Written by Alvin Danker(Local Tour Guide extraordinaire)
To true animal lovers everywhere,
WHO? The endangered Orangutan sub species, Pongo pygmaeus pygmaeus(Bornean Orangutan) facing high risk of extinction
WHERE ? Jingin, Delok and Menyang(Sarawak, Borneo)
The last of the Iban owned, wilderness river valley communities in Batang Ai, where the world’s most threatened Orangutan sub species still roam free ‘out side’ the Batang Ai National Park borders!!!!
Paradoxically this is due to the hundreds of years of Iban hill rice cultivation followed by their inevitable fruit tree cultivation, which I believe is one of the reasons why, wild Orangutan sightings are more common here, than in the national park proper.
WHY? Less than 2 years ago. A proposal to log and plant oil palm in these three valleys, was approved by the govermnent. Needless to say ( but I’m going to say it anyway) that would have been the end of the very territorial Orangutan and the vast majority of the other wildlife. What would be even more damaging is that, the national park itself would be laid waste by sharing a border with an oil palm plantation with all the destruction, seen or unseen, admitted or denied, that comes with it.
I was not alone to have heaved a sigh of of relief when a ‘miracle’ happened and the planned oil palm plantation was turned instead, into ‘a ‘proposed’ special extension of the national park’.
SO? Today, almost 2 years later, nothing has really changed. The bulldozers and excavators of the logging and their ‘red ribbon’ scars can be seen, from the Batang Ai Longhouse Resort, even this minute, advancing along the Sarawak/Kalimantan border, towards these three valleys that protect the national park.
Not only the voices for conservation but also the voices of common sense cry out to our gracious right honourable leaders, “why plant palm oil in the last wilderness area in the world, where the most threatened sub species of Orangutan still roam free, in densities that are probably higher than Batang Ai National Park itself. Why?