by Oskar V. Conle & Frank Hennemann (1996)
(by positioning the mouse pointer over the pictures you will get more infos about the pictures)
Following our journey to West Malaysia (Peninsular Malaysia), we visited the east-malaysian states of Sarawak and Sabah - both being part of Borneo.
We flew from Kuala Lumpur to Kuching (Sarawak) and stayed at the Damai Beach Resort, just a few kilometers north of the capital Kuching (640.000 inhabitants). The luxurious comfort of these bungalows directly on the beach left nothing to be desired. For exploring the countryside we rented a car.
Sarawak is situated in northwestern Borneo and covers an area of 124.500 qkm. The total population is about 2,5 millions. Almost 90% of the primary rain forests have already been destroyed. In the state's centre there is a mountain range, with the highest peak being Gunung Mulu (2371 m). Swampy wet land covers large parts along the coasts.
We prospected areas in northwestern Sarawak in the surroundings of Kuching and Batu Niah National Park in eastern Sarawak, just a few kilometers south of the seaport Miri. The highest mountains in the region of Kuching are Mount Serapi and Mount Santubong, both approximately 900 m. In both regions the climate is humid and tropical, with temperatures ranging from 28-34 °C. There is a dry period between May and September with reduced rainfall, while temperatures raise siginficantly.
Along the street, which leads from Kuching to the Damai Peninsular, we could find the following species near the foot of Mount Santubong (800 m):
Lonchodes jejunus (Brunner v. Wattenwyl, 1907), Mnesilochus portentosus (Brunner v. Wattenwyl, 1907), Stheneboea tuberculata (Kirby, 1896), Dinophasma guttigerum (Westwood, 1859), a male of Syringodes rubicundus (de Haan, 1842) and two different Lopaphus species.
An interesting discovery was a good number of Hoploclonia gecko (Westwood, 1859) at different stages of developement alongside one of the hotel's "plank walks" just a few meters away from Damai beach. The habitat was characteristic for being dry, with sandy soil and constant winds. Specimens was found only in the herb layer of the costal forest.
Mount Serpai (ca. 900 m) is situated a few kilometers west of Kuching and easy to reach via the Matang Road. This particular mountain is well-known for it's remarkably rich fauna nad flora and has hence become a National Park meanwhile. A steep road leads up to the Telekom Station at the peak.
The grassy patches on both siides of this street were so densely covered with the green form of Epidares nolimetangere (de Haan, 1842) at all different stages of developement, that it was almost impossible to cross them without stepping on some of them.
During only one night we found several adult specimens of the following species in the rich vegetation alongside the street:
Lonchodes everetti (Kirby, 1896), Lonchodes amaurops (Westwood, 1859), Orthonecroscia pulcherrima (Kirby, 1904), Dares validispinus (Stål, 1875), Haaniella grayii (Westwood, 1859), Dinophasma guttigerum (Westwood 1859), Acacus vulgaris (Bragg, 2009), Acacus braggi (Hennemann & Conle 2003), Phobaeticus kirbyi (Brunner v. Wattenwyl, 1907), Parorthomeria alexis (Westwood, 1859), as well as different species of Necroscia and Lopaphus.
At an altitude of about 700 m we discovered several adult pairs of the beautiful Dajaca monilicornis (Redtenbacher, 1906) on an approximately 10 m tall solitary Tristania-tree (Myrtaceae), which had its foliage all over with sign of heavy feeding. While driving back to our hotel, we could find some females of Prebistus peleus (Gray, 1835) on small Leea indica trees (Leeaceae) alongthe Matang Road.
Niah National Park
One of the highlights of our Sarawak trip was the visit of Batu Niah National Park and the famous Niah caves, which are amongst the biggest caves in the world. This very humid biotope has an exeptionally rich biodiversity and high population density. Therefore, with an experienced eye, one can even spot phamids during the day easily. Thanks to the "plank walks", one can explore the whole park comfortably.
Many different species are known from this area, of which we observed the following:
Lonchodes jejunus (Brunner v. Wattenwyl, 1907), Hermagoras hosei hosei (Kirby, 1896), Asceles margaritatus (Redtenbacher, 1908), Asceles larunda (Westwood, 1859), Diardia signata Redtebacher 1908, Diardia relicta Redtenbacher 1908, Orthonecroscia violascens (Redtenbacher, 1908), Dares validispinus (Stal, 1875) and Dares ulula (Westwood, 1859). Moreover, we found a female of a large as yet undescribed Prosentoria-species, as well as several adult couples of the giant stick-insect Phobaeticus kirbyi Brunner v. Wattenwyl, 1907. Females of this species, which is nowhere else in Borneo such abundant as in Batu Niah, can reach body lengths of over 30 cm! Also Haaniella echinata (Redtenbacher, 1908) was rather numerously encountered at different stages of devlopement, including adult mating couples.
Some of the species collected on this expedition were studied and described in the following publication:
HENNEMANN, F. H. & CONLE, O. V. (2003): Notes on rarely known Phasmatodea from Sarawak with the description of two new species and studies on the genus Gargantuoidea Redtenbacher, 1908 (Orthoptera: Phasmatodea). Mitteilungen der Münchner Entomologischen Gesellschaft, 93: 11-24.