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Exploring Forest Research Institute Malaysia

FRIM, Selangor, Peninsular Malaysia

By Matt Salleh

In our continuing efforts to learn more about the local environs, my colleagues and I visited FRIM on the weekend of October 26th 2002. FRIM is a 60 some-odd year old secondary growth rainforest. The results of the re-forestation experiment are encouraging...Flying Lemurs, binturong, wild pigs, pangolin, birds galore, civet, reptiles and amphibians have migrated back into the area.

We had a great day.. toured a trail, had lunch and walked in the canopy via their 150m suspension walkway. Add the Gold Whiskered Barbet (Megalaima mystacophanos) - large and bulky green bird with a wide bill and the Scarlet Backed Flowerpecker (Dicaecum cruentatum)- a tiny bird with a bright red back to my growing list of birds seen in SE Asia.

The first few hundred meters

We met at the Malaysian Nature Society Nature Education Center. Within a few minutes I spotted a couple of hundred ants pulling a cicak around (pronounced = cheechak), a common house gecko, for a 'light' snack. They didn't appear to have a foreman in charge...they were pulling from all angles and making no progress.

I called everyone over and said, "Hey, you wanna see something cool?" One of my colleagues, a 4th grade teacher said, "You wanna know what I think is cool? I think it's cool that YOU think this stuff is cool!"

Habitats to be explored

We walked a few hundred meters and spotted Raquet Tailed Drongos, Black Naped Orioles, what was possibly an Olive-backed Woodpecker, and a Barbet, all sitting within a few meters of each other. We also spotted this cool hive of activity... a nest of stingless, biteless wasps.

Gary Speaks

Our guide from the Malaysian Nature Society was very informative. Here he's talking about the huge dipterocarp trees and the buttresses they have which help support their huge biomass during frequent rain storms. If you look to his right you can spot the bracket fungi...home to the alien landscape of beetles in the previous photos.

On the trail

We walked into the secondary growth forest and were amazed by the diversity and health of the once disturbed ecosystem. We walked streamside for most of the trip. Not too far into the woods we stopped creekside to investigate the flora and fauna. I turned over a few rocks and found some dragonfly larvae. Gary scooped up some water and revealed a water scorpion! WOW! I had only read about them, it was my first up close encounter with such an elusive critter. It was beautiful, amazing, and well adapted to it's aquatic life.

On top of the trees

It took about another 1/2 an hour to reach the canopy walk. We were tired and sweaty. We listened to the safety talk given by the Canopy Walk Officer and then inched our way out into the canopy. We were treated to a view usually reserved for the resident Scarlet Minivets, squirrels and Macaques. It was late in the day, so not much animal activity, although we managed to spot a few Giant Squirrels dancing in the treestops. We also saw lots of butterflies flittering about and birds darting around.

The breeze was blowing the canopy which enhanced the thrill of being so high into the trees. After a short rest and some time to soak in the beauty of the Malaysian rainforest, we walked back down the trail to the Malaysian Nature Society Nature Education Center where we had started from.

We chatted about the spectacular day, the amazing sights, sounds, and smells of the rainforest we're fortunate anough to have witnessed. We were glad to have experienced such amazing diversity. The forest somehow manages to rejuvenate the spirit. As we drove home we talked about how we could incorporate our experiences and newly gained knowledge into lessons for our students. Our goals had been accomplished!

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