Located in Tamparuli, 28 kilometers from Kota Kinabalu (formerly Jesselton) city center, the capital of Sabah (formerly North Borneo), there lay a haphazard looking place. Your initial thought is; this place looks like a rundown barn house! It is surrounded by unkempt puddles and ponds! However, Borneo Eco-House is meant to look that way.
The owner of this place; Jeffrey Soo will be glad to teach you a thing or two about why he kept his place like this. He will take you for a short journey inside this place which he calls home imparting valuable wisdom that you would be thankful to him after the journey is over.
He started off by showing me an aquarium. He told me that the aquarium is like a micro world resembling his place, the Borneo Eco-House, or the district of Tuaran, where his house is located, or it could be the micro representation of the planet earth. All we had to do is to understand the simple yet complex things about his aquarium.
Here at Borneo Eco-house, he told me his aquariums don’t need any air pump and mechanical or chemical filtration. Based on the Chinese principle of Feng Shui, this aquarium could sustain itself without so much interference. All he needs are the balance of using fire (light), air, wood (vegetation) and earth.
He told me his aquariums managed to sustain itself for years without having him to change or interfere with the contents. He proudly told me his freshwater shrimps could breed in his captive aquarium; something which is quite difficult in normal circumstances. The reason; perfect balance and harmony within his aquariums!
Things might look haphazard or disorderly inside his aquarium but that is nature; according to him. For example; some dead leaves still attached to the plants inside the aquarium. This does not give us a good reason to clean it up just to look tidy. It might disturb the roots or stressed the organism inside if we try to “keep it neat” according to our own definition. Nature looks disorderly; but actually they are systematic.
The same thing happens to his Borneo Eco-House. One thing I noticed; there aren’t any mosquitoes every time I came to his place here! He told me to look around and figure out; why aren’t there any mosquitoes here? I told him; I have no idea. He asked me to guess. I thought for a while. “Ah! You have plants like Pandan which is a natural repellant for mosquitoes!” I was proud of my answer.
He laughed and explained to me; here at Borneo Eco-House, the place is surrounded by ponds. He told me he deliberately made this place low to encourage the build-up of ponds. Surrounded by wetlands, the place is an ideal ground for dragonflies to breed. Since there are many dragonflies, the population of mosquitoes is controlled. This is because each dragonfly could consume hundreds of mosquitoes while flying!
Nowadays people just fill up mangrove swarms, ponds and wetlands in the name of development! To them, natural wetlands are wastelands! All these reclaimed lands are then converted into housing estates. Natural landscapes turned into concrete jungles! That is why, according to Jeffrey Soo; the population of mosquitoes exploded. There are no longer any places for natural predators of mosquitoes such as dragonflies to breed!
Jeffrey Soo gave a very vivid example using his aquariums and his Borneo Eco-House to explain what ecology is all about. On a bigger scale, the same thing could be use to understand the planet earth. Human beings are egoistic; according to Jeffrey Soo. They think highly of themselves while totally ignoring the flora and fauna of the earth. Humans only want to enslave nature; not to live in harmony with them. Unlike his aquariums (which can sustained itself), the planet earth will soon choke itself to death because humans don’t care about the balance of nature.