Kuala Lumpur (AFP) Feb 7, 2011
Along Sega, one of the last nomadic tribesmen of Borneo who won fame for his battle to save the forests and traditional lifestyle of his Penan people, has died aged in his 70s.
Jailed twice for his struggle against the logging companies that devastated ancestral lands in Sarawak on Malaysian Borneo, he was also a mentor to Swiss activist Bruno Manser who brought the outside world's attention to the plight of the Penan.
"When I die, they will continue our struggle because I asked them not to give up," he said in a 2005 interview, according to the Bruno Manser Fund which continues to campaign for the people of the Borneo rainforests.
Along Sega died in hospital in Sarawak last Wednesday, according to the Fund which said the cause of death was unknown, as was his exact age.
"He was really an inspiration to us. He was courageous and was determined to defend the lifestyle of Penans," Harrison Ngau, a lawyer and native rights advocate in Sarawak told AFP Monday.
A leader of one of the last nomadic Penan groups, Along Sega was bitterly disappointed in broken promises by the Sarawak government to create a protected forest reserve which he said had turned out to be "all lies" and "nonsense".
In the 1980s logging companies entered the Penan forest homeland, tearing out the valuable timber and decimating the wildlife, fish and rainforest products like rattan that had long sustained the local people.
The Penan began building roadblocks against the logging companies, filed lawsuits, and lobbied fearlessly to save their traditional territory in a losing battle which continues to this day.
"We want our forest to remain untouched. Because only then we can go hunting," Along Sega said in the 2005 interview.
"When I was young, no one disturbed the animals. The forest was good and we could go hunting close to where we lived," said the tribesman, who sported the traditional Penan fringed haircut, beaded necklaces and loincloth.
"The women could easily catch the fish and get their food. Nowadays, life has become very difficult because of the logging in our area."
With much of Sarawak's timber now cut and sold, the Penan face a new threat as the logging firms clear-fell the degraded forest and turn it into palm oil plantations, in what activists say could be the final blow.
The plight of the Penan was made famous in the 1990s by Manser, who waged a crusade to protect their way of life and fend off the loggers, before vanishing in Sarawak in mysterious circumstances in 2000. Many suspect foul play.
The Penan of Sarawak are estimated to number around 10,000, with only about 300-400 thought to still be nomadic. Most settled in villages by the 1970s under the influence of Christian missionaries.
The Bruno Manser Fund said Along Sega himself decided to settle in a village in the early 2000s, mostly because of the depletion of the forests.
Even the settled Penan still retain a deep connection to the jungle, foraging for rattan, medicinal plants, fruits, and sago palm, a starchy staple. Wild game are hunted with finely crafted blowpipes and poison darts.
Share This Article With Planet Earth
Forestry News - Global and Local News, Science and Application
Wildlife volunteers kidnapped in east India: police
Guwahati, India (AFP) Feb 7, 2011
Armed militants abducted six volunteers working for the WWF environmental group who were counting tigers and elephants in a reserve in eastern India, police said on Monday. The three men and three women, all Indian nationals, were taken hostage by about 20 masked rebels late on Sunday in the Manas National Park in the remote state of Assam. "A major hunt is under way to rescue them," Kam ... read more
Australian MPs weep for disaster victims|
Disasters could reverse growth: Australia
Australia flags taxpayer levy for floods
Australia sends in troops after mega-cyclone
Bookstores feeling pain from digital technologies
Portable devices linked to US pedestrian death spike
NEC, Lenovo in talks on joint venture: report
Verizon reins in data hogs before unleashing iPhone
Hungarian plant still releasing toxic mud: Greenpeace
Native Brazilians plea for dam project to be scrapped
Pollutants In Aquifers May Threaten Future Of Mexico's Fast-Growing 'Riviera Maya'
Thailand closes dive spots due to reef damage
Norwegian house ratifies Arctic border agreement with Russia
VIMS Team Glides Into Polar Research
Greens: Alaska oil delay a win for polar bears
'Hidden Plumbing' Helps Slow Greenland Ice Flow
Helping Feed The World Without Polluting Its Waters
Argentina admits to malnutrition deaths
Bordeaux wines face climate threat: experts
Russia resumes sturgeon caviar exports to Europe
Sri Lankan floods return, death toll rises to 17
Sri Lankan floods pile on misery: UN
Torrential downpours pile misery on Australia
One million Sri Lankans hit by floods, 14 dead
Arms seized in Nigeria were for Gambia: Iran ambassador
China's finance minister visits Zimbabwe to bolster bonds
Mutiny by south Sudan ex-militiamen kills 20: army
African nations ride the possibilities of bamboo bikes
Study warns of climate-driven migration
Mathematical Model Explains How Complex Societies Emerge And Collapse
U.N.: World population rate must slow
'Tsunami' of obesity worldwide: study
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2010 - SpaceDaily. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement|