New book on Borneo stick insects launched

KOTA KINABALU: Documenting wildlife is just as important as protecting them and could contribute greatly to the effort of conserving various fauna, said Sabah Forestry Department Chief Conservator of Forests Datuk Sam Mannan.

According to Sam, it was imperative to document wildlife in the state or Borneo as a whole to serve as a point of reference.

“There is magic in books and those who write books are magicians. Books are important – but I don’t believe in e-books.

“It is great that in Sabah at least, a lot of the work has been documented. This is very practical and important because, as we move further into High Conservation Value (HCV) certification, this is a good resource material that will be useful for us today and in times to come.”

He said this at the launch of ‘A Taxonomic Guide to the Stick Insects of Borneo, Volume II’ by Professor Dr Francis Seow-Choen.

He said for the Sabah Forestry Department, the book will prove very useful for researchers in identifying, documenting and highlighting the endemic species in preparing HCV reports and forest management plans in sustainable forest management.

Sam added that documenting species of fauna was important for their protection and management to ensure their survival for future generations.

“Like many other insects, stick insects are truly fascinating. Such bizarre and captivating creatures in Borneo have drawn the attention of many nature lovers and tourists from around the world and this promotes nature tourism and contributes towards the state’s economy.

“It also indicates the high rate of unexplored diversity of Bornean stick insects. All these specimens are vital as taxonomic and biodiversity references for both local and international researchers, as well as university students,” he disclosed.

Sam also said that the Sabah Forestry Department will continue with certification, hopefully adding another two forests to the certified list of reserved forests this year, in meeting the target of certifying at least one reserved forest per year.

The department will also be focusing on reducing impact logging and engagement with non-governmental organisations (NGOs), emphasising the importance of collaboration, he revealed.

“Last time, we thought we could work on our own and make it. But it doesn’t work like that; we must get everybody who is interested in the particular subject on our team,” Sam said.

Earlier, Natural History Publications (Borneo) managing director Datuk CL Chan commended Dr Francis’ efforts in seeing the book to fruition.

This kind of documentation took painstaking study and mastery of a subject, he pointed out, in which the specialist then becomes uniquely aware of the diversity of form and the specialisations and common features of various groups that may be recognised.

“It was most remarkable when Dr Francis crafted the first volume, which documented 15 new genera and 52 new species for the first time. The discovery and publication of so many novelties in a biological group, for a single territory, represented an iconic moment in science.

“Now, in just a short period of 12 months, Dr Francis has made even more intensive collecting trips to Sabah, this time concentrating on the phasmid fauna of Mount Trus Madi.

“The author has not only done science a great service in providing these results, but also allowed naturalists easy identification of the species portrayed as all the new taxa are described and illustrated with high-quality photographs,” he said.

Chan also revealed that Natural History Publications (Borneo) has been appointed as the publisher of Dr Francis’ upcoming book ‘Stick Insects of Sumatra’, which he is well into completing at the manuscript stage.

‘A Taxonomic Guide to the Stick Insects of Borneo, Volume II’ continues to open new trails to a better understanding of Bornean stick insect fauna the author has concentrated his efforts on the stick insects of Mount Trus Madi, besides studying the drawers of the entomological collections of Kinabalu Park and the Forest Research Centre in Sepilok.

Volume II lists 373 Bornean species or subspecies from 92 genera, with descriptions of four new genera, one genus new to Borneo, 37 new species, four new name combinations, three new synonyms, two wrong synonyms and nine descriptions of the previously unknown sex of known species.


Source: Borneo Post