Visiting the Orphanage – Sabah Trip#9

February 22, 2016 at 12:19 am | Posted in itchy backside | Leave a comment
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At 9 plus in the morning, the van from Uncle Tan sent us to the nearby Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre, where baby and young orphaned orangutans are rehabilitated.

Entrance tickets for foreigners were RM30, plus RM10 for cameras, a vast price difference from the locals. We skipped the video presentation at the main reception area cos we were late and the room was already quite packed. The morning feeding session would be at 10am.

Tisu-Orang
Tisu Girl posing with her Orangutan tee from Malacca. :p Gotta walk through this boardwalk into the forest to see the orangutans

sign
Most of these orphaned orangutans were victims of illegal pet trade. “Babies are often caught during logging or forest clearance or captured by poachers who slaughter the adult apes to reach them. The Malaysian Government has clamped down on illegal trading, outlawing all such practice and imposing prison sentences on anyone caught keeping them as pets.”

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Signage along the way explaining plight of orphaned orangutans

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“Orangutan” in Malay language means “man of the forest”

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When we reached viewing area, we were a bit disappointed cos we thought the setting would be a little bit more natural…It actually looked like what we see at our Singapore Zoo….

From where we were standing at the viewing platform, we could see a few young orangutans hanging around on the trees…

sleep
Where’s the food….Wait till so sleepy….

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Then, one by one, the orangutans started to move closer to the feeding platform….

feeding
Finally shortly after 10am, a ranger came with his basket of fruits and vegetables…

Actually I didn’t expect they would just leave the food there and watch over the orangutans while they eat…I was expecting to have some sort of commentaries about how they are rehabilitated, the kind of trainings given behind the scene…just like what we see on tv documentaries…Well, maybe they did that on the video presentation, but if people were to miss it, then the experience would really feel like just visiting a zoo…

roar
“Hahaha! Of course TV programs would get special commentaries lah! Dumb dumb!”

pig-tailed
Halfway through feeding came an intruder!

sneaky
Sneaky fellow! Not sure if this Pig-tailed Macaque was also one of the animals at the centre since the website says they provide medical care for a few other wildlife species like sun bears, gibbons, Sumatran rhinos and elephants

In terms of size, he was not much of a difference from the youngsters, but since he was outnumbered, he was very cautious about not having close contact with the orangutans, and would take food that were further from the feasting youngsters.

takeaway
He kept stuffing himself non-stop with the food…See his swollen cheek pouch? He was packing for his lunch later….

Soon, the ranger left them alone, and slowly some orangutans started to climb freely on the rope towards the trees…providing visitors a much closer look at them….

735
See her tattoo on her thigh? I shall call her, “Miss 735” 

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Climbing is one of the most important skills orangutans need to develop, as they are arboreal and will spend their lives high in the rainforest canopy

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At the centre, their natural mother’s teaching is replaced by joining the youngsters with older orphans who will show them the skills they themselves have already learnt. It has proven to be a very successful combination

hanging
See, so acrobatic! Can think on the go! 😀

Once they have developed their climbing and foraging skills, they are eventually released into the surrounding forest reserve to fend for themselves. They spend most of their time in the forest and will sometimes return to the centre for a free meal. So when it is fruiting seasons when naturally growing food is in abundance in the reserve, visitors may not get to see that many or even any orangutans. Although this can be disappointing for those hoping to see the orangutans, it just means that they are not reliant upon the feeding and are able to survive and in a free and natural existence in the reserve.

share
“Yo, can share?”

joking
“Hahah! You must be joking! Look for your own food!”

contribute
You can help these orphaned orangutans too!

