Afternoon in the Lower Kinabatangan Valley
It is now the month of May and the rains had stopped for
a month now. It is getting hot and dry. Baby Orang Utan, SiMat
is very restless. He was jumping about and pleading with his
mother. "Mak, Mak, Please take me down to the River for
a drink, I am really very thirsty.". "SiMat, there
is no way you can drink the water from the river. Look at
it. The water is all brown like kopi susu (Coffee
with milk)." , "Mak, that will be alright, after
all I like milk very much.". "You stupid boy,the
brown colour of the water is not milk but MUD and silt."
. "Mak, how come the silt gets into the water and makes
it brown in colour.?"." Mat,you are asking too many
questions." "Dear" said Father Orang Utan,
"we must not stop the child asking questions. It is by
asking questions that he will learn.". "Well, dear,
Simat is your son too. I am sleepy and tired. You answer his
questions." "Some how I always feel that the man
of the house must do some thing about his childs education!
Do not tell me I am not doing my part to bring up the child."
"Well. Simat about 8 years ago, you can actually
see the bottom of the Kinabatangan River. The water is so
clear that you can see fishes and prawns swimming at the bottom
of the River.. The water was good for drinking. You know the
early Chinese who came with Admiral Cheng Ho in the Chinese
Armada in 1403 A.D. actually called the Kinabatangan
the River with the fresh water ! (Tham Swee Ho). Till today,
the Chinese still call the Kinabatangan by its Chinese Name,
Tham Swee Ho.". "Ayah, you have still not explain
why the water in the River is kopi susu in colour."
Said the impatient Simat.
"Simat, do you hear the sound of the chain saws going
the whole day long and also at night? What do you think the
human beings are doing?" "They are cutting down
the trees that is what they are doing.". "Yes, they
are cutting down the trees to sell the logs and also
to make plantations.". "Pak, I thought all the animals
in the jungle had said that the jungle is their home. By cutting
down the jungle, where are we going to live?". "Simat,
do you think the human beings care for us animals they
do not care for us a single bit all they want is to
get rich.. Getting rich is alright as long as no harms come
to others who make their home in the jungle. See, you do not
have clear water to drink now. The land after it is cleared
of jungle will be exposed to the elements of the weather and
soil erosion will take place, and before long the land lost
so much of its fertile top layers, that what is left is no
good for growing any thing. Serve the humans right if they
cannot grow any food but we. The animals will also
lose our food supplies too. Logging is bad for the land and
bad for us the wildlife. Destroying our habitat is as good
as destroying us."
"Here, Here! that is good that you are teaching
your son, a little about environment awareness." Said
Father Beaded Pig who happened to be sleeping at the base
of the tree where the Orang Utan family was on. "Do you
know some thing more about the harm caused by cutting down
the trees? Well, without a forest cover, the rain drop directly
on the soil and cause erosion. As there is no roots or plants
to slow down the flow of the water flowing down the slopes
of hills the water simply rush down and cause flash
floods. My Grandfather told me in the old days when the floods
do come they come slowly and not in a rush. Now there is yearly
flooding of the Kinabatangan. The level of water rises very
fast and very high causing great damages and lost of human
lives. Well, we do not care much for the lost of human lives,
it is their own faults and they have to suffer from their
foolish deeds. We get drown too, and with water covering all
the land we will have no way of searching for food."
"I say, I say, May I join in your discussion? "
asked Payau (Sambar Deer) who happened to be passing by. "I
over heard some "white tourists at Uncle Tans Wildlife
Camp, saying that the uncertainty of the weather nowadays
and the lack of oxygen in the air is caused by the destroying
of the green in the leaves (Chlorophyl). It seems that plants
take in carbon dioxide and produce oxygen which is needed
for all living things to breath. The World is warming up and
there will be little oxygen to breath if the humans do not
slow down on the destruction of the jungle."
"Sorry for interrupting" said the Oriental Darter
who was sitting on a branch up the same tree as the Orang
Utan Family. "Do you notice that the air is difficult
to breath and we can hardly see when we fly around. I think
the human called the smoke that suspends in the air as haze.
How come you get haze well after chopping the jungle
trees, the plantation workers set the whole area in flame.
Dont you all notice it, the jungle around Danau Ushu
was cleared by a plantation Company who wanted to start a
Oil Palm Plantation in the area. The humans thought it will
be easy to get rid of the forest by burning. I think this
fire which had been burning for the last week had got out
of control. No water to drink, not enough food to eat and
now they are trying to rob us of fresh air to breath too!"
