One of the neatest things that we did in Langkawi last week was take a tour of the mangroves with the hotel's naturalist. Mangroves grow where the sea meets the border of the rain forest. There are 23 species of trees in this particular area which have adapted to take in salt water instead of fresh. Many of them have crazy cool root systems, which are homes to all sorts of crabs, mudskippers and other crawly things.
While on the tour, we saw a feeding of kites, which are birds that kind of look like eagles, except their legs and claws have no feathers. The feeding boat dropped a bunch of chicken necks in the water and a tremendous amount of birds came swooping in out of nowhere. Apparently, the government started this kite feeding program a few years ago. There was an ecosystem imbalance at the time and the birds were starving. As a result, they started attacking Malaysian Airlines planes, which did not go so well for the birds. Now that the mangroves have recovered from their earlier trauma, natural food is back for the birds. So the government needs to wean them off of the free chicken necks. It made a good show, though.
This little guy was hiding in the trees as we floated by in our boat. He looked to see if we had food, and then sauntered off when he discovered we had nothing to offer. Apparently monkeys cannot digest bread products (unlike fish), so they can get really sick when tourists feed them. A fed monkey can get kidney ailments and other horrible diseases. Yet people still float by and toss these little guys slices of bread, hoping to see a show. Aren't humans lovely?
More pictures of our Mangrove tour are available here.