Tasek Bera folks in the dark

Tasek Bera folks in the dark

2 days ago

BERA: As he checks on his stingless bee hives in his yard, Kampung Orang Asli Gakuyah village headman Wahid Yahim contemplates the survival of wildlife in the Tasek Bera wetlands, the largest natural lake in Malaysia. "Kijang (deer) used to be a common sight here, but not any more. We consider ourselves lucky if we come across rare fish or other animals. "The lake used to receive many visitors, including foreign researchers, and the villagers here have benefited from ecotourism," said the 65-year-old Semelai man, fondly known as Pak Wahid. He said villagers used to be very much involved in economic opportunities offered by the wetlands, with some becoming tourist guides, boat operators and hawkers near the lake. "However, things changed after Tasek Bera was designated a Ramsar site in 1994. Now, we don't even know what's going on in there," he told the New Sunday Times. After the declaration, he said, villagers were prohibited from conducting tourism and recreational activities there, including fishing and camping, which had now been taken over by the authorities. "We are not sure if research is being done on the wetland because no one has engaged with us," he said. Many villagers also stopped going to swamps around Tasek Bera to find forest produce after it was declared a Ramsar site. Instead, many had found jobs in rubber and oil palm plantations nearby . "Although Tasek Bera is a protected site, we see the opening of palm oil and rubber plantations around it.

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