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 Post subject: Borneo Dispatches #26: Smaug The Dragon
PostPosted: February 14th, 2012, 5:54 am 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 2:19 am
Posts: 3179
Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
Dark and ominous, Smaug rests on his vast hoard of gold and precious stones. Listless, he appears, but do not be fooled, o fellow wanderer of these forests - the great dragon will never let his guard down. You doubt my words? Behold the wisp of smoke from the beast's nostrils ....

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To the learned scholars of Minas Tirith, Smaug is known as Aeluroscalabotes felinus. The children of the Elves, Dwarves, and Hobbits, with the irreverence of their young years, mockingly call the beast "Cat Gecko", for he curls his powerful tail around his body when he rests, and he moves slowly on the hunt, creeping up on his prey before he pounces, much like a house cat stalking a mouse.

Smaug lives deep in the darkest forest, among the great, ancient trees, where life requires sharp claws rather than finger pads. Few mortals ever venture close to his lair, and even fewer are the times Smaug leaves his forbidding mountains. But last Sunday night was just such a time, and our little fellowship was fortunate enough to cross his path. Well, to be frank, he actually crossed ours. Whether he was on his way to seek out the dragon lady of his heart (it was going on Valentines' Day, after all); or whether he was out for an after-supper constitutional, we shall never know. What we do know is that he suddenly appeared in the middle of the horse-cart road, and, after we had drawn closer, tried to flee to the other side in jerky, vertical hops that did not really propel him forward very much at all. We were already weary from an intense, yet unsuccessful hunting excursion along the edges of Smaug's realm, so we swept the formidable creature into a bag and headed home. There we transferred him into our Dragon Inn for overnight guests, gave him a few mealworms for company and amusement, and bade him good night.

Word about our heroic deed traveled like ball lightning, and the next evening, the townsfolk thronged our house for a glimpse at the cause of their nightmares. (Why, they arrived in such numbers that we ran out of scones and even tea long ere midnight!)
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Facing the unspeakable beast - luckily, protected by a magic light box.

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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #26: Smaug The Dragon
PostPosted: February 14th, 2012, 7:35 am 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 3:02 am
Posts: 878
Hans, you are freaking hilarious. I hope to meet you in person some day.
Great post, and a super cool gecko- er, I mean dragon. I've liked them for a long time. Thanks for sharing that one!
--Berkeley


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #26: Smaug The Dragon
PostPosted: February 14th, 2012, 7:37 am 

Joined: June 8th, 2010, 1:17 am
Posts: 136
Awesome Hans,

A. felinus was once at rest in the gloomy ent-ridden forests of a mysterious island known to shire folk as Sing-a-pore. A place of mystery; few ever wandered here - with, of course, the exception of an occasional wanderer. It was only when Bilbo opted to go for his first great adventure to the island, that he discovered the yet undiscovered - a dragon soon-to-be-called Smaug - - as you appropriately pointed out. Here Smaug's name was born, yet it appears that the overexploitation of his treasure trove has driven him from the land in which he dwells. No longer do the tall trees stand that Smaug calls home. Smaug has disappeared from Singapore like smaug in the wind. The last sighting of the cat-beast here was from an unconfirmed record (probably an orc yet it could also have been something more mysterious, a Ballrog) from Singapore's central catchment reserve around 7 years ago. May Smaug dwell longer in Borneo's Trees - May his pride drive out deforestation and promote conservation. May he share the power of the white wizard and shout - "You shall not pass!" - to those who destroy the landscape of the last.


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #26: Smaug The Dragon
PostPosted: February 14th, 2012, 12:02 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 5:50 pm
Posts: 220
Location: Gatineau, QC, Canada
Awesome post!! Love those pictures of smaug...

And, isn't Aeluroscalabotes felinus THE most awesome latin name to pronounce???


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #26: Smaug The Dragon
PostPosted: February 14th, 2012, 3:30 pm 
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Joined: October 9th, 2010, 11:00 am
Posts: 230
Location: Rochester, NY
That was one entertaining post. I look forward to your posts Hans...keep'em coming.


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #26: Smaug The Dragon
PostPosted: February 14th, 2012, 4:10 pm 
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Joined: February 11th, 2012, 5:45 pm
Posts: 20
Location: Toledo, Ohio
what a great story about such a awesome "dragon"


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #26: Smaug The Dragon
PostPosted: February 14th, 2012, 5:00 pm 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 2:19 am
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Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
Much obliged, gentlefolk. That was an awesome find indeed. I've seen cat geckos on trees before, but in spite of their normally very deliberate movements, they always managed to get to the far side of the bole every time we tried to catch them. Roadcruising one was something we would never have dreamed of.

