BOOK REVIEW- Borneo's Tropical Eden - Sabah

1) Reviewed by Mary Chin (Daily Express 30 Oct 2004)

Borneo's Tropical Eden - Sabah, a colourful and illustrative book, captures the essence of Sabah and is the masterpiece of three close friends - Dr Chua Ee Kiam, Billy Kon and Lee King Li. They have something in common and that is a passion for the wilderness.

In his foreword, Chief Minister Datuk Musa Hj Aman said... "For Malaysians in Sabah, this book will express for them what have always been dear to their hearts - the unique natural wonders of their land and the exclusivity of their heritage.

"It is a book that will serve as a window to this great Eden of ours."

Dr Chua admits that he and his team-mates could only show what they saw - a minuscle of the flora and fauna that lay within the trails. "Through a greater understanding and appreciation of nature, it is hoped that readers will be overwhelmed by the natural heritge and will personally endorse their efforts in the protection of the wild."

2. A Wild Sojourn by ME Choo, nature-lover (23rd Sept 2004)

When I first heard of this latest book written by Dr Chua, I was curious. What has Sabah got to do with me?  Why take 10 years to publish it?

When I finally laid my hands on this appealing 256-paged coffee-table book, I was bought over by the 360 great pictures, all exquisitely shot.  The passion of the author and his 2 co-photographers is evident, be it up in the mountains, down in the valleys, through the swamps, by the shores, in the limestone caves or in the depths of the sea. Their perseverance and delight in documenting their sojourn as they traverse these different habitats in Sabah shines through and rubs in on the reader.

As I read the illustrative prose, I embark on a journey with the author to the diverse habitats that have been co-existing with man, and which form an integral part of our existence.  Evocative and informative, the author shares his knowledge of the animals and plants that are found in Sabah , many endemic yet endangered.  To counter the damage done by indiscriminate logging, fish bombing and poaching, Sabah has set up sanctuaries to protect their wildlife and embarked on reforestation programmes to rehabilitate felled forests.  Dr Chua highlights the need for the rest of the world to support and participate in preserving the ecosystem that has so long been taken for granted by man.

The threat to the delicate balance between man and nature is not just unique to Sabah but is a universal one.  Every one of us plays a part in preserving what Mother Nature has generously bestowed upon us.  If not, as Dr Chua puts it succinctly, ‘the enchantment of today will exist only in the fairy tales of tomorrow'.

This is a great read for nature lovers, students and armchair explorers like myself. The colourful, vivid images with their compendious captions and the gripping text offer a refreshing, in-depth look at Sabah 's beautiful natural wonders.

3. Picture book on Sabah Wildlife by Teh Jen Lee (New Paper 20 Jan 2005)

..led by a dentist, they made countless trips to the jungles of Sabah over 10 years. There they shot pictures of porcupines mating, carp spawning and other wildlife scenes even seasoned nature lensmen rarely capture.

Dr Chua said: "We were priviledged to witness the miracles of life, and to be able to tell nature's story because we too are a part of nature."

4. Sabah- the land below the winds by Nancy Chng (Singapore American, Feb 2005)

You don't have to be a nature lover to be captivated by this magnificent volume. If you appreciate excellent photography, you'll find this treasure to keep. The publication of his Sabah book was almost stalled due to the lack of funding. It was the dogged perseverance, combined with a belief that this was a truly important project that led to the launching last August by the Chief Minister of Sabah.

The illustrations bear testimony to the photographers' patience. Details are evident: you can see clearly the fuzz on the wings of the colourfulk Atlas Moth and spot the insect trapped on a water-logged Nepenthes Rajah, the largest pitcher plant in the world. Readers, through the lens of these devoted naturalists, can observe the delicate balance between man and nature. Intersped with descriptions of the birds, flowers, animals, trees, fishes and insects are comments about the fragile environment and the need to cultivate and promote awareness of it.

In this book, the author sums up his lifelong committment to nature and the environment thus: "Only when we have taken the effort to discover and study these habitats, then can we understand the immense gifts that we are bestowed with. Like a jigsaw puzzle, the intricate web of nature takes some time to become evident.......This priceless legacy must continue to touch and enchant our lives and elevate us to be gracious creatures that could provide the glimmer and hope for all."

5. A Little Piece of Heaven by Anansa Jacob (The Sun 12 Jan 2005)

Our region's tropical rainforests have been referred to by conservationists and scientists as a God-given natural treasure. With lush sprawling greenery, cool waterfalls and teeming with flora and fauna, it is no surprise that nature lovers from around the globe frequently visit our rainforests to experience a taste of tropical Eden. However, the importance of preserving this natural heritage is largely lost upon the general populace. Therefore, it is up to the conservationists to remind peple of what they have before it all disappears.

Dr Chua Ee Kiam, a nature lover has dedicated his time and effort to photographing the natural environments of both Singapore and Malaysia. "The story I am trying to tell is not just a Malaysian or Singaporean story, but a global one. I want to make people aware of issues like conservation, the dangers of poaching and others issues."


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