We followed the orangutans until they went further deeper into the trees…There are some trails of different distances that visitors could explore but due to time constraint, we didn’t try that. Thought of just chill out at the cafe since it was really a hot day!

tractor-millipede
On the way out, saw this Tractor Millipede….quite big, about the length and thickness of my index finger…about 6cm…ok,…I have short fingers… 😦

entrance
Then we realised the Bornean Sunbear Conservation Centre was just around the corner! But we were left with only one more hour before the van picked us back to Uncle Tan Operation Base at 12.30pm!

admission
There is another entrance fee to the centre….We checked with the lady if one hour was enough for the visit and she said yes….

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Way to observation platform

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After climbing a flight of stairs, right in front of us was a cute Sun Bear on a tree!!!!

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It was the first time Itchyfingers actually saw a Sun Bear on a tree! Usually in the zoos, they are just on the ground walking around or sleeping…never have the luxury of climbing up a tall tree!

tongue-texture
Look at the tongue texture! So cute! Hahah….

Sun bears (Helarctos malayanus) are the smallest bear species and the best tree climber. 

tongue
They may be the small, but they have long tongue of 20-25 cm! They are useful when seeking out for honey in bee hives! Their fondness for honey means they are sometimes named ‘honey bear’ or ‘beruang madu’ in Malay and Indonesian. 

Once found throughout Asia, from India to Vietnam and China to Borneo, their numbers have decreased dramatically due to deforestation, commercial hunting and the pet trade. They are often found in appalling conditions; without a home, a mother, or left to rot in tiny cages. Hence the mission of the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) is to rescue these sun bears and promote their conservation to return sun bears to the forest.”

hug
Bear hug…like a koala! Hahahah….

bear
Looking at us….

curious
Something caught his attention?

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Then he decided he had enough of the tree and started to descend! 

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So agile!

A local researcher there told us that at that time there were 32 bears in six holding pens. Only realised he was actually the CEO and founder of the centre after reading the website! But only this one was opened to visitors. There was only this Sun Bear which was closest to the platform, and another two were further on another tree and much more hidden.

From this observation platform, you could walk a loop around the short boardwalk.

squirrel
Got to see this Prevost’s Squirrel (Callosciurus prevostii pluto) hugging a trunk at a closer range…There was another hyperactive on at the platform

orang
And found this Orangutan high up a tree foraging for fruit! He was supposed to be from the Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre next door but apparently crossed over the boundary….Well, just showed that he was able to take care of himself and hopefully may be on the way to be released in the wild in the near future…

We had to take a last look at the adorable Sun Bear cos we would be transported back to the Operation Base and then to our camp site for the next three days.

The viewing areas opened to public and the boardwalk were actually quite small, so the entry fee was quite expensive if you think about it. But, if the money is able to help these orphaned animals have a better chance of survival and be eventually returned to the wild, then it would be money well spent and worth every cent of it! If you have the chance to visit Sepilok, do drop by these two centers for the Orangutans and Sun bear. By just being there, you would be contributing towards the conservation of these two beautiful animals.

Also see related posts:
>
Where is the Uncle – Sabah Trip#8
Wild Sabah – Sabah Trip#7
The Lost Gardens – Sabah Trip#6
A Close Shave – Sabah Trip#5
Boring Hot Spring – Sabah Trip#4
A Slow Slow Cllimb – Sabah Trip#3
A Different Garden – Sabah Trip#2
So Near Yet So Far – Sabah Trip#1

A Peek Into the Past – Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

April 28, 2015 at 10:38 pm | Posted in itchy mouth | Leave a comment
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Last week, Itchyfingers were among some of those who were invited to a special preview of the new Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum prior to its official opening today, 28 April, in appreciation of our little contribution. The museum has come a long way – possibly dating back to when Singapore was founded. It was last known as the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity and Research (RMBR), which only had a small gallery nestled in one of the obscure Science Block at the University, and was greatly in need of an overhaul and expansion. So it was indeed a good news to finally have a brand new building to house a proper viewing gallery, as well as facilities for its scientists and researchers.

