Malaysia is a modern country with modern and up to date infrastructure. Step just a little way from the beaten path, however, and you are back in ancient and thick jungle. The peninsula where we live now is pretty densely settled and isolated communities are the exception rather than the rule.
|A little light reading to give you nightmares
Sarawak where we lived before we moved here is huge (the state, one of two Malaysian states on the island of Borneo, is as large as Peninsular Malaysia) and consists of small pockets of settlement in amongst some of the wildest and most remote land in the world. Sadly much of that remote land, particularly along the coast and close to major settlements like Miri, is no longer pristine jungle but has been cut down for oil palm production. This means that a lot of the wildlife, particularly the rarer creatures such as Sun Bears, are endangered as they have seen their habitat ranges restricted time and again. There are still mysterious animals out there, however, as a newspaper report from January this year attests. Workers on a plantation came across a strange, almost bald, and very large mammal with extremely sharp claws. While some thought it could be a sick Sun Bear the workers who saw it thought it was something completely new, it certainly would not surprise me if they are right. (The animal ran away before it could be examined properly).
|What is this? It could very well be a new species...
One of the most common animals, seen all around the state, is the Salt Water Crocodile. These fearsome animals can grow to be extremely large. The males are known regularly to exceed 5 meters and lengths of up to 7 have been recorded (there are some claims of crocodiles being found measuring as large as 10m in the 1930s but these are unverified). These huge animals seem torpid and languorous but they can swim at speeds approaching 30km an hour when they need to. The signs you see near creeks (danger, Crocodiles) are not to be taken lightly.
|The sign is not a joke.....
Reports of fishermen and villagers disappearing are still, sadly, all too common and maneaters prowl the waterways, the beasts are masters of camouflage and victims often do not know that the crocodile is there until it is too late. It is estimated that there are between 1 and 6 crocodiles for every km of river in the state. That is a lot of crocodiles! A death by eating is not a common occurrence but it is regular and we saw a number of reports in the papers during the 9 months we lived there, someone told me that fatal attacks (and most encounters are fatal) run at between 2-3 a year.
|This is not an isolated or rare incident.
All in all that must rank as one of the most horrendous ways to go! We have been lucky enough to see these animals in the zoo. Salt Water Crocodiles are one animal I never want to meet in the wild, even at a distance.
|These zoo crocs are as close as I ever want to get to them.
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