BY CLARA CHOOI
IT was barely dawn one morning when National Geographic photographer Mattias Klum awoke to the sound of rustling leaves.
From his vantage point on a tree canopy some 60m above ground, he quickly scoured the mist-bathed rainforest for the source of the sound.
“Then I saw her; so graceful, so beautiful,” he said.
It was a mother orang utan, clutching her baby tightly and gracefully springing up to the top of a tall tree.
“Her movements were so sinuous, so liquid and so quick but not once did she relax her grip on her young,” he said.
Once at the top, the mother sat with her back facing the man, gently cooing to the baby she cradled.
“At that point, the sunrise filte-red through the trees and bathed their silhouettes in a golden sheen.
“I was humbled by the experience,” said Mattias, recollecting the mid-90s incident in the Danum Valley.
The nature lover, who began his career in photography when he was 18, had spent a 14-month ex-pedition deep within the rainfo-rests of Sabah and Sarawak from 1995 to 1996.
Mattias described the orang utan incident as one of the most memorable during the expedition.
“The simple beauty of nature truly humbles a person. That’s why I do what I do. And that’s why I’m a true advocate of forest conservation,” he said.
The Swedish-born Mattias, now 38, has had his works appear in publications such as National Geographic, Wildlife Conservation, Audubon and Geo.
Together with his 38-year-old wife Monika Klum, a photographer and writer, the two produced ‘The Eye of the Forest – a film from the interior of Borneo’.
Mattias has also received a medal from the King of Sweden for his achievements in photography.
His expeditions have led him to Malaysia, Thailand, India, Brazil, Costa Rica, Nigeria and many other places.
He was invited to relate his Bor-neo experience at the recent Tro-pical Rainforest Tourism Symposium 2006: The Royal Belum.
It was held from July 28 to July 30 at the Banding Island Resort, some 190km from Ipoh.
Upon visiting the Royal Belum State Park, Mattias urged the Perak Government to gazette both the Temenggor Forest Reserve and Royal Belum as a national park.
“It’s a God-given world out here. Don’t destroy it,” he said.
Source: The Star