The red arrow points to the tallest tree on Snake Island a Ficus drupacea strangling fig. This tree hosts an active White-bellied Sea Eagle nest.

Snake Island is a tiny island in the Pulau Tiga Marine Park 55  km south of Kota Kinabalu on the west coast of Sabah, Malaysian Borneo.

The vegetation of Snake Island was first surveyed on 4 January 2007.

The first vegetation survey found only 2 large fig trees on the island. One very large Ficus microcarpa and a young Ficus drupacea. Overall the vegetation was dominated by Pisonia grandis trees  dispersed by Frigate Birds which roost on the island.

This article describes  a second vegetation survey carried out  14 years later on 22 December 2020 by Chung Xing Wong and Shavez Cheema of 1Stop Borneo Wildlife.

In summary

  1. The Pisonia grandis trees have nearly all died and the vegetation is dominated by numerous strangling figs of  all ages and sizes including numerous seedlings
  2. Three species of strangling figs were present. Ficus drupacea which is dominant, Ficus microcarpa which is very common and Ficus virens ( 3 individuals present).
  3. Seedlings are present showing active regeneration and competition.
  4.  The large Ficus microcarpa which was the largest tree on the island in 2007 and which hosted a White-bellied Sea Eagles nest has disappeared and the sea eagles have built a new nest in the Ficus drupacea which is now the largest tree on the island.
  5. Due to the density of fig trees, this tiny island probably hosts the highest density of strangling figs in Borneo.

Sapling Ficus drupacea. Many young strangling figs seedlings were found during the survey.