DixPix Photographs

     

INDONESIAN ARCHIPELAGO

 
     
  MAMMALS (Other than Primates)  

 

Going...Going...almost gone.  The larger mammals of the Indonesian region face hunting and an anti-wildlife sentiment, but their main demise is loss of habitat, which is to say their tropical forests.  Increasingly one must turn to zoos and game parks to even see what they look like, let alone how they once lived.

 

Rural Sumatrans say that they fear the Sun Bear (Helarctos malayanus) even more than the Tiger, although it seems that the later kills more humans.  The few times the writer has come close to this bear in the bush, however, it retreated rapidly, so we will have to lean on zoos for photos. Click to see big picture (640x379 pixels; 82 KB)
One likely reason for the bears erratic behavior is that it has poor eyesight, and must charge up close to someone to see what 'it' is.  Likely evolution has rapidly selected bears which are less inquisitive and have a greater fear of humans. Click to see big picture (553x480 pixels; 95 KB)
In the days when there were still forests, bear footprints in the morning often showed that the camp had been investigated. Click to see big picture (338x480 pixels; 99 KB)
Bears are also one of the main reason that new plantations in frontier areas need to put up a wild animal fence when their trees are young.  Deer etc. are also a problem, but the sun bear has a great appetite for the shoots of young palms. Click to see big picture (640x448 pixels; 137 KB)
When I first worked in central Sumatra in the mid 1990's, it was common to find prints of the Sumatran Tiger, although as a largely nocturnal hunter it was not encountered in person. When I last visited at the end of that decade, there were no prints and no forests. Click to see big picture (395x480 pixels; 100 KB)
So again we must turn to a captive animal, in this case in the Denver Aquarium of all places, meet Panthera tigris sumatrae. Click to see big picture (462x480 pixels; 99 KB)
This is another familiar footprint from the days when there were forests.  My guess is that it is from the Malay Tapir (Tapirus indicus), an odd black and white creature which once roamed much of southeast Asia. Click to see big picture (449x480 pixels; 139 KB)
In northeastern Sabah we were stalking a rare Clouded Leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) in the canopy, when suddenly it came down a tree next to us, head first.  Our guide, Haswan, got this photo, while my telephoto lens was useless.  It was not clear if it was attacking or fleeing, happily it chose the latter.  Rare everywhere, super-rare in Borneo. Click to see big picture (255x480 pixels; 56 KB)

Sus scrofa is the wild pig and origin of tame ones.  It once roamed from the Mediterranean to Indonesia in bands which can be dangerous.  Scorned by Muslims as unclean and unfit to eat, it hence travels free in much of Indonesia. Domesticated versions are held in great esteem in New Guinea.

Click to see big picture (415x460 pixels; 108 KB)
The Bearded Pig, Sus barbatus, may be found in Malaysia and adjacent parts of Indonesia.  It has the odd habit of grouping for mass migrations. Captive. Click to see big picture (405x480 pixels; 87 KB)
The Lesser Mouse Deer (Tragulus kanchil) is the world's smallest hoofed animal.  Its native range is southeast Asia, including Borneo and Sumatra.  It also occurred on Java and was formerly named javacanus.  Locally it is called Kanchil. Click to see big picture (640x432 pixels; 109 KB)
This appears to be the Axis or Chital Deer of India, so what is it doing in western Sumatra?  Likely it was imported for its meat, which is said to be of exceptional quality, low in fats. Click to see big picture (611x480 pixels; 141 KB)
A Sumatran Porcupine, Hystrix sumatrae, killed by a logging truck.  Evolution has not had time to teach this species that quills are no defense against traffic. Click to see big picture (640x405 pixels; 129 KB)
Aonyx cinera, the Short-clawed Asian River Otter is found through much of southeast Asian, but is here napping at the zoo in Santa Barbara, Calif.
The Prevost or Tricolor Squirrel, Callosciurus prevosti, has a fairly wide range in southeast Asia, living mainly on fruits and nuts of the tropical forests. Click to see big picture (640x467 pixels; 90 KB)
The Bornean Mountain Ground Squirrel, Dremomys everetti, on the other hand is a relatively rare habitant of the higher mountains, in this case making a living at timberline on Mt. Kinabalu. Click to see big picture (611x480 pixels; 189 KB)
Bats are common in the region, although not always easy to photograph.  This small species spends daylight hours under an overhang on Pulau Guya Island off the coast of Sabah. Click to see big picture (630x480 pixels; 108 KB)
Fruit bats, on the other hand, often roost in trees near habitation, apparently indifferent to their edibility. Click to see big picture (609x480 pixels; 130 KB)
An unidentified footprint, perhaps symbolic of the disappearing wildlife through much of Indonesia.  Click to see big picture (425x480 pixels; 95 KB)
At the airport in Pekanbaru, Sumatra, stuffed wildlife is on sale, some of it endangered.  This is of no concern to the authorities in Indonesia, but if you try to bring this sort of thing into a responsible country, there will be problems.  The animal on top appears to have been a Leopard Cat, and that on the left a Palm Civet (listed as threatened). illegal sales