Oriental Darter sounded disgusted.
"I feel, I have no right to join in the talk, as I am
only an migratory visitor to this area," said the STORMS
STORK. A few years ago my grandfather and his friends decided
to fly south to make our home here. The Kinabatangan Valley
was a pleasant place for us to live in. Plenty of virgin forests,
clear rivers and lakes teeming with fish and prawns. My grand
parents decided to make our home here and not fly all the
way back to Khasmir during the summer. We are multiplying
in number. It is not surprising to hear some bird watchers
at Uncle Tans Wildlife Camp saying that the Kinabatangan
is one place where they are sure to sight us, STORM STORKS
and they need not spend plenty of money to go to Khasmir to
see some Storms Storks.. But how long are we going to continue
to live in the Lower Kinabatangan area is everyones
guess. The loggers and the plantation companies are cutting
down all the trees by the river and shores of the lakes where
we roost each night. They are burning the weeds around the
lakes destroying our nests and killing our youngs. The
people here can make money on a sustainable way by creating
a wildlife sanctuary in these parts. Open it for bird watchers
and wildlife observers to visit. The spending from the tourists
coming into the area will be able to support and give the
local community some sort of income. Cut down the trees and
destroy the home of the wildlife and the animals will be gone
and no tourists will come."
"Talking about eagle eyes . Do you know we Brahminy
Kites are a bird of prey. We have good eyesight and are able
to see fishes swimming the water high above the river. We
can just dive down and pick up a fish or two for our lunch.
But what is the use of good eyesight when you cannot see the
fish in the water because of the mud and silt in it which
make the water brown in colour, I hardly ate any things since
this morning. I just cannot see the fish in the water to catch
them. I am sorry I join the discussion without your permission.
I am flying off now to look for something to eat. Selamat
"Hi! Hi! Can you all see me I am on the river
bank." Cried the Hairy Nose Otter which is with his family.
The Braminy Kite talked of nothing to eat do you all
see this thick mass of dead fish and prawns in the water.
Well, some stupid local fisherman had poured an insecticide
Deldrex 15 into the water this morning to poison and
then catch fish and prawns. The human collected the bigger
fishes and prawns for sale and left the smaller ones to rot
away. We cannot eat this dead fish we will be poisoned
too. The fisherman did not care whom he sells his catch to
as long as he gets his money. I am certain there
will be some human families in town who had eaten the fishes
and prawns caught with poison having stomachaches and
being admitted to hospital tonight! We will go hungry and
slowly our population will get smaller. We have no choice
the human beings had everything under their control."
"Ho! Ho! Ho! talking about having nothing to
eat. I almost got you between my jaws, Mr. Otter!" said
Tok Buaya an old crocodile who had been living in the
Kinabatangan for a very long time. " Why dont you
Tok?". Asked Otter. Well for this one time when all us
beasts can gather round to talk of things which concern our
future and that well beings of our descendants, I believe,
we should gather here as friends and discuss what we can contribute
to for the very survival in the Kinabatangan. I do not depend
on the jungle for my meals I eat you fellows! But how
can I get food to eat when you get slowly threatened and slowly
be extinct. My motive to get involved in your discussion may
be selfish but you must know when the jungle got get
destroyed, you fellows will not be around to be my food chain!
Selfish no doubt, but a deep concern to me for my future depends
on me getting enough food that is you. If you are no
more around I will starve to death. So please let me join
in your discussion.
As a matter of fact, as much as I had wished just now, I
could never catch Mr. Otter and make him my dinner this evening.
Look at me I am all covered with the used motor oil
thrown into the Kinabatangan just a moment be I got here,
by that tugboat you see across the River. The crew of the
Tug boat was waiting for the timber barge to be loaded, so
to get ready for the trip down river with the long "Rakit"
of logs it was a nice thing to get the boat ready for the
trip. Change the engine cylinder oil. Of course the most convenient
thing to do was to dumped the used oil into the River and
that was when Yours Truly was passing by. As a matter of fact,
my eyes are still sore from the used oil. Getting Mr. Otter
for dinner no way I can hardly see as it is."
Pak Orang Utan asked, "So how are you going to have
your Makan when you cannot see to catch your prey.
We are all too fast for you to Catch".
"No. Problem lah! Man Manusia" will
provide me with the food I need to eat to survive lah!"
said Tok Buaya.
"You cruel and merciless creature. Dont tell me
you are going to catch some innocent children or women who
come down to the River to wash for your dinner?" exclaimed
Mother Orang Utan, "You merciless creature."
