Ficus sagittata is a root climbing liana which grows from ground level, high up into the sunlight of the canopy.
At Tawau Hills Park (THP) Ficus sagittata is common but not particularly noticeable until it fruits when the branches become covered in bright crimson figs.
One such giant sagittata liana is hosted by a 60 m tall Shorea johorensis dipterocarp growing next to Park HQ at THP.
This particular liana fruited in March 2022 and again in March 2023.
On both occasions the ripe figs attracted an abundance of animals including 2 species of barbets, 3 species of hornbills , red langurs, macaques and as well as the local gibbon family.
Gibbons live in small families, consisting of a pair and their offspring normally a maximum of four individuals at any one time. Gibbon families are strictly territorial and defend their territories against other gibbon families with loud morning calls. Although gibbons eat a wide range of fruit, figs provide both a staple diet and a fall back food during lean periods when other fruit trees are barren.
Thus the density of figs in any area of forest in Borneo determines the density of the gibbon population in that same area of forest.
Therefore it is not surprising that the fig dense forest at Tawau Hills supports a high density of gibbons.
Because gibbon territories are relatively stable it is possible to monitor the history of each gibbon family year after year.
All photos and information thanks to Shavez Cheema, Chun Xing WONG and Yulinda Wahyuni of 1 Stop Borneo Wildlife
A year later in March 2023 when the Ficus sagittata fruited again the same gibbon family appear to be thriving.