Once you entered the new building at the National University of Singapore, visitors were welcomed by a huge wall mural made from photo collage of the specimens on exhibit…

mural
Part of the mural. Very nice, colourful and vibrant – injecting some life into the otherwise ‘dead’ exhibits…

The highlights of the museum are three much talked-about diplodocid sauropod skeletons, nicknamed “Prince”, “Apollonia” and “Twinky”. Each of them is about 80% complete, making them a rarity in dinosaur discoveries. They were the first thing you would see once you entered the gallery behind a glass wall. But you would have to maneuver your way through the plants section before you could come close to them.

rafflesia
A model of the Rafflesia flower, something Itchyfingers are dying to see in the wild…The unisexual flower may reach over a meter in diameter and weigh over 10kg! 

titan-arum
Another smelly flower that we want to see too! This is a model of the Titan Arum, the “largest unbranched inflorescence in the world, reaching over 3meters in height. The inflorescence blooms at night, releasing an odour of rotting meat that attracts carrion-eating beetles and flies to pollinate it”. Few years back, our Botanical Garden had one, but it kinda withered prematurely, hence we didn’t have the chance to experience the rotting smell…

plants
Some well-preserved Herbarium sheets

black-poplar-mushroom
Some interesting fungi on display. These are Black Poplar Mushroom

From the ground floor main gallery, we could see the dinosaur skeletons, which are considered a rarity for sauropod dinosaurs fossils as two of them come with skulls. These three skeletons were found between 2007 and 2010 in a quarry in a small town of Ten Sleep in the United States and are believed to be part of a herd or even a family. According to reports, the “American sellers had asked for $8 million but the Museum would not say what the final deal was”.

dinos
These dinosaurs, acquired through donated funds, are to be the main attraction of the main gallery – to showcase the diversity and history of life on Earth

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The museum believes that, “as one of the largest animals ever to live on the planet, they are an excellent showpiece to demonstrate extinction events and how life has evolved.”

Not a great fan of dinosaurs, I wasn’t really excited to see the trios though… :p Despite having a new building, somehow, the space available for displaying the trio still feels very small and cramp. I was expecting to be able to really stand further to look at the sheer size of them. To make up for the lack of space, visitors can still view them from the second floor though. There is a light show at regular intervals but personally I thought it was a bit meaningless and doesn’t add any value to the exhibit. :p

dodo
Model of the Dodo – sadly hunted to extinction

display
What attracted Tisu Boy’s attention? I love this display!

turtle-anatomy
Oh my goodness!!! A cut up Reeve’s Turtle!

frog
This Bornean Frogs looks like it’s dancing….Are those eggs on the tummy?

nesting-birds
Unidentified nestling birds…

mud-lobster
Ahhhh…finally see a real Mud Lobster….albeit a dead one…Well…it was once alive! :O

basket-star
Beautiful Basket Star….This specimen has a “100” icon next to the name. Does that mean it is 100 or more years old? Can’t find the legend to the icon…

venus's-flower-basket
Beautiful Venus’s Flower Basket

I like the way they displayed these specimens in nice glass jars and arranged neatly on the shelf. But the names of the specimen were put too far at the extreme left, so whenever you need to find out the name, you have to walk all the way to the left. Why don’t they just label it below? It’s easier to change single labels if they want to change the exhibits, rather than to change the whole panel right? I also don’t really like the tv screen in the middle. Don’t think it is interactive cos no one seems to be touching it…

bobtail-squid
The squids and octopuses specimens were a letdown after looking at the beautiful set ups earlier. This Bobtail Squid could have been made more attractive if only they could spread out the tentacles and make it look as it was floating in the jar, like the frog above…

shells
So nice. Rare-spined Murex (26), Branched Murex (27) and Venus Comb Murex (28)

heart-cockle
Heart Cockles. I have seen photos of them that are brighter in colour…

whip-spider
Whip Spider

horseshoe-crabs
Horsehoe Crabs are actually related to spiders and scorpions, that’s why they are put together

butterflies
Moths and butterflies

lantern-bug
Lantern Bug! Tisu Boy love them!

