In 2008 ans 2013 I visited Malaysia . Furthermore in 2016 I spent a week in Sabah / Borneo which belongs also to Malaysia.
In 2008 it was only possible to visit a small part of this country and there was even less time to hunt for spiders. But in 2013 I made some intersting obersavtions on Fraser`s Hill near Kuala Lumpur. But the most obvious issue in Malaysia is the big destruction of the environment due to urbanisation and the extension of palm oil plantations. Especially the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia and Borneo are a negative example for habitat destruction.
After arrival in 2008 Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia , the first thing which happened was the theft of my camera by pickpockets so that I had to get a new one at the next store offering cameras. After the usual sightseeing in Kuala Lumpur I travelled to the Cameron Highlands which are known for their relativley cool climate. Also parts of it are still covered with dense forest. On the way to the Cameron Highlands from Kuala Lumpur I passed nothing but Palm Oil Plantations. On my opinion a worldwide threat to flora and fauna. The Cameron Highlands are also well known for their tea plantations which cover large areas.
Also urbanisation like the building of this new highway directly through the highlands leads to more ecological devastation. When there are roads always people follow to settle down next to these roads.
The following video gives an insight into the Cameron Highlands:
Another negative aspect are the so called " Butterfly farms " who a are tourist attraction throughout Malaysia. Beside butterflies also different endemic reptiles, amphibians and spiders are shown and they have to live in very poor conditions. After their death they are just replaced by a fresh wild caught individual. I saw so peaky reptiles that I asked myself if they are ever fed...
Here are some examples:
The butterflies are quite beautiful::
Gecko smithi , just skin and bones:
Especially snakes don`t have a chance to survive in almost all parts of Asia due to the ingnorance of people. Snakes will be killed on sight even if they are completely harmless:
This Oreocrypthophis porphyracea was also dead...Once these snakes were very common but I was told that nowadays one have to be lucky to find one.
Despites these negative aspects of my travel I was able to find some nice spider species. In this area large Nephila pilipes . were quite common:
Unknown Nephila sp. from the same habitat as Nephila pilipes:
Also Nephilengys malabarensis occurs in the Cameron Highlands.
Another very interesting family of spiders from the Malayan Peninsular are the Liphistiidae. These Trap Door Spiders are thought to form the sister group to all other living spiders, representing an ancient and "primitive" line of spiders. They own destinctive are tergite plates on the dorsal side of their abdomen.
A big species , Liphistius malayanus, which is endemic to Fraser Hills in Malaysia became a protected species in 2005 because of intensive collecting for the pet trade. Also the theraphosid spiders from Malaysia are protected and it is prohibited to export any of them. Anyways still plenty of specimen are collected and sold to the pet trade.
Here an article on that issue : thestar.com.my/news/story.asp
The trapdoors of these spiders are extremely difficult to locate. They are well camouflaged and they can only be identified by the signal line
This picture shows a trapdoor:
Further I found Gasteracantha spp.
Damarchus sp. were quite common building their retreats in road embankments. The burrows look similar to Theraphosid burrows
After Cameron Highlands I travelled to Penang Island. There is a nice mountain in the middle of this highly populated island still having dense forests and which can be visited easily.
City of Penang:
Train going up the Penang Hill:
Here people are asked to leave nothing but footprints and therefore I did not dig for any spiders I found. Besides a Chilobrachys sp. I found a another larger burrowing species, probably a Coremiocnemis sp. but I was not able to take a good picture of it. Furthermore it is said that Cyriopagopus schioedtei can be found on Penang.
The Chilobrachys can be found in walls next to the road:
Entrance of a burrow on the right side of the fern :
Chilobrachys sp. at the entrance of its burrow:
Another nice encounter on Penang was to see the world largest ant Camponotus gigas. The picture shows a "small" minor worker with about 2cm bodylength. More information about Camponotus gigas is here:
In 2013 i stayed for 3 days in Fraser`s Hill at an altitude of approx. 1100 m with moderately cool temperatures. At this place my aim was to take pictures of Psedocnemis and Coremiocnemis spp. which all share the same habitat.
The Clocktower at the entrance to Frasers Hill
Also here people are asked not to interfere with nature but also here illegal collecting of wildlife is a big problem. Shortly after my visit some polish
smugglers were digging out many burrows of Coremiocnemis hoggi at this location.
Spiders can be found at roadsides and it is possible to see multiple species at one place
Here I found 8 Coremiocnemis hoggi ( which you can all see on this picture )
Frasers Hill is home to Liphistius malayanus which is quite rare due to collection for the pet trade. The trapdoors are well camouflaged and hard to find.
The spiders are lightning fast ....
The tergite plates on the abdomen are typical for these spiders
This video shows how fast Liphistius malayanus is while catching prey
Another new Video in HD about Liphistius malayanus
At night Sparassidae sp. can be found at the same place
A small Damarchus sp. is very common, its burrows look very much like the one of theraphosid spiders.
The burrows of Coremiocnemis und Psedocnemis sp. were mainly along the roads and at day the entrance was covered with a thin layer of silk. Often the spider was sitting directly behind it.
Coremiocnemis hoggi was the most common Theraphosid
Coremiocnemis jeremyhuffi is less colourful
This might be a Psedocnemis gnathospina. These spiders were very aggressive when being disturbed.
Psedocnemis davidgohi is one of the largest species
I was lucky to photograph a snake at daylight at Fraser`s Hill
In 2016 I made a short trip to Sabah/ Borneo. Same situation here as in whole Malaysia...most of the nature has already been destroyed to plant palm oil plantations.
Despite that Sabah is also very busy with traffick. Especially Kota Kinabalu has a serious problem. In rushhour it takes hours to get out of this rather small town.
Close to Kota Kinabalu is Mount Kinabalu. It is Borneos highest peak and famous for climbers.
The mount Kinabalu National Park and the Crocker Range National Park are both home to Phlogiellus pelidnus. These spiders prefer an altitude above 1400 m
and interestingly they inhabit trees and and deep burrows. People reported of that Phlogiellus pelidnus was abundant in the Mt. Kinabalu Park but in 2016 it was hard to
find them and it seems they became quite rare.
Retreat in a tree hole
Burrow in an road enbankment
Typical habitat at the Crocker Range National Park
Phlogiellus pelidnus in its habitat
As Phlogiellus pelidnus is a quite large species I was also able to find a very small Theraphosid spider around the Kinabalu National Park
The lowland forests have another large Phlogiellus species which is Phlogiellus obscurus.
Habitat and burrow of Phlogiellus obscurus