July 27, 2009

Bonanza for Monkeys in the Park - Kelampu

Years ago when we were children growing up by the river bank of the Rajang we would often meet Ibans rowing their boats and offering to sell some of their products which were commonly wild boar meat and fruits like keranji and kelampu and an occasional snake. The favourite meat my father and my uncles would buy would be deer meat of the freshest quality.

I remember most of the hunters and the Chinese at that time had absolutely cordial relationships. My dad and uncles spoke good Iban and those who could not speak Iban would speak a smattering of bazaar Malay.

the jungle fruits then slowly disappeared as Sibu became bigger and traders began to congregate in Sibu to sell their jungle products. Then when the timber trade boomed many of the natives even stop selling their products including engkabang. Unknown to me at that time this was indirectly caused by the rapid felling of all kinds of trees in the jungles. Engkabang and kelampu to name a few slowly disappeared from the traded items in Sibu and Kapit.

Today some engkabang and kelampu can be found in places which are protected like special parks and forest reserves in Sarawak according to some experts to generate interest in natural habitats and equatorial biomedicine.

The kelampu tree is very shady and can be planted in parks. In fact many parks maintain their original trees which often would include several kelampu trees like the Reservoir Park in Bandar Darusalam.

In the past lumbermen have cut down this tree for furniture and light construction. When logging was at its height in Sarawak almost all the kelampu trees were cut down and sold as mixed wood. In this way the wild animals of Sarawak have lost a very good source of natural habitat food.

However unknown also to many the roots of the kelampu can be used medicinally. And the bark has been used for tanning nets and also for Iban cloth dyeing. Traditional pua has a real natural colour which no chemical colouring can imitate.

I have been observing the kelampu trees in the old Reservoir Lake Park in Bandar for several months now. And Lo and Behold - three of the trees are fruiting in the last week or so.

This morning I saw several monkeys near the waterfall. And I am sure at night they would be out hunting for fruits.

When the fruits turn yellow they will be edible.

I cannot wait for my chance at eating at least one. But the bonanza may be for the wild animals. We human beings might not stand a chance!

Sandoricum koetjape (Burm.f.) Merr., Philip. J. Sc. Bot. 7 (1912)
Latin for the local name of this species (Ketjape).

In this park I counted at least 5 kelampu trees and three of them are fruiting. They have all grown to their mature height of more than 40 m. tall.The leaves are small (tri-foliate).Kelampu have tiny white-yellow flowers.

The fruits as seen in the photos are rather tiny although many indigenous people have come across several varieties which grow to be as big as fist size. The fruits are green before maturing into yellow or greenish yellow. These fruits are drupes in botanical terms.

Kelampu are found naturally near or along rivers and streams. Their root systems often protect the banks of the rivers from erosion.

It is always a pleasant sight to see kelampu trees because they are pre-disturbance remnants. Thus the Old Reservoir Park in Bandar D.S has indication that many of the trees are original trees and the Forest Department has done a great job preserving them! To many a sighting of kelampu trees will be great moments for reminiscing of the good old childhood days.

Besides being found in Brunei and Sarawak Kalimantan also has a large forest of kelampu. Local names are Bua apo, Kelampu, Kelampu bukit, Lalamun, Sinlol, Sintol, Terapu.

In olden days in Peninsula Malaysia padi farmers used to observe the flowering of the kelampu trees. This would indicate the correct time to start planting their padi according to one local saying.

Source : http://nationaalherbevarium.nl/sungaiwain

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