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Empowering Orang Asli Through Nature Guide Training In Taman Negara

Empowering Orang Asli Through Nature Guide Training In Taman Negara

The initiative deepens understanding and fosters a profound sense of connection to the country’s natural heritage, paving the way for greater respect and stewardship of the land.

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In a groundbreaking effort in Kuala Tahan, Pahang, the indigenous Orang Asli community achieved a major milestone by completing a comprehensive training program to become nature guides for the Taman Negara region.

This program by the Ecotourism & Conservation Society Malaysia (ECOMY) signified an important advancement in inclusive conservation endeavours.

Andrew Sebastian, founder of ECOMY and renowned naturalist, introduced the Bateq Nature Guide program, emphasizing its role in promoting sustainable tourism and recognizing and uplifting the Orang Asli’s traditional ecological knowledge.

An aerial view of a Batek village, harmoniously integrated within the lush canopy of rainforest near Taman Negara. (Pix: Fernando Fong)

The program’s success can also be attributed to the contributions of Roslan Kassim from the Bird Group Taman Negara and respected academicians Prof Emeritus Dato Dr Abdul Latiff Mohamad and Dr Manohar Mariapan.

The graduation ceremony included a poignant moment when Orang Asli nature guides, including several women who had completed their training, were presented with certificates.

A Batek Village nestled in the heart of Taman Negara, where tradition meets the rainforest. (Pix: Fernando Fong)

The involvement of women in the program is particularly touching as it breaks new ground in gender roles within the community and paves the way for female empowerment in environmental stewardship.

The program was also supported and endorsed by Yayasan Hasanah, the Department for Orang Asli Development and the Pahang National Park Authority, highlighting the importance of the initiative.

Batek nature guides proudly celebrating their graduation, marking a significant milestone in community empowerment and conservation efforts. (Pix: Fernando Fong)

Sebastian said the graduation underscored the potential for such programs to foster a better understanding and appreciation for Malaysia’s natural heritage through the eyes of its original custodians.

By engaging with the original custodians of the land, these initiatives offer a unique perspective that enriches the appreciation of the country’s environmental wealth and cultural significance. It not only provides sustainable livelihood options for the Orang Asli but also ensures that Taman Negara’s ecological wonders are interpreted and shared through the voices of its most authentic narrators.

ECOMY founder Andrew Sebastian on the transformative impact of the programs.

The graduation ceremony concluded with a representative speech from the newly minted Bateq Nature Guides, expressing their gratitude and hope for the future.

A group photo session captured this historic moment. (Pix: Fernando Fong)

The Batek: Guardians of Taman Negara’s Natural Legacy

The Batek are the indigenous people of the Malaysian rainforest, residing in the ancient Taman Negara National Park.

With their deep connection to the land and its biodiversity, they serve as the authentic custodians of this ecological wonder.

Prof Emeritus Dato Dr Abdul Latiff Mohamad presenting a certificate to a Batek woman nature guide, acknowledging their dedication to conservation and community empowerment. (Pix: Fernando Fong)

Their intricate knowledge of the rainforest’s flora and fauna passed down through generations, provides a unique and invaluable perspective on the natural world.

In the heart of Taman Negara, the Batek offers a glimpse into a harmonious coexistence with nature that has sustained their community for centuries.

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