"Well, Madam Orang Utan, I hope you can understand,
the law of Nature -"Survival of the fittest!. Each and
everyone are created by the CREATOR with some special qualities
in us. You are meant to live in trees and can climb from tree
to trees to search for food. I am supposed to hunt for my
food in the river I am NOT suppose to climb trees to
catch you. But if you are foolish enough and leave your safe
branch and come into the river than it is fair game
for me to catch you for my dinner that is the law of
"Actually, what do you mean when you said MAN = "Manusia"
will provide you with your makan? Dont you expect to
be fed with thrash fish and dead chicken as your relatives
are being fed by the Manusia at the Sandakan Crocodile Farm!
Ha! Ha! Ha!. Asked Pak Orang Utan.
"I am really serious when I said "Manusia"
will provide me with the food I need. The whole trouble with
you fellows is that you do not travel up and down the length
of the Kinabatangan much. I am certain I am very much older
than any one of you and I go up and down the Kinabatangan
very regularly. Dont you all know that the Western Countries
are all boycotting Tropical Timber. They are not buying Tropical
Timber with a hope that their action will save the
Tropical Rain Forests the Western Governments and Industrial
people are trying to tell their citizens that they are goody-goodies
and want to protect the and Conserve the Tropical Ran Forests!
They are "Penbohong Besar lah!" said Tok Buaya.
Father Proboscis Monkey asked, " What has the boycotting
of Tropical Timber by the Western World got to do with your
dinner? Are you trying to build up a good political image
and be our "Wakil Rakyat in the next General Election?
"The trouble with you gays are that you do not think
and use your brain a little bit. You see, when the Western
countries are boycotting Tropical Timber, that will leave
some other countries ( countries who cares a damn for the
Conservation of Tropical Forests) a wide open market with
plenty of timber to chose from and at a price they can control.
The timber prices are now being forced down. Buyers from these
timber buying countries are all now going into the logging
concession area to pick and choose the logs they want. The
most disgusting thought is that most of the hard Tropical
Timber are not used for making high class furniture to be
admired and kept. You will not believe me most of the
timber are used to make plywood. The plywood are often used
for mouldings in the constructions of high raised building
in the developed countries to create Concrete Jungles
whether we like is or not our Tropical Rain
Forest are destroyed so Concrete Jungles can spring out in
"You know after building the high raise building
the plywood moulding are all burnt and not reused. This burning
also adds to the pollution of the Atmosphere. Of course I
do not expect you people to know that much of our Tropical
timber are used for disposable chopsticks and also for tooth
picks." Answered Tok Buaya.
"You have still not answer my question , How are the
"Manusia" going to provide you with your dinner"
asked Father Orang Utan.
"Be patient lah, let me tell you slowly lah. When buyers
get a chance to pick and choose the logs they want
what happened to logs that no body want to buy. The slightly
crooked one, the ones with a hollow center and the one which
are felled but of a wrong spices. Well, in the middle of the
night when there are no witnesses the logging companies
just dump these logs into the Kinabatangan River. Go up River
from Kuala Lokan right up to Tongod both sides
of the River is lined thick with"DISCARD" logs.
When the River gets flooded these logs will not be
seen by the local villagers who speed by - now in high powered
out board engines ( money for the engines is said to have
come from illegal logging news from the Jungle Telegraph.).
In the last few months there are so many cases of small boats
knocking half submerged logs and capsizing. Many "Manusia"
got drowned. The corpses are not being found yet. I expect
these corpse will be flowing by soon so that is my
Dinner problem solved. Less efforts on my part to go and hunt
for food you beasts are too fast for me now
especially now I am very much older. Human meat taste better
too and it is actually served to your dinning table
you do not have to hunt for them. Thanks to the thoughtful
loggers! My Dinner problem is solved. So excuse me
I am going to wait by the whirl pool slightly up river
the lobok Buaya and hope my dinner will flow by."
"We. Long Tailed Macaques seems to appear to be stupid,
sitting on the branches of trees and scratching ourselves
the whole day long. But we know that whenever we are sick,
we just need to get into the Jungle and eat some special plants
and we will be well again. Do you all know, all the modern
medicines even for humans are derived from plants and herbs.
