Thursday, January 7, 2010


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.


Martin Lee said...

When I first came to East Coast many years ago, I remember seeing sign that reminded drivers of "Beware of elephants" and now I see no more, perhaps still in the old trunk road?

I was always fascinated by such wild animals. My uncle and brother were here in Terengganu in the 70s, and they always tell me stories about wild boars passing by, and they had to stop the car, then the tiger was chasing right from behind! How I wish I could have such experience!

azahar said...

Oh you too loved wild animals! Many of us do.

I love wild animals in their natural environment, not caged and cramped like in zoos.

Actually I had confronted a tiger when I was cycling to school in 1966. It was crossing the road at you know the mangroce forest next to Bukit Kuang bridge.

I also had come face to face with a crocodile when I was swimming in the river in front of Kg Tuan. Actually at the time I was pushing the left-over nipah shoot from my mother's work station on the riverbank. Till now I have this phobia of swimming in brackish river.

Martin Lee said...

I suppose you mean the Bakau Tinggi mangrove forest, and I went inside there to take a look and now one could hardly even see any fish there. On the other end, a few stores are selling the mud crabs!

I only heard from my superivisor Rani saying that the Ibuk river where it is famous for the "Kunang-kunang" or fireflies, inside the river there are crocrodiles. And also another place is the river that runs across the border from Mak Lagam to Binjai.

They had told me that they observed the footprints of tigers in Ibuk area. Bigger footprints belong to the tigers and not those of the black leopards.

Air Putih side, used to be primary jungles and now the forests are cleared, perhaps to make way for development or palm oil estates. Further to the west would be leading to the Taman Negara, beyond that area there should still be a good habitat for tigers.

azahar said...

Do you know in the eighties tigers roamed the present day Bukit Kuang?

I remember seeing tiger footmarks by the dozens in our newly finished vegetable rows (batas). They must be playing in our vege farm during that night!

Even a serow (kambing gurun) made its way into our piece of land one day!

Mousedeer, you don't have to speak any more..there were hundreds of them in the secondary bushes...

Martin Lee said...

Just within less than 20 years, all these wild life animals made their exodus to go more interior, hopefully not hunted or starved to distinction over the years. We humans encroached their homeland and trespassed their boundaries.

My brother told me at the traffic light turning to Perwaja he used to see big wild boars feeding there openly without fear in broad daylight .

Bukit Kuang is near to Kijal and there were the famous Kijal twins tigers described by A Locke and I read through the interesting article. The vegetation and the wild boars population there are simply too conducive to form a good habitat for tigers.

I shall be extremely happy and excited if I ever have a chance even just to take a look at the tiger footprints in the wild if there is any!

Martin Lee said...

Sorry for the typo error, it should read as starved to "extinction" and not "distinction"