Singapore Dave, that was an excellent follow-up! One of the few instances where the sequel beats the original. ("Smaug has disappeared from Singapore like smaug in the wind"- how cool is that!) We should require faux Tolkienese for every reply to this thread :-)

Are there any actual forests left in S'pore? As to wild places over there, I only know of that reservoir/army training ground next to the zoo, but I've never seen a proper forest.

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isn't Aeluroscalabotes felinus THE most awesome latin name to pronounce???

"Brain-wrecking" is more like it. I've been trying to remember the name since Sunday, but so far no cigar. Even harder than Prothobothrops (that took me two entire days).

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I hope to meet you in person some day.

Thank you, that's very kind! But prepare for disappointment - I'm much shorter than in the movies :-)


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #26: Smaug The Dragon
PostPosted: February 15th, 2012, 7:44 am 

Joined: June 8th, 2010, 1:17 am
Posts: 136
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Singapore Dave, that was an excellent follow-up! One of the few instances where the sequel beats the original. ("Smaug has disappeared from Singapore like smaug in the wind"- how cool is that!) We should require faux Tolkienese for every reply to this thread

Are there any actual forests left in S'pore? As to wild places over there, I only know of that reservoir/army training ground next to the zoo, but I've never seen a proper forest.


Thank you Hans! I am still not able to copy your writing skills though - you have to begin writing a book, although i am sure other forum members have suggested this before!

Umm, the zoo is actually located (unfortunately) in the north-west of the central catchment reserve. Expansion of parking lots, 'river safaris', and the construction of new enclosures + bamboo plantations for the new panda arrivals, are all consuming large areas of forest. This is a pretty sad sight, i would rather have forests than zoos, although i am in no way considering zoos/captive animals to be bad - ex-situ conservation can be very valuable :thumb: . The are 4 large reservoirs dotting the central catchment area. Each reservoir is largely surrounded by forest - mainly mature secondary forests. Patches of primary forest and even a small very valuable remnant of primary freshwater swamp forest still exist here however. These areas are where i do my herping. There are still some unofficial areas, such as near my house with quite some amazing landscape. In fact, one area is completely mind-blowing, and i believe that no Singaporean is aware of the beauty of this place (it is actually a restricted military training ground). I'm going back one day (if it is not being developed into some sky-scraping urban potato yet), and I'll take a picture. You will see a white sandy, natural beach (the only natural beach, almost the only one, left here in Singapore), mudflats, mangroves, forested shores, a beautiful river mouth, and a forested island. Not a sight many here know of.

However, just to make you happy - I did a small survey near my house last weekend to see if i could find any snakes. To my surprise (although this snake does dwell in rural areas, i did not really expect it) i encountered a snake that I had seen multiple times before when i was young, but never had a camera to photograph. Unfortunately, i still didn't get any great pics, but hey, what doesn't live in the picture, lives in the memory. The beast hid itself below some leafs inside a drain, where i first encountered it (yes, your Taiwan technique applied to herping over here - I was extremely excited to see it worked!). I stepped out for 5 seconds to pick up my camera - and gone, poof. How i lost sight of it, i have no clue - after all it was a colourful critter. You may be wondering what it was by now haha? It was a snake that will make a great follow-up to your post on the banded malayan coral snake - it was a striped kukri snake. This species actually mimics your guy! When i get some time, i will send the pictures!

Thanks,

David G


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #26: Smaug The Dragon
PostPosted: February 15th, 2012, 7:43 pm 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 2:19 am
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Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
Thanks, David!
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you have to begin writing a book, although i am sure other forum members have suggested this before!

Thank you again, They sure have, and it worked: the book is done, see my last post on the second page of this thread for details :-)

Thanks for the info on S'pore's wild!

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it was a striped kukri snake

What's that? Please do post the pix!

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This species actually mimics your guy!

Many kukris do, that's one of the reasons why they're so cool...


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #26: Smaug The Dragon
PostPosted: February 16th, 2012, 11:04 am 
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Joined: June 16th, 2010, 12:26 pm
Posts: 561
Very funny, Hans. Hope that we are lucky enough to see this soon.

Regards,
David


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #26: Smaug The Dragon
PostPosted: February 16th, 2012, 6:38 pm 
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Joined: June 22nd, 2010, 9:48 pm
Posts: 277
Great post Hans - I love cat-eyed geckos!

Interesting responses about Singapore, David. I too think that the natural beauties that remain in Singapore are underappreciated by most, including the locals. I have had some extremely successful herp outings there, and also encountered seven species of snake in the backyard of the house I lived in (not far from Tyersall Woods) in 2002 - not bad for suburbia anywhere on the planet.

Do you happen to know Nick Baker by any chance?


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