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Borneo
(Part 4)




Borneo - Animals

The fauna of Borneo comprises a large variety of species, many of which are numerically of great importance.

Among the Quadrunana, which are very well represented, the most remarkable is the orang-outan [orang utan] (or mias, as it is called by the natives), an animal only to be found elsewhere in the Island of Sumatra. It frequents the low-lying districts, especially in the neighbourhood of the Dyak plantations. The wawah, a kind of gibbon, several Semnopitheci (as the longnosed ape and the golden-black or chrysomelas), and the large-eyed Stenops tardigradus are also worthy of mention.

The larger beasts of prey seem to be altogether wanting, so that little check is put on the natural fecundity of the graminivorous species. A small panther and the Felis macrocelis are the largest animals of the cat-kind known; for though the tiger has sometimes been reported to occur in the mountains, its presence has never been verified.

The Malay or honey bear is very common. The rhinoceros is found on the north-west coast, and the elephant, introduced by the Chinese or Portuguese, in the neighbourhood of Cape Unsang.

Wild oxen of the Sunda race are not uncommon; and the whole island swarms with droves of wild pigs, which are distinguished by a curious protuberance of hair on each side of the head. These furnish food not only to the Dyaks, who are very fond of the flesh, but also to the crocodiles that abound in the principal rivers.

Three or four species of deer are enumerated, one of which, the pelandok of the Malays, is remarkable for its smallness and beauty.

Squirrels, porcupines, civet-cats, rats, bats, and lizards are well represented, and snakes of various kinds, from the boa constrictor downwards, are abundant, while the marshy districts swarm with frogs and leeches. The latter attach themselves in a most troublesome manner to the passing traveller. A remarkable flying-frog was discovered by Mr Wallace.

Birds are comparatively rare in many quarters; the most important being eagles, vultures, falcons, owls, horn-bills, cranes, pheasants, -- notably the Argus-pheasant, -- partridges, ravens, crows, parrots, woodpeckers, doves, and swallows. The Cypselus esculentus, or edible-nest swallow, is very common.

Mosquitoes and sandflies are the chief insect pests, and in some districts are very troublesome. There is also a kind of ant called the sumpit-api or fire-ant, the sting of which is very painful.

The lepidopterous insects are remarkable for their number, variety, beauty, and size. In one favourable situation Mr Wallace caught 120 different species of moths in one night. The Coleoptera are no less numerously represented, as, indeed, might be expected in so richly-wooded a region.

The lakes and rivers, as well as the surrounding sea, abound with fish. Dr Bleeker in his "Bijdragen tot de Kennis der Ichthyologische Fauna van Borneo," in the Natuurkundlig Tijdschrift vaa Nederl. Ind., describes 176 species which he obtained during his residence in the island.

The domestic animals of Borneo are few both in number of species and for the most part in number of individuals. The character of the country has prevented the development of pastoral modes of life. In some districts, as in the neighbourhood of Ambong, there are bullocks of the Brahmin breed, about thirteen hands high; the buflalo is sometimes employed in agriculture; and sheep and goats occur. The cat and dog are both domesticated. A few horses, introduced by Europeans, and only possessed by the wealthier classes, are found in Banjermassin and Sarawak.






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