Sunday, January 26, 2014

The jungle at night at Camp Permai Rainforest Resort

THE silence and the darkness of the tree-shrouded path at Camp Permai Rainforest Resort were shattered.

About 90 two-legged creatures armed with torchlights, mosquito repellent and cameras swarmed out of the conference room ready for an adventurous introduction into the night jungle world.

However, were the creatures of the night jungle ready to face the two-legged ones?

A large spider of undetermined species had staked out a leaf along a well-travelled trail for the night, probably hoping for prey to appear and then it would capture the prey from the depth of the darkness hiding its dark brown body.

However, the predator became the prey of the flashing lights. It stayed put. It didn’t move. The flashing camera lights must have disturbed its night vision, but still it remained – a stationary model for the visitors.

Night predators, such as this spider, tend to stay in one place even when surrounded by flashing lights. They hunt by camouflage and the night provides the cover.

Spiders, like scorpions, are air-breathing arthropods with eight legs. An estimated 40,000 spider species inhabit all corners of the world except Antarctica.

All spiders, except one species, are predators that prey on – depending on their size (ranging from two millimetres to hand-size) – tiny insects, ants, spiders and birds.

Most spiders also spin webs designed to catch and subdue prey. Young spiders have been seen to eat nectar, and the extent of this habit is relatively unknown as they are predominantly nocturnal.

The noisy crowd and the bright lights dissipated down the trail to the next victim. The large brown spider, with relief, slid back into the darkness, waiting for the next unsuspecting visitor.

Meanwhile, gasps of disbelief filled the night, an angle headed lizard, sure of its cover, had not fled into the darkness. In a flash, flashing lights surrounded it; it was penned in by light.

The greyish brown lizard with the upright crest should have been hidden as is clung to the tree trunk, but it was spotted by the sharp-eyed guide who then pointed it out to his charges. We were enthralled and wanted desperately to take memories in pictures to the security of our homes.

Angle headed lizards (Gonocephalus sp) are members of the Agamidae family. These lizards, sometimes called dragons, eat ants, spiders and insects. They are truly magnificent creatures.

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