Sunday, March 02, 2014

Orang-utans in the movies

TV channels broadcast many American detective crime sagas like ‘CSI’, ‘Law and Order’, ‘Bones’ and ‘The Mentalist’.

They usually begin with a murder, followed by the hero and his staff solving the crime and then order is restored to society.

However, very few people know that this sequence of events in story form dates back to 1841 and involves an orang-utan.

The first crime short story was ‘Murders in the Rue Morgue’ by the American horror writer Edgar Alan Poe, whose tales still send chills up the spine. He is acknowledged as the first to write the modern detective story.

The story is set in Paris where the unnamed narrator meets a bankrupt member of the upper class, C Auguste Dupin. He has been reduced to poverty but doesn’t really care as his only desire is to read books.

The narrator, also in similar financial circumstances, befriends Dupin and together they stay at a “time eaten, grotesque mansion, long deserted through superstitions”.

They leave the mansion and are walking down the street when they hear shrieks from a four-storey home. Thirty people arrive and break down the door.

They search the house and find the body of a young woman shoved up a chimney head down. The second corpse is found in the back garden nearly beheaded. All of the windows and doors are locked.

Dupin and the narrator draw the conclusion that the attacker is not human from the evidence collected by the witnesses’ statements. The victim has orangey-red hair clasped in her fist, plus the finger pods are not human.

A description of the orang-utan of the time describes “the ourang-outang (sic) of the East Indian Islands as of gigantic stature, prodigious strength and activity, the wild ferocity, and the imitative propensities of these mammalia are known to all”.

Dupin hands this description to the narrator and both agree the killer is an ape. An orang-utan is labelled as the murderer and the hunt is on to identify it.

Through an advertisement, a sailor recently arrived from Borneo said he had taken possession of an orang-utan from a hunter who had passed away. However, the orang-utan had escaped.

The ape had been hidden in a closest. The sailor surmises that the orang-utan had learned the human behaviour of shaving through observation and had tried to shave the girl, inadvertently cutting her throat.

Remembering the whip for past misdeeds, the ape then flies into a rage and kills the younger girl. To hide this hideous act, he stuffs the girl up the chimney and hurls the remains of the older one into the back garden.

The sailor is turned over to the police. The fate of the murderous orang-utan is a mystery.

A film (available on YouTube) loosely based on the ‘Murders in the Rue Morgue’, was shot in 1932 staring Bela Lugosi (star of the first ‘Dracula’ film) as a lunatic scientist who extracts blood from an ill-tempered orang-utan and injects it into virgin abducted women.

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Friday, February 28, 2014

Attenborough to film Sabah wildlife in 3D

KOTA KINABALU: Renowned British naturalist Sir David Attenborough is once again turning his attention on Sabah’s wildlife.

The documentary maker is spending about a month with a crew of 44 in Sabah’s Lost World, the Danum Valley and Gomantong Caves in the east coast to film flying creatures in three dimensional format.

The segments would be part of a documentary called Conquest of the Skies slated for release in the United Kingdom in December followed by other countries later.

“We are making a story about how insects and animals with bones have evolved to fly. There are more examples of the interesting flying creatures in Borneo than anywhere else in the world,” Attenborough said here on Wednesday.

“There are all sorts of flying reptiles such as frogs and snakes and then there is the flying lemur. This land is rich in wonders,” he said.

Attenborough said shooting a documentary in 3D format was most suitable as it would show clearly the movements of the animals.

This would be his second foray to the Gomantong caves that is home to thousands of bats.

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Sabah Tourism voices concern power tariff hike may affect tourist arrivals

Kota Kinabalu: Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun has expressed concern that the nationwide electricity tariff hike, which took effect on Jan 1, may to a certain extent affect the State's tourist arrival figure this year.

Sabah received two million domestic tourists last year, the first in the State's history, and one million in foreign tourist arrivals, which is also a record.

He said this is especially because domestic tourists may decide to cut cost in other aspects, which include less travelling for them, because of the increase in their electricity bill.

"That is why we are setting a cautiously optimistic target in terms of tourist arrivals for this year. For this year, we are just targeting about two per cent growth in the number of tourist arrivals," he told reporters during an appreciation luncheon hosted by the Ministry for the State winners in the recent Malaysian Tourism Award ceremony held in Kuala Lumpur.

Masidi also hoped hotel and resort operators in the State would help out by keeping their room rates at a healthy level that is affordable to both domestic and international tourists.

"I think we need to be careful because we cannot spoil the very reasons why people are coming to Sabah and I hope the hotel industry will continue to maintain a healthy rate that is affordable to both domestic as well as international tourists," he said.

"At the moment, it (room rate) is high. You are talking about an average RM500 to RM800 per night, which is high, I mean it is bad news that we like, especially at the hotel industry but at the same time, it may have repercussions on domestic tourism," he said.

He said this rate maybe just average or still low for international/foreign tourists but to the domestic tourists it is really quite high.

"So we do not want to lose the domestic tourists too. For the first time, the domestic tourist arrivals touched the two million mark and for the first time in history, the international arrivals also touched the one million mark and this is something good for us," he said.

On the shortage of 5-star hotel rooms, he said this is expected to be eased when JW Marriott at the city waterfront starts operations at the end of this year and Kota Kinabalu Hilton is anticipated to begin operations in the first quarter of 2015.

On business people here who intentionally increase the prices of their products especially seafood being sold to the tourists at high prices just to profit from their increasing number in the State, Masidi advised them to be careful because people have choice.

"If the price outside is similar with the hotel then they would rather eat in the hotel. They should not be too greedyÉdon't kill the goose that lays the golden eggs," he said.



Thursday, February 27, 2014

Sabah to have 'zip-line' tours at marine park

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah will be the first state in the country to introduce “zip-line” tours at the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park islands here soon.

Zip-lining involves “flying” from one elevated point to another while suspended on a descending line.

Sabah Parks board of trustees chairman Datuk Seri Tengku Zainal Adlin Mahamood said the zip-line tours were expected to commence in a few months.

“The idea came from members of Sabah Parks. We are finalising all security aspects as well as checking on all the equipment,” he said after an event at Gaya Island here yesterday.

Tengku Adlin said the zip line would connect Gaya and Sapi islands with a “flying” distance of about 200m.

He said the equipment had already been set up on the two islands.


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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Jumbos may be moved deeper into Sabah jungles

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is deciding whether to move a herd of Borneo pygmy elephants deep into its central jungles in efforts to ensure the safety of villagers and also to protect the animals.

The translocation of two of the herd’s more aggressive elephants to Dermakot Forest Reserve was completed over the last two days.

Now, wildlife rangers are studying the possibility of relocating the remaining 17 jumbos.

According to Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun, the relocation would protect the elephants as well as villagers and plantations that they encroached into.

A herd of about 30 elephants prowled into orchards and farms belonging to villagers at Kampung Bauto in Telupid, about 300km from here, last week.

Sabah Wildlife Department rangers were able to calm the herd after they tranquilised two “aggressive” females that were later restrained with chains.

The two females were relocated to the Dermakot forest 80km away after rangers fitted them with GPS collars.

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