Harmony of the Forest

by Dusky Zher Yee

“I was grateful for having the chance

to meet a python in the wild”

The Harmony of the Forest / We COEXIST! 

It was the day after I came back from the UK last year. I still remember clearly, following Jo Leen for fieldwork at Teluk Bahang, Penang.

As usual, we started sampling from the sleeping tree of the langurs and traveled deep into the forest following them. The weather was slightly humid, because of the thunderstorm last night. We were traveling higher up into the forest following the direction of the langurs when suddenly… 

“AWW HAWK, Aww HAWK…” we heard the honking of the alpha male. 

Immediately, all langurs moved higher up to the trees. Jo Leen and I knew there is something ‘interesting’ in front of us. She guessed it was a snake and the honking was to alert the family members about the potential danger ahead. 

We watched our steps carefully while heading towards the direction of where the langurs were.  

It’s a python! A big-sized one!” Jo Leen shouted excitedly.  

The dusky langurs warned us about the existence of the reticulated python (Python reticulatus).

The python was gliding on the ground slowly and calmly. Jo Leen identified it as a reticulated python. We took photos and observed from a distance as we do not want to provoke the python. I was very lucky to meet this beautiful creature on my first day back in Malaysia.  

The langurs ‘escorted’ the python to a stream nearby. After checking that everything was safe, the langurs proceed on their way to forage for more tasty fruits and leaves while we were busy recording this incident in our data (key skills of a researcher: Be observant and handle your data carefully!) 

Such a beautiful creature! We hope more human beings would start appreciate reptiles even more.

I was grateful for having the chance to meet a python in the wild and cannot help but appreciate the coexistence of different species in the forest. The dusky langurs live peacefully with the python and some other snakes because they are mostly nocturnal animals. Besides, dusky langurs are good friends with the Racquet-tailed Drongo, the Plantain Squirrel, and Black Giant Squirrel and the macaques too! They share the same habitat and some of the food sources and acknowledge each other’s existence. Every one of them plays different roles in maintaining a balanced ecosystem in the forest! 

As a human, I feel a strong sense of responsibility to speak for the unheard wildlife – They belong to the forest. Hunting and construction (such as building highways across a forest) have been a huge threat to these forest residences, where all they need is a peaceful life within the trees, not in a cage.  

Recently, the dusky langurs have been categorized from Near-threatened to Endangered (EN) in the IUCN Red List. This highlights that more effort must be done in conservation and if you are considering what you can do to help, feel free to talk to any of us! 

Let us humans coexist with wildlife by respecting them.  You can watch the full video from above observation below.

Signing off,

Zher Yee

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