August 2006

BY ANGELA HIJJAS

I spent last weekend at the trustees’ retreat for WWF Malaysia in the rainforest of Belum. Despite many hours spent in meetings, we managed some brief expeditions into the jungle. The Lantern Bug, pictured right, was spotted during one such walk.

Lantern bug seen during a walk in Belum rainforest.

The elaborately patterned Lantern Bug (Fulgora spinolae) uses its strange elongated forehead as a sense organ and for balance. It is one of a small group of brightly coloured insects, the lantern bugs, that are particularly diverse in the Belum-Temengor rainforest.

A few days after my return from Belum, on the morning of 17 August, a large python was found stuck in the well at Rimbun Dahan. On placing an escape route of a wooden stake in the well, the snake had escaped by the afternoon. Just goes to show that to see some large wildlife, you don’t have to be in the jungle!

“Reticulated python, Python reticulatus, the longest of all snakes, attains a maximum length of between 10 and 15 m. Its normal prey consists of warm blooded animals from chickens, pigs, goats and monkeys to small deer which it can subdue. The prey is swallowed whole; the snakes’ jaws are not rigidly joined and thus can be stretched wide to accommodate bulky food items. Normally found in the jungle, especially close to water, also in rural and urban settlements. Small pythons can easily be captured and tamed, but adults are dangerous as they can deliver vicious bites, and their powerful coils may be too much for a man to handle. The female python lays from 20 to 50 eggs, rarely up to 100. The eggs adhere together in a mass, which the female coils around and incubates for a period of between 75 and 90 days. Baby pythons look similar to adults and measure about 60 cm in length.”

Fascinating Snakes of Southeast Asia – An Introduction, by Francis Lim Leong Keng and Monty Lee Tat-Mong.