Borneo’s Must-see Flora

I’ll be the first to admit that compared to wildlife and birds, plants do not interest me much. But I would definitely make an exception for these spectacular flora of Borneo.

Rafflesia keithii

Rafflesia keithii

1. Rafflesia

This flower needs no introduction. The largest flower in the world (it grows up to 1m), rafflesia species can only be found in South East Asia. Its short blooming period (5 to 7 days) and inaccessible habitat (deep in the rainforest) means that a sighting of this flower makes you a very lucky person. The best place to see one of these giants is around Poring Hot Springs, which has the largest concentration of known rafflesia sites in the world.

Nepenthes rajah

Nepenthes rajah

2. Nepenthes rajah

Another must-see for flora enthusiasts is the Nepenthes rajah, the largest pitcher plant in the world. It is so big that rats, frogs and lizards have been found in its pitcher. Endemic to Mount Kinabalu and Mount Tambuyukon in Kinabalu Park, Sabah, the place to see this is at Mesilau Resort.

Rothschild's Slipper Orchid

Rothschild’s Slipper Orchid

3. Paphiopedilum rothschildianum

The most expensive flower in Borneo, this species of slipper orchid is endemic to Kinabalu Park. Its location in the wild is limited to 2 sites, both of which are kept secret, to prevent people from getting their hands on these beautiful flowers. A cultivated plant can sometimes be seen inside the botanical garden in Kinabalu Park.

Podochilus microphyllus

Podochilus microphyllus

4. Podochilus orchid

Not all things in Borneo are gigantic. This orchid is one of the smallest in the world, and is quite common around the trails in Kinabalu Park, that is if you can find it.

Rafflesia can cause liver, spleen failure

Sourced from The Star

UKM study finds Rafflesia can cause liver, spleen failure

KUALA LUMPUR: Clinical tests on mice have shown that traditional medicine using the Rafflesia flower can have adverse effects on the liver and spleen, claims a Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) senior lecturer.

Dr Nazlina Ibrahim, of the university’s School of Biosciences and Biotechnology, said Masters student Khairunnadwa Jemon’s research found that the internal organs of white mice, which had delivered offspring and were given compounds of buds of the Rafflesia for 14 days, had become smaller.

She said traditional medicine using the flower were usually consumed by women who had just delivered to shrink their uterus and by men, supposedly for sexual strength.

Dr Nazlina said in an article in the university’s news portal that the research by Khairunnadwa, under her supervision, found that the liver managed to detoxify ingredients from the buds of the Rafflesia azlanii.

“But this process also shrank the liver from its original size. The experiment thus confirmed that ability of the flower buds. But the risks to other vital organs being affected also exists, that is, the liver,” said Dr Nazlina in the article.

She said woman who have been drinking water boiled with the buds of the Rafflesia for after-birth treatment needed to seriously consider the adverse and dangerous effects.

Dr Nazlina said the level of toxicity seen in the study should be a warning to people taking jamu since the use of parts of the Rafflesia azlanii as a source of traditional medicine was not safe.

“If one wants to reduce weight, one should have a balanced diet and exercise. These are more effective and safe,” she said.

Dr Nazlina said the public should also avoid destroying the beautiful Rafflesia flower, which has become an icon in Malaysia’s tourism industry, for slimming purposes and, in the process, endanger themselves.

The Rafflesia, famed as the biggest flower in the world, is a rare plant from the Rafflesiaceae family group but is seldom seen in tropical rain forests, she said, adding that it is actually an obligatory parasite and a creeper of the genus Tetrastigma (Vitaceae).

It lives for between two and three years but the flower blooms for a few days only before shrinking and decaying, and its uniqueness and beauty attracts many nature lovers, researchers and tourists from within the country and abroad.

She said research on the use of funds from the Rafflesia Rehabilitation Scheme in Taman Kinabalu found that the returns per year from the Rafflesia eco-tourism industry was much higher than if the same land area was used for agricultural purposes.

The Rafflesia has for generations been used as an ingredient of traditional medicine, and the buds of the flower can be bought for between RM9 and RM25, depending on the size. — Bernama

Crocker Range Park, the backbone of Sabah

Where? Keningau, Sabah

What? Highland, Jungle-trekking, Camping, Rafflesia

Ratings: ***

Lost Ratings: ****

Giant Tree - CRP 20090613 02

If you are looking for an alternative to the over-visited Kinabalu National Park, Crocker Range Park, on the south-western corner of Sabah, is a good choice. While the Crocker Range Park has been established since 1984, its headquarters was only relatively recently opened in February of 2004. Situated 144km from Kota Kinabalu and 12km from Keningau, the completion of the new road across the park linking Kimanis to Keningau has shortened travel time considerably for those living on the West Coast of Sabah. This has made the park headquarters more accessible, and travellers can now reach the park in less than two hours from KK.
View from CRP - 20090613 01

What is the Crocker Range Park?

