Bruno Manser, who was Sarawak’s most wanted man in the 1990s and went missing in the tropical rainforests inhabited by the Penan community in the Upper Baram area has been a rare honour.
A team of Swiss scientists have named two recently discovered animal species in the tropical rainforests of Borneo after Manser.
The Natural History Museum of Berne, Switzerland, made the announcement today, on the occasion of Manser’s 60th birthday.
The two new species are a spider of the goblin spider genus (right) Aposphragisma, named Aposphragisma brunomanseri, and the Murud black slender toad, Ansonia vidua.
Both species have been found in the rainforests of Sarawak.
Aposphragisma brunomanseri was collected by a Dutch-Swiss research expedition in western Sarawak in the 1990s and was highlighted at a recent international research effort by zoologist Marco Thoma from Berne’s Natural History Museum.
“The species epithet is dedicated to Bruno Manser, a Swiss environmental activist and ethnologist, most famous for his support of the nomadic Penan people against the destruction of the pristine rain forest in the Malaysian state of Sarawak,” the Natural History Museum of Berne said in a statement.
The Murud black slender toad, Ansonia vidua, was discovered in Sarawak’s Pulong Tau National Park during an international expedition headed by Dr Stefan Hertwig from the Natural History Museum of Berne and Berne University’s Institute for Ecology and Evolution.
The new species was discovered during a night excursion near a river, at an altitude of 2,150 metres on the Gunung Murud mountain, in the region where Manser went missing.
Friends believe Manser was murdered
Manser was born on Aug 25, 1954, in Basel, Switzerland. From 1984 to 1990, he lived in Sarawak with the Penan, Southeast Asia’s last nomadic hunter-gatherers.
After returning to Switzerland, he founded the Bruno Manser Fund, a human rights and environmental organisation that champions the rights of Sarawak’s indigenous peoples.
Manser has been missing since his last trip to Borneo in May 2000. His friends believe he was murdered.
The honouring of Manser is not only going to embarrass the Sarawak government, but will also further harden its hatred against Manser and the fund he established.