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Saturday, 29 December 2007

Angle Head Lizard

Coated with patchy shades of forest green skin, a bizarre turquoise stomach colour with striking yellow spots, a high handsome sail on its head and back, Angle Head Lizard (Gonocephalus grandis), also called Giant Forest Dragon or Giant Angle Head Lizard is an exotic and extremely beautiful reptile found in tropical rain forest of Southeast Asia.

A male angle head lizard

The female angle head lizard

They are however not commonly seen. In fact it is quite rare to encounter them in most of the tropical rain forest. This is partly due to its superb camouflage capability and largely, of their stringent demand for specific environmental conditions. They only found in pockets of areas in a large rain-forested land. Each pocket could be of high population density and you may even find couple of them in one tree. This is also their fatal weak point in surviving. Diseases, prey, illegal collecting, forest clearing, changes of habitat's nature micro-conditions, etc. could wipe out the whole population.

An angle head lizard came out in the morning for first ray of morning sunlight penetrate through the canopy.

Angle head lizard is a perfect potential choice for hobbyist, particularly exotic reptile hobbyist. But, have you ever wonder why such an outstanding candidate almost totally failed so far to gain popularity in pets market? Well, i am glad and relieve that it failed in this aspect. This will make its chances of survivor in its natural habitat brighter.

Basking in a partially shaded branch.

Dear hobbyist, forget about this species in your garden. They won't do well in captivity. They are easily stressed in captive, make your life miserable in trying to keep them, and at the end they will still die and cause heart pain to you due to a burned pocket in acquiring them.

This lizard required extremely high humidity. They only found on the first layer of trees along running stream in thick rain forest. They often sit quietly on branches extended over running stream in the morning, basking in thin rays of sunlight that penetrate through gaps of leaves in higher canopy. They will not bask themselves on top of canopy for full sunlight, it is too hot and dry for them, and very expose to preying animals like birds and monkey. They also demanding for trees infected by parasitic plants on its branches, or branches that overgrown by creepers. These are the sites that collect forest debris, an active bio-activity site. A warm and ideal sites for angle head lizard to deposit their eggs.

A male angle head lizard warming up its body and will soon look for his breakfast (insects).

A male angle head lizard in a mating mode. The colour turned reddish at certain parts of the body. Also note the broken sail on its back, the result from fighting with other males. The dominant one wins the mate.

A female angle head lizard that will cause a big fights amongst males during mating seasons.

A video showing the wild angle head lizards, both male and female in their natural habitat.

All the above angle head lizard pictures and video were taken in a rain forest at their natural habitat in Kedah, a northern state of Malaysia.
Hey guys, forget about the idea of keeping them as pet. I know this species sometime is on sale on inter net. They are mostly wild caught from Southeast Asia. Believe me, they won't survive well in your cage no matter what. They will stressed to death once you take them away from their natural habitat. If you insist, you need to "de-stress" them. They need to see the forest and the stream, to hear the running water below them, to feel the humidity, ...... Meaning to say, you need to have the whole tropical rain forest with running streams and all other required natural conditions at home. Can you afford it?

Tuesday, 25 December 2007

Selfish Ants

Ants, generally thought to be a communal creature, supposedly operate in an unified entity within a colony. Cooperate amongst themselves on daily chores such as nest building, cleaning and repairing, food searching, feeding of queens and babies, ward off intruders, fight ants from other colonies, etc.

Well, ever wonder how disciplined ants as an individual? Is there naughty ant that violate house rules? Is there any bad guys amongst them in a colony?

Human are supposedly a communal creature too, and the most intelligent one. But we all know there are bad guys amongst us. Greedy, selfish, cruel, dishonest, violence, uncooperative, jealousy, ...and many more ugly persanalities are just some examples of "normal" characters found amongst human.

The following video captured the selfish part of the ants. Several ants are pulling an earthworm found on a tropical rain forest floor in Malaysia. They are not pulling it in one direction towards the nest for sharing, but trying to get their own share. Ants that successfully get a chunk of the worm will run to a hidden place to enjoy it himself. Perhaps this is just a "human" part of the ants.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Luffa Sponge

Sponge gourd, rag gourd or the luffa gourd is a type of gourd my farmer friend Leong Kah Ho plants beside the paddy that he works. "It is an easy part time task with fruitful result." He said with a cherish smile.
He harvests the fibrous matured gourd, skin, wash and dry them. This is one of the many other activities he carries out part time after returns from the paddy. He sometime sells the dried sponges at local market, or gives them to charity body for charity sales.

The Luffa (Loofah or Loofa) sponge is commonly used in Southeast Asia countries as a general scrub in kitchen. Ideal for dish washing or anything that needs scrubbing without scratching the surface. Non-stick cookware is one of the example.

The Luffa sponge is also used for bathing, and it is called bathing sponge or shower sponge. Many commercial bath houses do provide it as a natural scrub for clients. It is very good and effective for gentle removal of surface dead skin.

Kah Ho proudly showing how he harvests the Luffa gourd directly from the plant, skin it in a few seconds, shake off the seeds and wash it. The sponge will be ready for use after drying.

The harvested gourds ready to be skinned.

The sponges are dry under hot sun.

Kah Ho collects the seeds for next sowing season. The seeds can also be grind into powder and used as a traditional remedy for high blood pressure.

Bathing in the last beam of setting sun, Kah Ho gathering the dried sponges ready for sales in night market.

Monday, 10 December 2007

Asian Tsunami

3 years ago. 26th December 2004. Have you forgotten this date?

On this day, at the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, Local time 07:58:53, a magnitude 9.1 to 9.3 earthquake has shaken the entire planet.

A series of devastating tsunamis with waves up to 30m high were triggered, it hit along the coasts of most landmasses bordering the Indian Ocean. At least 230 000 people were killed. This is the 9th deadliest natural disaster in modern history.

The quake was the 2nd largest ever recorded on a seismograph. It also had the longest duration of faulting ever recorded, between 8.3 to 10 minutes. Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand and Myanmar were badly hit.

Vegetation stripped by the tsunami near Lhoknga, Indonesia.

Tsunami hitting holiday beaches in Thailand.

Tsunami swept away everything on its way. (Khao Lak, Thailand).

Bodies washed up on the beach, Khao Lak, Thailand.

With tears in the eyes, people searching for their love ones.

Karl Nilson, a Swedish boy, asking for help to find his missing parents and brothers.

The injured.

Let us not forgetting this day.....

Let our thought be with the victims.....