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The morning usually begins at 22 degrees Celsius, warming to 30 degrees Celsius, by mid-day. But what about the humidity ? Yes, that is high -- almost at saturation in the morning but decreases markedly as the temperature rises. And what about the venomous snakes, leeches, mosquitoes, dreadful diseases, and big cats ? wouldn't these distract people from nature walks in the forest, much less camping overnight ? These are all a part of widely held perceptions of 'jungles' or tropical rainforests. a few people perhaps would be fascinated by such perceived dangers. But, if nature tourism is to develop to significant levels in Malaysia, the truth must be told.

Take snakes for example. Malaysia has an enormous variety of species, some with spectacular colors. Some are venomous, but not dangerous if left unmolested. Even the famous king cobra will go its own way, and if severely provoked, often strikes with its mouth closed, as a warning. What about the leeches ? A good insecticide applied on your shoes and socks will deter them. In the drier places in the forest, leeches are not such a big problem. In the wetter areas, experienced hikers will frequently check their shoes and socks for these affectionate creatures. They are very democratic and will not show the slightest discrimination toward foreigners or natives !

As for mosquitoes, the forest has hundreds of species, some with elaborate feeding habits. But mosquitoes that bite humans live in places where humans are normally available to bite ! In the forest, the numbers of species are many, but individuals within species are few. So, one does not often encounter an individual mosquito prone to bite  a human. what of the famous and dreaded tropical diseases? Most are difficult to spell and even more difficult to pronounce: e.g. schisotosomiasis, leptospirosis. every 'jungle warfare' book includes episodes of fevers, rashes or delirium.

Malaysia is blessed with having relatively few of the tropical disease problems encountered elsewhere in the world. Only in a few areas, malaria is still a problem and precautions against this disease should be taken according to advice from health officials. Fortunately, vector mosquitoes are shy biters and will approach humans only when they are very still, usually asleep at night. That means if a bed net or window screens are sued, the danger is greatly reduce. And what about the big cats, the tiger and leopard ? With the dramatic reduction of forests, these grand species have become extremely scarce and are seldom encountered. They avoid humans, because the survivors are predisposed to do so. Those that weren't predisposed didn't survive. Most naturalists will not be fortunate enough to get a glimpse of one. In Sabah and Sarawak, they are not known to occur.

Sabah and Sarawak have more species of trees than any other areas of equivalent size in the world, over 3500 species. Many of them are top quality timber trees fetching a six times higher price on the average than their nearest competitors in South America. Moreover, one tree may harbor dozens of species of epiphytes, including orchids, ferns and mosses. Among this myriad of plant species live an equally bewildering number of animal species, many of which are still unknown to science. In the Malaysian tropical rainforests, the vast majority of animals cannot be seen in any zoo.

 
  1.

Give two examples of the common perceptions about the tropical rainforests of Malaysia.

  2.

(a) What 'truths' must be told to potential visitors to the rainforests ?

(b) Why

  3.

In the sentence 'They are very democratic and will not show the slightest discrimination towards foreigners or natives',

(a) what does the word 'they' refer to ?

(b) what is meant by 'will not show the slightest discrimination' ?

  4.

(a) How can we convince the foreigners not to be unnecessarily worried about tropical diseases in our jungle ?

(b) What precautions can be taken ?

  5.

In the sentence 'Most naturalists will not be fortunate enough to get a glimpse of one',

(a) what does 'one' refer to ?

(b) why do most naturalists 'will not be fortunate enough to meet it' ?

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Answers
 

1.

(i) The rainforests are full of venomous snakes and wild animals.

(ii) There are dreadful diseases easily contracted by visitors.

 

2.

(a) The truths are that most snakes are not venomous and those venomous ones are only dangerous if disturbed.

(b) It is to promote nature tourism.

 

3.

(a) It refers to the leeches.

(b) They will pick anybody to feed on without fuss.

 

4.

(a) Tropical diseases in our forests are relatively few and are confined to some areas.

(b) Precautions like the use of a bed net or window screens can be taken.

 

5.

(a) Wild animals.

(b) The number has declined greatly due to widespread deforestation.

 
 
 
 
 

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Comprehension 1

 

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