lantern-bug2
Gorgeous!

green-flying-stick-necroscia-inflata
I prefer the stick insect – so pretty like wearing a dress!

sticks
From left: Cantor’s Stick Insects – bigger female and smaller male (8) and their eggs (9). Right: Malayan Jungle Nymph (10) – fatter green female and male with wings opened; and their bigger eggs

dead-leaf-mantis
Dead Leaf Mantis! So evil-looking yet so intriguing! 😀

cicada
Many kinds of cicadas too!

crustaceans
For prawn lovers…The huge one is the Tiger Prawn, widely reared for food

red-frog-crab
Red Frog Crab. Funny looking. The live one is really red in colour!

urchin
Check out the many sea urchin skeletons….look like a pin cushion….

grouper
How can I missed this Orange-spotted Grouper! Such a big fish! But luckily I saw it at an earlier exhibition some time ago

turtles
Turtles! 

impressed-tortoise
This small one is called Impressed Tortoise! Impressive or not? 😀

black-marsh-turtle
Black Marsh Turtle

reptile
An overview of the reptilian section

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Reptiles….The snakes in jars look like those medicinal snake wine from some Asian countries…hahaha

croc
Croc hatchling…

lizard-embryo
Lizard embryo…wonder which species….

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Cast of Archaeopteryx “Berlin Specimen”. Discovered around 1875, it was the second one found and first with a complete head

birds
The birds specimen were quite a disappointment as most of them were in the “satay stick” form and not preserved in standing or flying position

orang
A sad-looking Orangutan…

orangs
A family of Orangutans with a skeleton reflection on the glass

skeleton
Skeletons of a human and a Bornean Orangutan

sun-bear
Some of the mammal specimens like the Sun Bear family was quite nicely presented, showing the way they live

wild-boars
And showed the colour and pattern variation between the young and adult, like this Wild Boar family

tapir
And this Malayan Tapir family

malayan-tapir
Skull of the tapir

koala
The marsupial that Australia loaned to the Singapore Zoo – Koala

dolphin
The Humpbacked Dolphin skull looked so funny

The Heritage Gallery is located at the upper floor with five exhibit zones that pay homage to the museum heritage. The gallery presents an account of the museum’s development and traces the relationship between Singapore’s development and natural history.

toger
Close up of a tiger skin

leatherback
Leatherback Turtle

The Heritage Gallery’s layout is intentionally styled like an old-school museum with specimens on display in dark wooden cabinets.

bear
Don’t be scared by some of them….wahahah

You can check out the cabinets and drawers for more exhibits and information

bird-of-paradise
Nice display of the Bird-of-Paradise and the Babirusa with illustrations

cream-squirrel
Tisu Boy’s contribution – a printed copy of his painting of this Cream-coloured Giant Squirrel sits in one of the cabinets

Itchyfingers spent less than 2 hours in the museum, a rather short time for our liking cos our free and easy tour started about 3.50 pm. Our tummies were beginning to make noise so we had to cut short our visit. Was a little disappointed that they didn’t put up more specimens for exhibit. Hopefully there will either be rotating exhibits or new ones will be added later, or even better still, new gallery space will be created in the 7-storey building. There are many more interesting specimens not featured here and if you are really interested in plants, animals and natural history, a visit to the new the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum is definitely highly recommended! Check their website for ticketing details, as you can’t just pop by any time you wish and get tickets on the spot! A little inconvenient, but let’s see if they will adjust this later on.

whale
Nice way of presenting the founding benefactors

Also see related posts:
> The Raffles Museum of Biodiversity and Research
> Hunters & Collectors – The Origins of the SouthEast Asian Collection

