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Borneo...Dane Hodges in the old rainforest
Monday, January 16, 2012 - 6:28 PM

Borneo... Dane Hodges in the old rainforest  

Dane Hodges in rainforest canopy, Borneo

The Borneo rainforest is 130 million years old, making it the oldest rainforest in the world and 70 million years older than the Amazon rainforest. Borneo is very rich in biodiversity compared to many other areas (MacKinnon et al. 1998). There are about 15,000 species of flowering plants with 3,000 species of trees (267 species are dipterocarps), 221 species of terrestrial mammals and 420 species of resident birds in Borneo (MacKinnon et al. 1998). It is also the centre of evolution and radiation of many endemic species of plants and animals. Subject to mass deforestation, the remaining Borneo rainforest is one of the only remaining natural habitat for the endangered Bornean Orangutan. It is also an important refuge for many endemic forest species, as the Asian Elephant, the Sumatran Rhinoceros, the Bornean Clouded Leopard, the rare Hose's Civet and the Dayak Fruit Bat. An important reserve for elephants and rhinos is Tabin Wildlife Reserve in the northeastern corner of Borneo.

Mt Kinabalu, Borneo

Borneo is surrounded by the South China Sea to the north and northwest, the Sulu Sea to the northeast, the Celebes Sea and the Makassar Strait to the east, and the Java Sea and Karimata Strait to the south. It is the largest island in the Malay archipelago, with an area of 743,330 square kilometres (287,000 sq mi). To the west of Borneo are the Malay Peninsula and Sumatra. To the south is Java. To the east is Sulawesi, and to the northeast, the Philippines.

Dane Hodges in rainforest, Borneo

Borneo's highest point is Mount Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia, with an elevation of 4,095 m (13,435 ft) above sea level. It is the third highest peak in South East Asia, making Borneo the world's third highest island.

The largest river system is the Kapuas in West Kalimantan. With a length of 1,143 km (710 mi), it is the longest river in Indonesia. Malaysia's longest river, the Rajang, lies in Sarawak and is 562.5 km (349.5 mi) long. Other major rivers include the Barito in South Kalimantan (880 km long (550 mi)) and the Mahakam in East Kalimantan (980 km long (610 mi).

Borneos 2nd favorite monkey

Borneo has significant cave systems. Clearwater Cave, for example, has one of the world's longest underground rivers. Deer Cave is home to over three million bats, with guano accumulated to over 100 metres (330 ft) high.

Borneo has 19,800,000 inhabitants (in mid 2010), a population density of 26 inhabitants per square km. Most of the population lives in coastal cities, although the hinterland is occupied at most in small towns and villages along the rivers. The population mainly consists of Malays, Banjar, Chinese and Dayak ethnic groups. The Chinese, who make up 29% of the population of Sarawak and 17% of total population in West Kalimantan, originally migrated from southeastern China.

Dane Hodges in rainforest canopy, Borneo

The majority of the population in Kalimantan is either Muslim or practice animism. Approximately 91% of the Dayaks are Christian, a religion introduced by missionaries in the 19th Century. In Central Kalimantan there is also a small Hindu minority. In the interior of Borneo are also the Penan, some of who still practice a nomadic hunter-gatherer existence. In some coastal areas of marginal settlements are also found Bajau, who were historically associated with a sea-oriented, boat-dwelling, nomadic existence. In the northwest of Borneo, the Dayak ethnic group is represented by the Iban with about 710,000 members.

Pygmy elephant in the wild, Borneo

There are over 30 Dayak sub-ethnic groups living in Borneo, making the population of this island one of the most varied of human social groups.[citation needed] Some sub-ethnicities are now represented by only 30-100 individuals and are threatened with extinction. Ancestral knowledge of ethnobotany and ethnozoology is useful in drug discovery (for example, bintangor plant for AIDS) or as future alternative food sources (such as sago starch for lactic acid production and sago maggots as a protein source). Certain indigenous Dayak people (such as the Kayan, Kenyah, Punan Bah and Penan) living on the island have been struggling for decades for their right to preserve their environment from loggers and transmigrant settlers and colonists.

Borneo rainforest 2011

 Kalimantan was the focus for an intense transmigration program that financed the relocation of poor landless families from Java, Madura, and Bali. In 2001, transmigrants made up 21% of the population in Central Kalimantan. Since the 1990s, violent conflict has occurred between some transmigrant and indigenous populations; in Kalimantan, thousands were killed in fighting between Madurese transmigrants and the indigenous Dayak people.

Dane Hodges in Borneo

It is one of the most biodiverse places on earth. The World Wildlife Fund has stated that 361 animal and plant species have been discovered in Borneo since 1996, underscoring its unparalleled biodiversity. In the 18 month period from July 2005 until December 2006, another 52 new species were found.