With an area of 139,919 hectares, the Crocker Range Park is the largest national park in Sabah. The namesake of the park, Crocker Range, is a huge mountain range that separates the east coast and west coast of Sabah. It is the highest mountain range in Sabah, with an average height of 1800m, and includes Mount Kinabalu. Two of the three highest mountains in Malaysia are located in Crocker Range. The northern part of the range that includes Mount Kinabalu though had been designated as Kinabalu National Park, and Crocker Range Park does not include this part. The park therefore stretches from south of Kundasang in the north to Tenom in the south. Most people’s first view of the Crocker Range Park is when they travel to Tambunan from Penampang. This road passes through the highest point of Crocker Range Park at Gunung Alab (1,964m asl). With a rainfall of 3,000mm to 4,000mm a year, Crocker Range Park is a water catchment area that supplies clean drinking water to people living in the West Coast and Interior districts of Sabah. The western section, especially, is the wettest area in Sabah.

Due to the size of the park, there are a few substations, the most famous being the Rafflesia Centre along the Penampang-Tambunan Road. Other substations include Inobong in Penampang and Mahua in Tambunan. Flora and fauna found in the park include 265 species of birds, 107 species of mammals, 42 species of fresh-water fish and about 500 species of plants (about one-third of the species in Borneo).

What to do in Crocker Range Park Headquarters?

The park headquarters is a wonderful place for jungle-trekking. A 2.5km trail through primary and secondary forest provides for a challenging and invigorating walk. If you are lucky, the world’s largest flower, the rafflesia, might be in bloom. The insectarium gives city-slickers a chance to see and learn about stick insects, leaf insects, rhinoceros beetles, stag beetles and trilobite beetles.

Overnight stays are possible here. These range from a rest house and dormitories to camps. Night jungle walks are also possible with prior arrangement with the rangers. During these night walks, deer and other wildlife can sometimes be spotted.

* For safety purposes, engage in the services of the rangers before partaking in any jungle-trekking activities.

Rafflesia photos

Rafflesia keithii - CRP 20090613 01Rafflesia keithii - CRP 20090613 02Rafflesia keithii - CRP 20090613 06

Insectarium

Stag Beetle at Insectarium - CRP 20090613Leaf Insect female at Insectarium - CRP 20090613Leaf Insect male at Insectarium - CRP 20090613Insectarium - CRP 20090613 01Insectarium - CRP 20090613 02

Crocker Range Nature Information Centre

Crocker Nature Centre display - CRP 20090613 02Crocker Nature Centre display - CRP 20090613 01Crocker Nature Centre - CRP 20090613

Getting here:

By car, it takes about 2 hours from Kota Kinabalu using the Kimanis-Keningau road (passing by Papar). The alternative road is the Kota Kinabalu-Penampang-Tambunan-Keningau road that takes 3.5 hours. If you want to do a loop, it is easier to start from Tambunan and come back via Kimanis as the road in the direction from Kimanis to Keningau has steep inclines of up to 19 degrees. The uphill road to Crocker Range Park is an adventure in itself and the scenery is fantastic.

By public transport, buses and taxis to Keningau will drop you off at the park. Public transportation can be taken at the Padang Merdeka long-distance bus station. For more information, check Sabah Tourism but the rates listed there could be outdated.

Contact: Crocker Range Park 019-8620404

Room Rates:

Rest house (accommodates 6, 3 rooms): RM40 per person per night

Dormitory (accommodates 32): RM20 per person per night

Double bed: RM50 per night

Camping: RM5 per person per night

Entrance fee:

Foreigner (>18) RM10

Foreigner (<18) RM6

Malaysian (>18) RM3

Malaysian (<18) RM1

Opening hours:

Mon-Thu: 0830-1245, 1445-1645

Fri, Sun, Public Holidays: 0830-1130, 1400-1645

Sat: 0830-1300

Tours:

CRP1 –  Crocker Range Park (morning till evening)

CRP2 – Crocker Range Park and River Safari (morning till night)

For tour enquiries, email losttravels@yahoo.com

Trekking - CRP 20090613 Read the rest of this entry »

Sabah’s Top 10 Attractions

Choosing only 10 out of so many wonderful places in Sabah is not easy. The top4 though are easy choices. Reflecting Sabah’s fame as an eco-paradise, all the places listed here are nature-related.

1. Climb Mount Kinabalu

Although climbing a mountain might not appeal to everyone, this is one mountain that you should make an exception for. Relatively easy to climb, the incredible view from the top, the magnificent sunrise and the almost-can-touch starry sky at night are a few of the reasons why this should be top of your to-do-list in Sabah.

long-way-down-mt-kinabalu-20060320-011

2. Dive in Sipadan Island Read the rest of this entry »