Secrets of the Fallen Pagoda

April 3, 2014 at 12:25 pm | Posted in itchy fingers | Leave a comment
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The capital of Tang China (618-907), Chang’an (present day Xi’an), was a hub for economic and cultural exchange. One of the most revered Buddhist sites in China was the Famen Temple. But for more than 1000 years, a finger relic of the Buddha and many gold, silver, ceramic pieces from the Tang dynasty lied forgotten within an underground crypt in the temple, only to be rediscovered in 1987 when the temple pagoda was being repaired.

camel
China at that time not only became prosperous and powerful, but also culturally diverse. This was mainly due to trade with foreign lands through the Silk Route to Central Asia. Camels were highly valuable in these arid lands, transporting goods and food

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Ceramic camels excavated from Tang tombs are usually the Two-humped Bactrians, known to be resistant to cold weather. They are often accompanied by figures of foreigners

horse
Nice horse figurine…

Tang tombs were supplied with objects thought to be of use to the deceased, with ceramic figures being a key feature

guardian
A lion tomb guardian. Pairs of guardian beasts were typically placed outside the tomb chamber or in niches along the entrance passageway

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Figures dating to the earlier Tang period are generally simpler in form, and one of the pair often has a clearly distinguishable human face…Wow…this looks a bit scary and forbidding….more so than the lion….It actually reminded me of the Egyptian Sphinx…

zodiac
An interesting set of figurines depicting the 12 zodiac animals….but some of them a bit tough to decipher…wahahah….

I like these four miniature Buddhist figures made with gilded bronze…

figure
These collections of small statues were very likely buried to save them from being melted down during the intermittent periods of Buddhist persecutions during the Northern Dynasties and Tang periods….

figure2
I find this cute…hahahah…

figure3
The third one

figure4
Wow, he has three more little figures above him..nice…hahaha

But this has to be my favourite piece….It was what attracted me to the exhibition…. :p

turtle
A beautiful turtle-shaped container! This is featured on the promotional leaflet…The shell is the lid and it is probably used to store tea powder

emboss
Oh while you are at the gallery hall, do pick up this activity sheet and try embossing the various designs on it…I love the turtle one! So much details! 🙂 Oh, remember to press hard enough to get the full picture…hahaha

turtle2
The most beautiful feature of this pitcher is the tortoise-shaped rivet on the handle, which rotates…

coffin
A coffin-shaped reliquary carved from a single block of jade. It is thought to have held the genuine finger bone relic of the Buddha. Er, that’s up to you to believe…but I thought only a grasshopper or cricket can fit into the little casket …so small….wahahahah…. 😀 There is another made from bronze on exhibit

jug-w-faces
I find this jug with faces unique. The silk routes brought traders, pilgrims and envoys from near and far. The Chang’an capital during the Tang dynasty became a cosmopolitan city. “This cast bronze jug is one of the most enigmatic objects excavated in China in recent years. It relates to pottery of Iran and of Khotan, a city in southwestern China. Both areas were on the Silk Route, connecting Tang China to Central Asian and beyond.”

hairpin
The fanciful and complex hairdos of Tang women often involved the use of wigs, which made hairpins a vital accessory. Hairpins also served as status symbols. So the higher one social’s rank, the more hairpins one was entitled to wear….Er, of course lah, poor people how to buy so many gold hairpins like this? Wahahahahah….

beauty2
Ahhh…the Tang beauty….er…no hairpin leh!?! Wahahah….But there is this tiny hole on her bun which might be where the hairpin was supposed to be….

beauty
Tang women are so lucky….they are considered beauties when they are so chubby with slits for eyes and look of a certain Asia leader…wahahah….This looks like the bee-hive hairstyle from the 60s…hahhaah….

bun
Some women have double bun….

beauty3
She looks like she has a snake head on her….hahah….

fan
You can pick up a paper fan and doll up your own Tang beauty! Wahahah….

The Secrets of the Fallen Pagoda – Treasures from Famen Temple and the Tang Court is ongoing at the Asian Cilivisation Museum until the 4 May. Admission is $8.

Also see related post:
Tales from the Tomb – Terracotta Warriors: The First Emperor and His Legacy

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