Out here in a Tropical Rain forest the are many many plants
whose properties as medicine or drugs have yet to be discovered
. It is said that there are more species of plant life in
an acre of Tropical Rain Forests than the whole of the British
Isles. Who knows here in these Tropical Rain Forest, there
may yet be plants which may provide cures for many of the
illness that is found in the Human World. Aids is killing
millions of people World wide yearly out here in the
Tropical Rain Forest there may yet be a cure for Aids. But
the stupid humans in their earnest to make money by selling
timber and creating plantations are destroying so many plant
life that had not be researched upon. We hate the often used
expression of the Human Beings "You Stupid Monkeys!
Little do they know, they are more stupid than us. We know
the values of the Tropical Rain Forests, for their many uses
controlling the climate, regulation water flow, help
to conserve water, help to provide more oxygen, provide home
for men and beast, food, materials for building and also a
place for healthy recreation and our Pharmacy to provided
Medicines and cures for all sicknesses. Some of the selfish
humans can only think of the number of ringgits they can get
for a cubic feet of timber. Monkeys are NOT STUPID. We, Long
Tailed Macaques, are also very fed up because we are
often known as the common monkeys as we are found every where
that MAN thinks we are too many and can be spared.
Do you know that many of us are trapped and shipped to developing
countries as Laboratory animals for scientific experiments?
We do not mind this much because we feel by sacrificing our
lives many human beings will live. But are the Human grateful.
No they want to destroy us all by destroying our habitat.
They are cutting down all the Jungles if there is no one to
stop them. Monkeys being stupid? No, it is MAN. He is slowly
killing himself by destroying the very things that help keep
him alive. Sorry, we have no more time to talk. Come on family
let us climb up the next tree and scratch ourselves.
Cover our eyes, ears and mouths so we will see no evil, hear
no evils and speak no evils even of the Stupid Human Race."
"How can we save the Rain Forests our Home"
Moaned Mother Orang Utan."
" I once saw a Stupid German Gentleman in the Balat
area hammering small pieces of iron wedges into some big trees
in the jungle," Said Payau
"When he was asked why he was doing it he said it is
to protect the trees. Any one trying to cut down the trees
will have the chain saw damaged and the trees will be safe!
How many trees in the Jungle can he saved. Little did he knew
when the chain saw breaks on contact with the steel wedge
the handler of the chain saw will be injured
maimed for life may be. What happened to his family
his wife and children how are they going to survive."
" Actually, I do not know if you all had observed. Almost
all the Chain Saws used for cutting down the jungle in Sabah
are the "STILTH" Chain saws made in Germany. "
Said Father Orang Utan. I think the German Gentleman would
have saved more Tropical Rain Forest if he goes home and put
a TIME BOMB and blow up the chain saw factories in his country."
Everyone present cheered and for this sound suggestion.
An old Owl was on the next tree. He had been quiet and sleepy.
He suddenly woke up and spoke," These developed countries
in the World are all yelling their heads off - telling the
whole World to stop the destruction of the Tropical Rain Forests.
Whom are they going to bluff lah. Twenty years ago, it would
have taken more than 15 days for a tree to be felled and dragged
down to the River. Today, with all the machines invented by
the developed countries chains saw, "Kapitang",
long Timber trucks, Big Bull dozers other heavy machinery.
The giant forest trees are dropping every second in the World.
Are the Developed Countries sincere in wanting to preserve
the Tropical Rain Forests. If they are sincere they should
stop manufacturing machines that will help the destruction
of the Tropical Rain Forests. Have high export duties for
these machines which are used for logging - and channeled
the money collected to carry out financial Reforestry Programmes
in underdeveloped country. These Developed
Countries "SEMUA DIA MAHU" tetapi bayar
tidak Mahu. (They want everything but with held paying the
price). These developed countries claimed that it does not
matter where the Forests a situated they belong to
the World ! They also have a share and rights to insist on
Developing Countries to conserve the Tropical Rain Forests.
But who is to pay for conservation projects. If the Forests
Belong to the World let us GOTONG ROYONG let
the whole World Contribute to up keep of the Tropical Rain
"Congratulations, Mr. Owl You have spoken very
wisely." Exclaimed Mother Orang Utan.
" Thank you. You need not say it we OWLS are
"I do not see the reason for the fuss you're all getting
into. Do you not realised that we PROBOSCIS MONKEYS are only
found on the Island of Borneo and nowhere else in the World.
The Sabah Government is trying to protect us and promote us
as a Tourists attraction. There is a bright future ahead for
us PROBOSCIS MONKEYS in the Kinabatangan Area the Lower
Kinabatangan Valley will be gazzetted as a Wildlife Sanctuary.
