Very early morning, 4.00 am to be exact, there I was driving in the wee morning drizzle on my way to Putrajaya to listen to Minister of Agriculture and Agro-based Industries' new year speech.
Barely a kilometer from my house, I had to suddenly swerve the car just to avoid some huge buffalo droppings on the road. A few seconds later I had to push on the brakes hard and the car screeched to a stop just a few metres away from a group of a dozen or more casually-walking-along-the-road buffaloes.
They were smart, these mud-wallowing cloven-hoofed creatures, coming out only at night when the weather was cooler and staying well hidden during daytime in the secondary jungles around Bukit Mentok.
They were hemmed in by rapid housing development in the area. Their usage as beast of burden had been lost and now they were kept just as walking-banks for times of need by their owners.
I rarely saw their owners tending their animals. But, they told me that they knew which ones were theirs. Their rule is simple, they knew the cows and bulls, so all those that follow them are theirs!
The presence of the droppings along the road revealed their presence nearby. They are the buffaloes, the animals that many Kemaman folks still prefer as beef, especially during festive seasons.
Then, barely a kilometre away, again I had to slow down. This time it was a group of six wild pigs crossing the road. They must be returning from their nightly scavenging of rubbish bins looking for easy food left by humans.
They were two sows and five young ones jogging in a straight line across the road straight into the bush.
Of late they or their relatives had made headline news when they went on rampage attacking and goring people, one of which in broad day light in front of a food joint in Kampung Besut!
They did that for a reason. Some said as a revenge for poachers who had shot them. Some people prefer their meat over their domesticated cousins. Why? Their meat is leaner, meaning less fat, but careful, they may harbour those nasty parasite, cysticercus.
Recently an American tourist was hospitalised and diagnosed with cysticercosis, meaning there was a long tapeworm in his gut.He told the doctors that a week ago he enjoyed wild pig barbecue with a hill tribe in Thailand.
Besides the two near mishaps, the drive was smooth and we arrived safely and early in Putrajaya. We even had time for breakfast at the canteen where we were joined by Rafi who looked very familiar (we were together in Teengganu) and later by Dato' Suhaimi.