would be complete without the two most important economic crops here in Lundu, rice (Oryza sativa) and pepper.  Many people in our kampong of Stunggang, and in other kampongs, grow rice.  It's not that they have to, although a hundred kilos or so of rice certainly is a clear help in income, but that Dayaks love their own traditional rice.  Father John Lewis Zehnder, priest at Christchurch, Stunggang over a hundred years ago collected and named 80 different varieties.  (To see Fr. Zehnder's letter to the Sarakwak Gazette concerning his rice collection, click HERE.)  Apart from that homegorwn rice simply tastes much better than commercial rice, Dayak truly enjoy growing rice, and love the land they grow it upon. They have doing this in loving fashion for thousands of years.  The rice -field below sits right next to our house, and is cultivated by my wife's uncle's family.


A note on rice terminology: rice seed, or rice when it's in the field is called padi.  Threshed and hulled rice is called beras.  Cooked rice is called asi (in Malay nasi, as in nasi goreng, "fried rice").

The other important economic crop is pepper, Piper nigrum.  Many families, both Dayak and Chinese, grow pepper for sale.  Sarawak is a major world producer of pepper.  Our neighbors, Martin anak Lianghi and Maria Amoy, plant pepper and these photos I took in their garden.
pepper 1                     pepper 2

Rubber is much less important than it used to be.