There are two individual Ficus kerkhovenii figs growing  next to the main road just outside the  the Maliau Basin Study centre in Sabah. Both individuals can be seen in the photo above.

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This individual F. kerkhovenii which is the one furthest away from the Study Centre appears to have strangled  the host tree and is now growing on it’s own.
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This individual F. kerkhovenii  which is the one closest to the Study Centre appears to be growing on a single massive  (originally hanging)  root adjacent to the trunk of the host. The different colour foliage of the two trees  can be seen clearly seen. From this angle at least the fig appears to be dominant.

According to Harrison  et al (2003) a study at Lambir  (Sarawak) found that  Ficus kerkhovenii was the only common hemi-epiphytic fig at Lambir that actually  killed it’s host tree by dropping multiple hanging roots to the ground. Once these  hanging roots have become established in the ground then the fig rapidly  uses its roots to  “strangle” the host tree at a collar just below the establishment site of the fig in the canopy (usually the collar  is at first branch level) . The host tree soon dies and the fig replaces it.

At Maliau an additional large strangler Ficus forstenii seems to be equally common and uses a similar  collar strangling technique. Two additional stranglers Ficus caulocarpa and Ficus virens (both common at Maliau)  use a dense network of anastomosing roots to strangle the host tree. Ficus virens with anastomosing roots at Maliau. 

These different strangling techniques can be useful for identification.

However the majority of hemi-epiphytic figs at Maliau are not stranglers but kleptocrats or parasites. Once these kleptocrat figs  have got a hold on a branch  on a host tree they drop down a single root to the ground. The  unfortunate host continues to provide support whilst the fig steals water  and minerals from the ground  next to the host and sunlight in the canopy.  Because the fig continues to rely on the host to provide physical support it has no interest in killing the host.

Harrison et al (2003) The diversity of hemi-epiphytic figs at Lambir