The Batek people have recently made headlines, so we decided to answer a few questions that might be lingering in your minds.
1. Where are they?
There are only about 2,000 Batek people left in the Peninsula, mainly in Kelantan, Pahang and Terengganu.
The 12 known Batek settlements are scattered around the Malaysia’s National Park.
They live in traditional shelters called ‘hayak’.
2. Who are they?
The batek tribe believe in being egalitarian, which means men and women have equal rights, and are nomadic.
3. What do they do?
They are hunter-gatherers. Which means, the forest is where they get their food from. Generally men go out to hunt animals and women gather plants and fruits.
4. How do they eat?
Bamboos are heavily used as part of their food preparation.
Meat and vegetables are cut and placed into washed bamboo vessels, which are cooked over a fire very similar to lemang style!
According to a report by Czechtheworld, the Batek tribe have a sweet tooth.
They prepare their tea by filling three quarters of their cup with sugar. That’s a lot of sugar!
5. What is happening to them?
With massive industrial plantations, illegal logging, and mining, their food and water sources have become more limited.
It is reported that chemical fertilizers from oil palm plantations and chemical blasts from mining sites pollute their water and interfere with their livelihood.
As a result, they are becoming malnourished and have low immunity, which means they fall ill easily.
Most of them don’t live past 60 years of age.
6. What is their belief system?
The Batek Tribe have strong beliefs in the spirits of the forest and each settlement normally has their own shaman to treat their ailments.
Being believers of the spirit world, they don’t have rituals for a wedding, so they simply agree to live with each other.
7. Do they use any technology?
Yes! Surprisingly they do. As much as they love playing in the rain barefooted, they are tech savvy too!
Especially the younger Batek tribe people who love playing with smartphones and tablets!
8. What is their biggest problem?
From the pesticide pollution to chemical blasts in mining, they are still in limbo with the current mysterious outbreak in Kuala Koh, Kelantan.
We Malaysians pray the problems faced in Kuala Koh and by the Batek Tribe to be soon resolved.
It is time for us Malaysians to stop interfering with the indigenous people’s lifestyle and help protect their home, i.e. our jungles.