S’wak, Kalimantan villagers produce book of pix taken by them

Pictures at an exhibition: Bukit Mabong district officer Douglas Pungga looking at photographs from the Panda Click project in Kuching.

KUCHING: The intimate daily lives and beautiful natural surroundings of eight villages in Sarawak and Kalimantan are captured in a book of photographs taken by the communities themselves.

“In the past they went into their fields with farming equipment, now they also bring cameras with them. The participants learnt how to take photos and then applied that knowledge in their respective surroundings,” said WWF-Malaysia conservation director Dr Henry Chan.

“The photos they took are now compiled into a book, accompanied by short stories from the communities.

“Through their photos and stories, we can understand the impact of development on their natural surroundings and traditions,” he said at the Warna-Warni Borneo book launch yesterday.

The 200-page coffee table book is the result of an interactive and visual programme called Panda Click by the WWF for longhouse folk in Sarawak’s Kapit division and Kapuas Hulu in west Kalimantan.

Participant Peter Jabat, the headman of Rumah Peter in Sarawak’s Song district, said he took all kinds of photographs during the programme.

“When I saw beautiful scenery, I would take photos. I also took photos of daily activities and cultural performances.

“The Panda Click programme is good because it gives us a chance to show city folk what life is like in the longhouse.

“It is also a way to keep a record of our natural treasures, such as the flowers and plants for the next generation,” he said.

Chan said Panda Click was part of a transboundary conservation project to develop a green economy in the Heart of Borneo area in Sarawak and west Kalimantan.

He said the use of visual images to document subjects was an effective way for the local communities to express what is important to them.

“We wish that their voices would be considered in the process of planning and development, which therefore underpins our effort to accomplish the United Nations’ sustainable development goals which all of us have committed to supporting and achieving,” he said.

The Panda Click programme was introduced in Sarawak last year and took place for nearly 10 months, with 19 participants producing about 20,000 photographs of their local environment and landscape, daily activities, customs and traditions.

The book is jointly published by WWF-Malaysia and WWF-Indonesia with support from Germany’s federal ministry for the environment, nature conservation and nuclear safety.

In conjunction with the book’s launch, 50 photographs from the programme will be displayed in an exhibition at the State Library here from tomorrow to Jan 19, 2020.

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