Monday, 30 July 2018

PYGMY: The Exotic Elephant from Borneo

Pygmy Elephant at the Lok Kawi Zoo

Pygmy can be an adjective used in names of plants and animals that are much smaller than more typical kinds. In Borneo, you could find pygmy rhinos, pygmy pythons and pygmy elephants. Sadly, pygmy rhinos had gone extinct in 2017 and the other pygmies are also facing extinction; if no efforts are made to protect them. 

I used to think; in order to see elephants in the wild we have to go to either Africa or India. It never crossed my mind that this magnificent creature is roaming in our own backyard in Borneo! Actually elephants can be found not only in Africa or India, but also in most parts of Southeast Asia. In India and Thailand, elephants are tamed so that they could be used as a transporter of people and cargos. In ancient time, they played the role as armored tanks in battle. The most famous story was elephants used by the Carthaginian against the Roman in the Punic War. 

Our Pygmy Elephant also known as Borneo Elephant is a subspecies of the Asian Elephant. Presently, it is confined to the northern parts of Borneo; in the east coast of North Borneo (Sabah) as well as northeast Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo). Wild elephants in Borneo seem to roam only within these areas despite having access to suitable habitat elsewhere. Some researchers say that Borneo Elephant is endemic to this island and therefore unique. Others said it was an introduced species brought in by the Sultan of Sulu in the 18th century and later released into the wilderness of Borneo. But DNA testing made confirmed this animal indeed had been in Borneo for a very long time but this issue is still debatable.

But one fact remains true; the population of wild elephants in Borneo is rapidly diminishing. There are only 2000 Pygmy elephants left in the wild and captivity. In North Borneo, there were unfortunate series of elephant deaths happening within the last few years. In 2013, there were 14 elephants that died after being poison. In early 2018, 6 elephants died due to an unknown disease and later a juvenile elephant was found death after being shot at close range. 

Expanding human population is creating habitat loss for these elephants as the human disrupt their migration routes and deplete their food sources. Thus these elephants had no choice but to encroach into human settlements in search of food; creating human-elephant conflicts. The major culprits for the elephant misery are the logging activities as well as the land clearing for palm oil plantations. 

The government of North Borneo says they want to promote tourism because of the unique and endemic diversities of Borneo rainforest that offers a lot of interesting sights for tourists and visitors. Yet they destroy these sceneries by giving a free hand to logging and plantation companies to rape the environment! I implore to the government to stop the expansion of logging and plantation activities; once and for all. The remaining forests should be protected at all cost. The government must also rehabilitate wide swath of lands that had been destroyed due to these activities and replaced them through reforestation exercises using local species of plants. Only then can we hope to see the return of wild animals to our forest and reverse the possibility of their extinction. 

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Monday, 23 July 2018

THE EURASIANS: Review within Review

It had been slightly over a year (March 2017) that my novel, The Eurasians had been reviewed by Blueink Review. It was a mixed review and only this year I understood the weaknesses and the strength of my story. I wish to thank them (the reviewer) for this and now I have tips of how to write my next book.

“However it is missing a clear definitive plot to drive the novel” was one of those negative feedback. It went on to say, “But despite such enhancements, the story lacks a powerful narrative arc.” In other words, my romance-thriller novel is unpredictable. So unpredictable that it cannot “Provide a spark that sustains audience interest this failing will likely prove hard for readers to surmount.”
But the review also mentioned, “Betrayals, deception and corruption drive The Eurasians.” As you continue reading you will find, “This sprawling story shifts often from action scene to action scene, and the narrative perspective changes from chapter to chapter.” From these statements I can conclude indeed this book is a page turner. 

As I said before; my story beginning with the first several chapters are rather flat. There is nothing exciting to sustain readers’ interest. But if they are patient, they will discover the spark, and then; bang! Fireworks all the way until the end! Here are those chapters that shift from action scene to action scene. 

This is the first English romance-thriller novel from Borneo that mostly takes place in Malaysia since 1964. “In the book’s opening scene, British soldier Aaron Johnson is wounded while assisting Malaysian soldiers in battling Indonesian troops. Elsewhere, Mei Ling decides to escape her dismal life of poverty to gamble, drink, and sleep around, renaming herself Elaine for her job as a night hostess in Sandakan. After Aaron meets Elaine, he decides to marry her. But his troubles begin immediately as Elaine continuously gambles away all the money Aaron makes.” The backdrop of this novel is historical, political and environmental which help to summarize what Borneo is all about. Thus this book is also useful for people who want to know more about this enchanted island.

THE EURASIANS by Don Peter is published by Partridge Publishing since 2015. It has 296 pages and printed in paperback, hardcover and e-book format. Please log on to my website at for more details.