An afternoon view from the Kokol Ridge looking south west over the city of Kota Kinabalu. The islands of the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park in the background are (left to right) Sulug, Mamutik, Manukan and Gaya. Note that whilst the sky above the town is clear, the Kokol Ridge itself is just below the cloud layer and is about to be hit by heavy rain and engulfed in clouds for the rest of the afternoon.
The Kokol Ridge is just north of Kota Kinabalu behind the town of Telipok. The Kokol Ridge can be accessed by a road up to the telecoms tower on the highest point on the ridge c. 825 m. asl.
The construction of the telecom tower access road resulted in a building boom of weekend cottages for city dwellers hoping to escape from the heat and dust of Kota Kinabalu. If you are happy with cool afternoons this sounds like a good idea until you realize that most of the afternoons your house will be surrounded by clouds of mist and rain !
View of Mount Kinabalu from the Kokol Ridge. Note that most of the steep hillsides between the Kokol Ridge and Kinabalu have been deforested by centuries of slash and burn swidden farming for hill rice. More recently much of the lower slopes have been converted to rubber trees Hevea braziliensis which is often left untapped due to a shortage of labour.
However not all the original forest is gone and there are patches of forest remaining on many ridge tops and on the slopes of steep valleys. This patchwork of very wet secondary and virgin primary forest is often very rich in figs as long as the original animal dispersers have not been hunted out. Unfortunately hornbills are often the first to be shot and when this happens the population of large stranglers collapses.
The 3 most common figs on the ridge are Ficus aurata and Ficus fulva (which are both lowland species) and Ficus brunneoaurata which is a Borneo endemic confined to secondary forest in the hills. Ficus aurata is believed to be dispersed by rhinos (now extinct in Sabah) but Ficus fulva and Ficus brunneoaurata are dispersed by civets which can survive in this degraded forest habitat.
The normal habitat of Ficus macilenta var gibbsiae is mountain ridge tops, so the Kokol Ridge at 825 m asl is at the lower limit of it’s range.
Finally Ficus corneri: A very rare liana of primary hill forest here wrongly named as Ficus acamptophylla. Bukit Tompurungon where this fig was collected in July 1986 is believed to be the Kadazan name for the highest point on Kokol Ridge.