Rainforest canopy, Borneo

The three million people of Sabah are as diverse as the ecology. There are three main groups of indigenous people. The largest group is the Kadazandusun, making up one third of the population. They live mainly on the West Coast to the interior and were formerly the main rice producers. They have souls and spirits that must be appeased from time to time through specific rituals. In these modern times, some of the rituals are less performed accept during certain festivities.

Dane Hodges in rainforest, Borneo

Along with the Suluk, Irranun, Binadan and Obian people, the Bajau landed on Sabah's shores around 200 years ago. Once regarded as sea gypsies because of their seafaring ways in the past, many have settled down to a more sedentary life of rice farming and cattle breeding. Their riding skills on ponies have earned these Bajau the nickname "Cowboys of the East" and their colourful costumes (as well as those of their ponies) are greatly admired.
The Murut (meaning hill people) inhabit the interior and southeastern parts of Sabah and the territory straddling the Kalimantan and Sarawak borders. Many still occupy the traditional Longhouses. Once feared as fearless headhunters the Murut these days have abandoned much of their age-old traditions especially headhunting. They are also very skilled in hunting with blowpipe.

KK sunsets ain't bad, Borneo

The Chinese, who migrated in great numbers to Sabah during the early years of the North Borneo Chartered Company era, make up a large portion of the non-indigenous people. Living mostly in and around city areas, they engaged themselves primarily in the commercial sectors of the economy. Unofficially, Sabah is also home to an estimated 700,000 strong Filipino population due to lax immigration controls and poor policing of the Malaysia-Philippines national border
Resulting from this multicultural society is a year full of festivals and colourful ceremonies.

One bad bird, Borneo

Situated on the northeast side of the island of Borneo, Sabah is smaller than its sister state, Sarawak. The southern part of the island, called Kalimantan, belongs to Indonesia. The state capital is Kota Kinabalu, formerly known as Jesselton. Sabah is generally mountainous, with the Crocker range of central mountains varying in height from about 1,000 meters to 3,000 meters, which at its peak of Mount Kinabalu rises up to 4095 meters, and with several lower ranges of hills near the coasts. 




Dane Hodges in rainforest canopy, Borneo

Kinabalu Park

Dane Hodges in Borneo

Malaysia’ First World Heritage Site near Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

Dane Hodges at mt Kinabalu, Borneo

Kinabalu National Park is arguably one of Sabah’s most popular nature attractions, enticing most visitors to Sabah to either climb the mountain, relish the park’s cool, fresh air, soak in the hot water springs or discover unusual plant and animal life.

The park is so diverse, not just in fauna and flora, but also in ways to explore it, that anything is possible; from a short, hour long visit, to spending 3 days or more and not see it all. You’ll find more information about Kinabalu National Park below.

Worlds largest flower, Borneo

This great mountain is an icon of natural history and successful conservation whilst maintaining its position as one of the most accessible of high mountains to climb. Many people visit the mountain on bird watching trips as the variety of bird life is extraordinary.

Rising to 4,095m it is one of the highest peaks in South East Asia, and the highest in Malaysia and Borneo. As part of the protected Kinabalu National Park of some 753.7, its biological diversity has captivated scientists the world over.

Water Village, KK, Borneo

The park was established in 1964 before the droves of tourists began to visit. Restrictions were put in place, which kept general visitation to only some parts and routes, which to this day has kept human activities in the area to a minimum, while still offering the visitor plenty to see.

Kinabalu National Park or Taman Negara Kinabalu in Malay, was designated Malaysia’s first World Heritage Site by UNESCO in December 2000 for its “outstanding universal values” and the role as one of the most important biological sites in the world.


Geologists reveal the story of the mountain began 40 million years ago, when the north-western area of Sabah was still part of the sea basin. At this time marine sediments were accumulating and forming layers over the earth’s crust.

Zones of weakness allowed molten granite material to be pushed upwards, at the same time forming what is now known at the Crocker Range and Trus Madi Highlands of Sabah.

Borneo river croc

Mount Kinabalu was born only 1.5 million years ago when this mass of granite rock began to rise and break through the overlying crusts of softer rocks.

It is thought that 100,000 years ago the mountain was probably several hundred metres higher than today when ice-caps crowned the summit. Erosion by heavy rains, ice and glaciers shaped the new mountain.

Kinabalu itself is still rising, one estimate is 5mm per year and the landslides on its slopes and rock debris beneath its peaks are evidence of the still-continuing erosion.

KK harbor, Borneo

Dane Hodges with Mom, Borneo

Dane Hodges in rainforest canopy, Borneo

Together with the summit pinnacles, the other major feature of Kinabalu’s massif is the awe-inspiring chasm of Low’s Gully, falling almost 912m from the summit plateau.  Most of Kinabalu’s stunning flora and fauna is unique to the area and found nowhere else in the world. Such as the Rafflesia, the largest flower in the world and certain Nepenthes (pitcher plant) and more than 1,000 species of orchids.

Borneo probascus monkey

Ooch Borneo dart

Dane Hodges in rainforest canopy, Borneo

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