The Mias District.
the lower part of the Sadong valley it abounds ; but as soon as we ascend above the limits of the tides, where the country, though still flat, is high enough to be dry, it disappears. Now the Sarawak valley has this peculiarity: the lower portion, though swampy, is not covered with continuous lofty forest, but is principally occupied by the Nypa palm; and near the town of Sarawak, where the country becomes dry, it is greatly undulated in many parts, and covered with small patches of virgin forest, and much second-growth jungle on ground which has once been cultivated by the Malays or Dyaks.
Now it seems to me probable that a wide extent of unbroken and equally lofty virgin forests is necessary to the comfortable existence of these animals. Such forests form their open country, where they can roam in every direction with as much facility as the Indian on the prairie, or the Arab on the desert; passing from tree-top to tree-top without ever being obliged to descend upon the earth. The elevated and the drier districts are more frequented by man, more cut up by clearings and low second-growth jungle not adapted to its peculiar modes of progression, and where it would therefore be more exposed to danger, and more frequently obliged to descend upon the earth. There is probably also a greater variety of fruit in the mias district, the small mountains, which rise like islands out of it, serving as a sort of gardens or plantations, where the trees of the uplands are to be found in the very midst of the swampy plains.
It is a singular and very interesting sight to watch a mias making his way leisurely through the forest. He walks deliberately along some of the larger branches, in the semi-erect attitude which the great length of his arms and the shortness of his legs cause him naturally to assume ; and the disproportion between these limbs is increased by his walking on his knuckles, not on the palm of the hand, as we should do. He seems always to choose those branches which intermingle with an adjoining tree, on approaching which he stretches out his long arms, and, seizing the opposing boughs, grasps them together with both hands, seems to try their strength, and then deliberately swings himself across to the. next branch, on which he walks along as before. He never