Ficus benjamina growing as a hemi-epiphytic strangler on a large tree on the the limestone hill in the center of the Royal Mulu Resort in N. Sarawak. There is a boardwalk around the hill which was covered in fallen figs and leaves dropped by feeding bats and birds when we visited in December 2013. This large Ficus benjamina will eventually strangle the host tree and be able to stand alone. Note the difference leaf colour between the strangler (light green) and the host tree (slightly darker green).

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Note the pulpy mass in the top right hand corner of this photo. This  is a wad of fibre and seeds dropped by a small fruit bat that came to feed on the ripe figs. Bats use their tongues to press the fig pulp against the top of their mouth and separate the juice from the fiber. The wad is spat out by the bat and falls below the feeding perch. This means that the fruit bat does not have to fly around carrying a heavy load of useless fiber. In contrast large birds such as hornbills and imperial pigeons birds swallow figs whole and so make better long distance dispersers of fig seeds than bats.

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Mulu Map

north Sarawak Map