Be patient my friends and we will have happy days ahead. We
are a spices well above you lots." Said, the Chief of
a troupe of Proboscis Monkey. Hardly had he spoken.
" Bang, Bang, Bang!"And the family of Proboscis
Monkeys all dropped dead. All the other other animals ran
in all directions to escape from the guns of a boat full of
"SPORTS HUNTERS"from the towns. The Hot afternoon
turn out to be an excited afternoon for the animals
an afternoon in which they have to race off and fight for
their survival. Too bad for the PROBOSCIS MONKEYS the
local Chinese from the town believe that the male Proboscis
Monkey can hold an erection of his penis 365 days a year
so if you eat the meat of the Proboscis Monkey cooked with
certain herbs You will also be able to do it like a
proboscis monkey, have an erection any time. "One person
eating the meat and two people need not sleep that night!"
is the saying for those who eat the Proboscis Monkeys. As
long as guns are available easily illegal hunting will take
place. Hunting is not carry out for subsistence because
the people needed food to eat but for fun and getting some
exotic food to help with the sexual lives of the human beings.
More patrolling by Game Rangers along the Kinabatangan will
help a long way in the conservation of the wildlife in the
area. To the gun totting goons who called themselves "SPORTSMEN"
a heavy fine and a long term in jail will educate them a little
to understand the Fauna Laws of the State.
Later in the deep jungle and late at night the Orang
Utan family sat on a tall tree and ponder over their future
that is if they have a future.
At the bottom of their tree a lone elephant was singing the
ELEPHANT SONG by the Malaysian Singer Kamal . "Tell
me why said the Elephant, tell me brothers if you can. Why
should we live in fear of men, who fly in Jambo Jets and yet
kill with their rifles and knives without regrets. Why cant
we, men and beasts learn to live in peace! The elephant kept
on asking Why, Why, Why? Like the day before, some one shot
at him definitely not for food. A shot gun with small
pellets was used. The shot did not kill but a nasty wound
is now getting septic on the shoulder of the elephant. The
people who shot at him were hunting from a 4 WD and was using
spot lights to daze him before shooting. The opening of plantations
also give access into the jungles easily for yahoos to get
into the Jungle easily to hunt. The Kinabatangan Valley is
very luckily is populated mainly by ORANG SUNGAIs who are
mainly Muslims. The first recorded conversion of a man from
the Indahan Race was in 1409 in the Kinabatangan area. Muslims
have their strict HALAL LAWS on food. Only species of the
deer family are hunted. But the pressure on hunting is not
great at all. A local indigenous tribesman will have to hunt
on foot and using the simple single barreled shot gun. Once
he successful in his hunt he could only carry out part
of the carcass for feeding his family. He will tell his neighbours
and friends not to hunt any more as there will be enough meat
for the whole village. It is the "SPORTMAN HUNTERS"
who get into the Jungle and shoot at anything and everything.
Some using automatic Riot Guns to go hunting. There were incidents
where carcasses of elephants were observed to be shot with
high caliber rifles small hole in and a big hole out
M 16 Rifles! Whom but the Government Forces are issued
with M 16 Rifles! Surely these high caliber rifles are for
the protection and defence of the country and not for Sport
hunting! As the Elephant sat and ponder he wonder when
some one will see his carcass flowing down the Kinabatangan
River with his tusks cut off with a chain saw. The picture
is too gruesome for him. He changed his thoughts and starting
singing the ELEPHANT SONG!
Simat, asked his father a last question before falling to
sleep, "Ayah, we are in hot trouble and our future is
not bright at all. Who can help us?".
Father Orang Utan half sleepy answered," The Government
of Sabah can if it enforced the laws and be strict. It must
stop logging in the area immediately. Tomorrow will be too
late. It must be done today and now. Let those in authorities
understand our plights and listen to our pleads. By stopping
logging in the area, it will not only help us animals, but
also the local communities living in the area. Educate the
people to be aware of the environment a heritage which
is entrusted upon those living today to protect and conserve
for the future generations to come. Come on Simat, go to sleep
and dream of better days to come if the Government
takes some immediate action NOW!
Father Orang Utan said a silent prayer " by the
will of Allah, let our hope and expectation come true
The Low Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary will be a reality
and not just a mere thought. If it is made a Sanctuary for
Wildlife we hope there will be dedicated and committed people
to enforce all the laws to make this region a real Haven for
Wildlife. Insallah. Amen!
This story was told on WORLD ENVIRONMENT
DAY by Uncle Tan at the Wildlife Camp in 1997.