MIRI: Solo or unguided treks into the deep forests and mountains of Mulu National Park is simply too risky, said Telang Usan assemblyman Dennis Ngau.
“Penan guides are vital when it comes to navigating in Mulu.
“Outsiders who visit Mulu must never attempt to venture into the jungles and mountains without a guide.
“It is unwise for tourists to trek into Mulu on their own,” he told StarMetro yesterday.
Ngau, who knows the Penans well, said these native folk were the original inhabitants of Mulu.
“There are no better guides than the Penans who grew up in these forests and mountains,” he said.
Ngau noted that even Fire and Rescue Department deployed specially trained personnel to locate Australian tourist Andrew Gaskel, 28, who lost his way while trekking alone in the national park on Oct 20. Gaskel was found alive yesterday.
Ngau, who has travelled extensively in the forests of northern Sarawak, said the Gaskel case was a lesson to all.
“From my experience, the Penans will be crucial in any search and rescue missions in these rugged terrains.
“The Mulu Summit – where the search teams are currently focussing on – can only be reached by foot and only the Penans know the way,” he said.
More than 60 personnel were involved in the search-and-rescue effort, including those from the Fire and Rescue Department, the police, the Civil Defence Force, as well as Sarawak Forestry rangers.
The Mulu National Park has networks of vast caves, underground rivers and steep mountains as well as sharp limestone walls.
Mulu is the eighth natural wonder of the world with the Sarawak Chambers being accorded the status as the largest cave chamber on earth.
There are also many underground caves and underground rivers snaking through the whole area including many that had not yet been explored.
The area is connected to Miri by a 30 minute flight but it is also accessible by rivers and jungle footpaths.