Geography Trip to Sabah
You are here: Home \ SCIE news \ Geography Trip to Sabah
22 February 2019 - 13:12, by , in SCIE news, No comments

[SCIE web news, Feb 18th, 2019] On the 16th of January, 2019, eleven A2 Geography students began their field trip in Sabah, Malaysia, to study the tropical rainforest ecosystem.

[SCIE web news, Feb 18th, 2019] On the 16th of January, 2019, eleven A2 Geography students began their field trip in Sabah, Malaysia, to study the tropical rainforest ecosystem.

Located within doldrums, Sabah (between 4.2 N and 6.5 N latitude) is free from many natural hazards, including the typhoons, tsunamis and earth quakes which are experienced by neighboring countries. Due to its natural protection from the elements, Sabah was given a beautiful name — “Land Below the Wind”.

Destination 1: Kota Kinabalu

Kota Kinabalu (KK), the capital of Sabah, was our first destination. The city welcomed us with waves of heat and a burning sun. As a region with tropical rainforest climate, KK has an annual temperature ranging between 23 and 33 degrees Celsius, and an average humidity of over 70%.

  

KK, the capital of Sabah, was our first destination. This tropical land welcomed us with heat waves and a burning sun. As a region with tropical rainforest climate, KK has an annual temperature ranging between 23 and 33 degree Celsius, and an average humidity over 70%.

Kinabalu National Park benefits from a well-protected ecosystem. Its location — just beneath Malaysia’s highest mountain peak — makes it rich in flora with more than 4000 native species ranging from tropical plants which grow in lower altitudes, to cryoflora which can be found at higher altitudes.

Here, we saw many of the things we learned from textbooks in real life for the first time, including: buttress roots, fungi, carnivorous plants, mosses and epiphytes.

   The world’s smallest orchid

Stuart and Ian were introducing buttress root to us

Destination 2: Sandakan- Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre

Apart from plants, there are also lots of endangered tropical animals being protected in Sabah. On the second day, we headed east and visited Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center and the Sun bear Protection Center in a city called Sandakan. In order for the local people to sell wood and reclaim agricultural land, many of the animal’s habitats were destroyed through economic activities, such as deforestation. Illegal hunting for pet-keeping and black market trading further endangers the species. The centers are responsible for curing and bring up young or ill orang-utans and sun bears before releasing them into the wild.


sun bear

 

proboscis monkey

oil palm

Oil palm plantations line the highways to the sanctuaries. In the past, the exporting of woods and cocoa accounted for the main source of foreign income in Sabah, however, the over-exploitation of forests depleted such natural resources so the government turned to palm trees for more profits.  As a clean biofuel, the oil extracted and refined from the trees are of countless uses– use in the production of plastics, cosmetics, heating, generating energy and much more. Therefore, much of the rainforest was cut down and replaced by oil palm plantations.

With a poverty rate of 16%, the economy of Sabah largely depends on exporting palm oil. With improved environmental awareness, the new government puts more emphasis on rainforest and wildlife conservation, but the lack of economic strength renders lots of places protected only for commercial reasons.

Destination 3: Gomantong Cave

Gomantong Cave is famous for its collection of world-class collocalia nests used in bird nest soup. The damp, dark and wet conditions also make it the ideal place for the esculent swallow and fruit bats to live, whose faeces have fed organisms such as cockroaches, snails, frogs and ferns for hundreds of years.

Destination 4: Lahad Datu

Lahad Datu is a small fishing village in South East Sabah. Its distance from cities not only allows it to be free from pollution but also grants it with a clean coast and blue sea. Being rich in coral reefs, ecotourism is practiced here.

  

On the last day in Sabah, we went snorkeling to have a closer look at the world under the sea’s surface. There were many sea urchins and sea cucumbers on the sea bed. Some of us were also lucky enough to see red and yellow coral reefs, however, others only saw hard, bleached ones. Coral reefs have a strict requirement on their conditions for survival — temperatures from 25 to 29 degrees Celsius, mild sunshine, no more than 50m water depth and weak current. They are useful in terms of providing breeding habitats for a number of fish and acting as a natural ingredient for medicines. However, in South East Asian countries, over-fishing and water contamination have been major threats to corals. As well as this, rising sea temperatures due to global warming have resulted in coral bleaching. After appreciating the beauty of Malaysia, we hope that more conservation centers and education programmes can be set up and put into practice in the future.

(Report/ Gloria; Photos/ Gloria, Andrew;  Editor/Carlota)

Note:Some content and photos are from Bing

About author:

Leave a Reply