PEKAN: A day in the life of an orang asli in Tasik Chini was the main treat for 80 secondary students, including those from the Klang Valley recently.
The group was also given a chance to appreciate the fragile ecosystem of Malaysias second largest freshwater lake.
The students, all participants of The Champion of Pahangs Tasik Chini project, were from four schools namely SM Sultan Abu Bakar and SM Abdul Rahman Talib in Kuantan, and SM Paloh Hinai and SM Ahmad in Pekan.
They were joined by 10 students from SM La Salle Klang, and 15 children from the orang asli community.
The students were taken on a boat ride to study the flora and fauna of the lake
They also visited orang asli homes, were served with a typical orang asli meal, and learnt their folk dances and how to hunt using blowpipes.
The project was organised by DiGi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd as part of its corporate social responsibility programme.
Also present were DiGis chief financial officer Johan Dennelind and Sustainable Development Network (Susden) Malaysia president Bishan Singh, whom DiGi named as one of its Amazing Malaysians for the year 2006.
About two years ago, Susden launched the Save Tasik Chini campaign.
Dennelind said the DiGis project was aimed at increasing public awareness oo the deterioration of Tasik Chini.
He said that efforts must be taken to preserve Malaysias natural heritage sites and the livelihood of orang asli who lived around the lake.
There was a time, not too long ago, when this lake was teeming with fish such as ikan kelisa (arowana) and ikan belida (giant featherback).
These fishes are extremely rare now. There was a time, also, when people came from all over the country to soak in the wondrous sight of lotuses in full bloom.
Today, the lotus is threatened by a waterweed, and if nothing is done, it will disappear.
Many other plants and animals will also disappear. Tasik Chini will die if efforts to preserve and regenerate it are not forthcoming, he said.
Meanwhile, Bishan Singh said that among the reasons to save Tasik Chini was to protect and preserve its inherent biodiversity.
He said another equally important reason was to protect the lifestyle of the five orang asli communities around the lake.
The best way to help them is to educate and empower them. That is why we are establishing the information centre, he said, adding that the move would encourage the orang asli to adopt sustainable practices to protect the lake and their livelihood.