Monday, September 13, 2010

Of turtles and orang utan in Borneo

As long as the buying does not stop, the illegal trade will not. That may sound clichéd but it is very true as respect for wildlife in Malaysia is still very low.

SOME time ago, I was in Ku­­ching, where I met up with a botanist friend who spends a lot of time doing field trips in jungles around the globe. We shared some work-related stories, and one of his, which involved orang utan, really stood out.

In a remote village in a jungle in Borneo, he came across a young orang utan which was being kept in a cage in the kitchen, reared like a chicken, waiting to be dinner for the villagers.

On another occasion, he saw a sea turtle lying on its back in a kitchen. He thought it was dead, till it gave a half-hearted flap of its flippers and he realised, with a shock, it was still alive.

He then asked the villager whether the turtle was meant for consumption soon. The answer he was given was that it would be kept alive for weeks on its back with splashes of water till the villagers wanted to eat some turtle meat.

Most of us with a modicum of an education are aware that turtles and orang utan are endangered species.

Most of us wouldn’t even consider eating them, and even those of us who may have had turtle eggs in the past, have now probably reconsidered our stand on this.

There are those who haven’t yet bought into the idea of staying away from endangered species as food or for its perceived medicinal/aphrodisiacal properties.

These are the ones who are not particularly well educated and are therefore not exposed to other mindsets which abhor practices like stuffing one’s face with endangered animals. Although having said that, I have met people in Kuala Lumpur who confess to having eaten turtle eggs.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Of turtles and orang utan in Borneo

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