A Taste of Highlands Flora and Fauna

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I’m running out of time today, so I’m going to throw a bunch of images at you with little comment. These are from my recent trip to The Papua New Guinea highlands near Madang. The base at Ukarumpa (SIL) was familiar to me when my son was attending high school. We made the 466 kilometre round-trip every three weeks.

Here are some lilies in someone’s yard:

Lilies at Ukarumpa

Ukarumpa looks a lot like a little Kentucky town plopped down in PNG. Though it contains a variety of nationalities, it feels very American to me – no problem, if you like it. I prefer my surroundings a little less familiar and a little more exotic.

When I saw this little bush, I thought the leaves were pinkish. When I looked closer, I noticed that there were tiny red flowers between the bases of the leaves. On the flowers are tinier black bugs crawling around:

Tiny red flowers at Ukarumpa

The entire image above is only about three centimetres.

Here is a nice yellow flower without much special appeal, except, if you look at the small white dot to the upper left of the centre you will see a scale insect: (click to enlarge)

Yellow flower with scale insect

These captured my attention for their intense colour. There was no sun when I took this shot. The colours were so bright that they overload the capacity of the camera. They nearly overload the capacity of my eyes also. Like the old Jerry Seinfeld joke, “You don’t stare at it, you get a sense of it and look away”.

Day-glow Orange flowers

Here is a nice, big, juicy yellow spider for you:

Big juicy spider

It was about the size of a golf ball, nowhere near as big as I’ve seen elsewhere. A hand-sized spider would not be unusual in the lowland rainforest.

What is interesting about this spider image is that you can see that it is ‘listening’ to its web:

Spider listening to its web

It holds a special web filament that is connected just so to the rest of the web. This filament transmits any vibrations of prey landing on the net to the spider’s ‘ear’ leg.

I threw a hapless ant into the web. You can guess the outcome.

I know. I should grow up.

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3 Responses to “A Taste of Highlands Flora and Fauna”

  1. Wencke Says:

    I would have loved to see the outcome 😉 well, at least the sprint of the spider…

  2. James Macpherson Says:

    I used to live in Goroka – and my wife is from Unggai – so reading about Ukarumpa takes me home a bit.

    Immediately, I am reviewing the legislation under which the PNG fire Service works, and want to make sure that partner fire brigades (such as that at Ukarumpa) are given necessary support through the new legislation.

    Can you send me a name, and contact address – email and fax.


    Jim Macpherson

  3. MadDog Says:

    Congratulations to you, James, for having the fortitude to live in Goroka. It is a beautiful place, but, being a nambis boi, I freeze whenever I get above a mile high. James, please send me an email with your request to jan@messersmith.name. I’ll forward it to our administration in Madang and they will respond to you with the contact name you need.

    Thanks for the good work you are doing to improve the Fire Service in Madang. At present it is pretty ineffective. We have had many fires in the thirty years I have lived there. I cannot think of a single building which was saved. It seems to me that the response time if far to slow and the equipment is inadequate. Those fellows could use all the help they can get.