In a jungle full of predators, the value of camouflage is never overrated. With roaming hunters like stealthy mammals, tree-climbing lizards, and keen-eyed birds, staying alive at the bottom of the food chain is a full-time occupation.Many creatures maximize their odds of survival by mimicking their surroundings, be it a leaf, tree bark, or just about anything that in the forest that is less palatable than themselves. The best disguises are those that are tailored to match the wearer’s specific habitats so that nothing seems out of place. When combined with clever, cryptic behaviour, this can render near invisibility. With so much at stake, it’s no wonder that many such denizens of Sarawak’s rainforests seldom reveal themselves to the casual visitor. But those who take the time necessary for careful observation will often be rewarded with a glimpse of these wondrous hidden creatures.
As if its mottled coloration weren’t enough, the frilled edging on the wings of this moth break up its outline and make it difficult to tell where tree bark ends and insect begins. Active only by night, these moths rest by day on the trunks of trees and escape detection from all but the keenest-eyed predators.
Within the microcosm of a mossy tree stump, a tiny hidden predator lies patiently in wait. Still a juvenile, this praying mantis will eventually mature and shed most of its moss-like camouflage in favor of fully developed wings.
The large and diverse family of katydids comprise hundreds of species in Sarawak, all of which sport splendid camouflage. This individual has selected a leaf which almost perfectly matches the rippled patterns on its wings, rendering it nearly invisible.
Flying through the forest on brightly- coloured orange and blue wings may be a great way to show off to potential mates, but when faced with agile predators such as insect-hawking birds, the Malaysian Leaf Butterfly has a remarkable defense strategy. Perching and closing its wings to hide their colorful upper surface, the butterfly instantly transforms into a dead leaf. It will remain motionless until the threat has passed.
Appearing little more than a clump of dead leaves stuck on a branch, a pair of Dulit Frogmouths perches on their nest among the shady branches of the forest canopy. This rare bird is known from only a handful of records, most from northern Sarawak.
This Long-tongued Nectar Bat and several other native bat species play an essential role in the pollination of many rainforest trees, and are invaluable for the productivity of durian plantations.
With a background in biology and envi- ronmental education, wildlife photo- grapher Ch'ien Lee made the move from California to Kuching in 1996, fulfilling a life-long dream of living in the tropics. His images of South-East Asian nature have been widely published internationally and he continually strives to use imagery as a means of raising awareness about the astounding flora and fauna that we share this planet with.