Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Half A Loaf Is Better Than None

Between busy and lazy. a lot of time has lapsed since my last posting. So here I am again. Don't worry, I am not going to talk about bread. Let my story unfold and you will see why the title.

Whenever KC and I have a little time on our hands but not enough to go really far, we will take a drive around the industrial area in Kamunting. Some of the old tin mining pools are still intact. The sandy ground with its grass and bushes have created an open country habitat that is home to hundreds of Jungle Mynas and other birds Friends visiting from Australia had once said that they have never seen so many mynas in one spot before.

To others, mynas are a dime a dozen and not worth a second look. To KC and I, a flock of mynas holds the potential of a rare myna or starling especially during migration season. Today, we are rewarded with something rare, an abberant myna. Though not a species on its own, it is nonetheless rare, hence half a loaf is better than none.

These two birds differ only in colouration


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Temengor, the land of hornbills

This is a love story, the story of my happy times in the Belum-Temengor forests. It all started with volunteering in a hornbill survey and ended up a love-affair that lasted from 2004 till today. Even as I sit here sharing with you I yearn to be back there. Through my pictures, I hope you will understand, why this love affair has lasted all these years.

Temengor, shrouded in morning mist


At dawn, as the mist lifts, the hornbills take to the sky


Temengor forest in a blaze of colours


When in Temengor, you are among giants.
The tiny greenish dot at the base of the tree is me.

A privilege to be in Temengor
I was very privileged to be able to visit Temengor. When I am there, I can forget my work and my stressful life in town. I can pretend to be Tarzan's Jane. I am in my own reality show. Don't help me, I am not a celebrity.

In the words of Robert Louis Stevenson,
"The Vagabond"

Give to me the life I love,

Let the lave go by me,
Give the jolly heaven above
And the byway nigh me.

Bed in the bush with stars to see,


Bread I dip in the river

There's the life for a man like me;

There's the life for ever.


Let the blow fall soon or late,
Let what will be o'er me;

Give the face of earth around

And the road before me.

Wealth I seek not, hope nor love,

Nor a friend to know me

All I seek, the heaven above

And the road below me.


Or let autumn fall on me

Where afield I linger,

Silencing the bird on tree,

Biting the blue finger.

White as meal the frosty field -

Warm the fireside haven -

Not to autumn will I yield,

Not to winter even!


What's happening in Temengor?

These photos were taken during my trips into Temengor. I have not been there lately but logging is still going on. Take a drive on the east-west highway today. You are bound to see lorries laden with timber.
Without fail everyday, I passed barges stacked high with logs. Each barge carries enough logs to fill 20 lorries. Each day. I can see at least two such barges heading for the mainland on the east-west highway.

A completely bald hill after the loggers are through with it




Tracks for lorries to haul out the logs turn into mush during the raining season. These together with the skid trails and patches of open ground where trees have been removed become the source of runoff which turn rivers into "streams of blood".

Where the logging camps are, vast areas are clear felled to make room for their "kongsi" houses and for log ponds. These are almost always by the lake side to make transporting log out easier. Another source of run off into the lake during the wet season, besides lost of habitats to both plants and animals.

Logging debris clog up rivers when logging occurs near rivers or the lake.


Rivers turn red, as if Mother Nature is bleeding from the gash man made in the forest. Fish and other aquatic life suffocate in silt laden rivers. Livelihood and lives are threatened when, the people of Temengor's source of food is wiped out by such pollution.





The people of Temengor
They are the gentlest people I have ever met. They know the forests like the back of their hands. For many of them, the forest is the only place they know.They have been in Temengor long before any other Malaysians has even set foot on the peninsula. They are the true sons of the earth. The forests and everything in it belongs to them.

Life is hard when you depend on a fast disappearing forest for food. You and your family walk miles, carrying everything you own with you. Every where you look, unsrupulous outsiders with their chainsaws and big machines are tearing the world you knew apart. All that's left is more hardships.


Outsiders created the lake and took your rivers away. You adapted. You now depend on the lakes for your daily washing.

You depend on the lake for transport

You depend on the lake for food but outsiders come in their fast boats. They fish for sport. You fish to live. How can you hope to compete with their modern rods and lines?

You depend on the lake but the lake is being contaminated with silt from logging

You keep your distance. You look at me with suspicion. Can I blame you?

What kind of a future are we leaving you?


The last refrain

Let the blow fall soon or late,

Let what will be o'er me;

Give the face of earth around,

And the road before me.

Wealth I ask not, hope nor love,

Nor a friend to know me;

All I ask the heaven above,

And the road below me.


Don't let the sun set permanently on Belum-Temengor. Help save it for our future generations.