September 4, 2009

"You Shot a Kerbau?"

What do you often see along the roads of Sarawak?

Huge logs? Chickens? Pigs? Trees for landscaping? Oil palm seeds?

But in Limbang along the Batu Danau/Brunei Road this is what you may see. I managed to shoot a kerbau (water buffalo) on the move...all at his rear unfortunately!!





The Bisayas are indigenous people who populate the lower Limbang River Valley and the majority of them live in the Batu Danau area. Numbering around 6000 in Sarawak alone they are agriculturalists who maintain good padi fields mixed with fruit trees.

The Bisaya's most staple food is rice but they are also very famous for sago which they make into linut a very popular local as well as tourist attraction food. Sago trees are found dotted along the lower Limbang river and they are the pride of the Bisayas farmers.

More than half of the Bisayas are now highly educated and have been occupying high government positions including one State Assembly Man. Most of the Bisayas are related to Bruneians and Sabahans many of whom are of Bisaya stock. Some can claim their lineage up to the Visayan Islands in the Philippines.

They claim fame in other activities too : they are most well known for buffalo races!

Perhaps unknown to many there is an important occupation amongst them : the buffalo catcher.This job is not for the faint hearted and it is usually passed from father to son.First of all the buffalo catcher has great understanding of animal behaviour and therefore buffalo pyschology. He has to be able to understand the body language of the buffalo and get near to the animal to calm him down whenever the animal is to be caught and sold and later slaughtered. Very much like the Horse Whisperer he will chat with the animal intended to be caught or to be transported to another place. At times he rides on the animal for a while . If the buffalo is very huge (as desired by the person demanding the dowry ) he might even have to spend a few days to understand the animal before transporting him away. It is almost like a kind of bonding between two brothers. It has been known that the special buffalo catcher is even regarded as mystical!! He has a lot of respect from his fellowmen. His fees can range a few fifty dollars to a few hundred ringgits each catch depending on the size of the animal. Thus many a good reputable buffalo catcher has been known to earn a large sum per month if he happens to be the only one available in the area. Actually there are not many skilled buffalo catchers in Limbang today I heard.

Thus the buffaolo catcher is a very important person in the society as well as he is most needed when a wedding or an important occasion (like welcoming a YB) is to be held. He is requested to catch a buffalo for the slaughter or for sending the animal to another place as dowry. These photos show a buffalo in a lorry....this is a unique sight in northern Sarawak.

The buffalo is on his way for a very important purpose. The buffalo catcher (sometimes with his son) is in the pickup in front. To me the job is a very risky job . He should be protected by insurance or by any other compensation deem necessary should he be killed or seriously injured while at work. Furthermore I think the animal should also be kept in a covered trailer (like horses in the United States) so that it is not stressed by the transportation. It has been known that a lorry had met with an accident and the buffalo was upset and he went on a stampede injuring a number of people. This would be the time when the buffalo catcher is most needed to calm the animal down!! But if he is too injured what can be done?

This is a nostalgic scene for many Limbang folks.




So when driving along the Batu Danau Road be watchful. Drive carefully. You may have to wait for a buffalo to finally cross the road or you may have to slow down and drive behind a buffalo which is having his first but last ride in his life on top of a pickup.

But don't forget to take some shots if you have your camera with you ehhh.... if you not driving!!

13 comments:

Nelson said...

in terengganu, you will see water buffaloes, cows and bulls, goats, actually all the cattle and poultry running wild on the suburban areas (like 20 minutes from town). just yesterday, a cow walked to the middle of the road blocking our way.

Uncle Lee said...

Hi Sarawakiana, nice shots, but regret he on last road trip.
I was one day returning home from Kelantan to KL at night...
it was around 10pm near Kuantan turning a corner and there was this buffalo lying right smack middle of road.

At 80mph, all I could do was swing my steering wheel...and luckily ended up on a sandy bank. Hot stuck till a truck came by helped pulled my car out.

You live in a very interesting country with so many different peoples, cultures....it was a pity old days I saw more jungles than really seeing places.
But will be returning to Sarawak one day...BIL and family in KK.
You have a nice day, Lee.

Ah Ngao said...

i think this people transporting the buffalo knows how to tied up the animal,eh? imaging if it go berserk on top of the lorry...hehe

all3cool said...

Hello sister Chang Yi...we really miss you very much in the smallgroup. When r u coming back?

Bengbeng said...

this post reminds me of Khir Toyo and the cow head incident in Selangor :)

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi Nelson
Nice to note the different kinds of animals hanging out in Malaysia!! They have the right to move around too...but may be they should be trained to observe the highway code...or more signs can be made to enable them to enjoy their rights....that will make our country more remarkable and "boleh".

thanks for dropping by...watch out for those dear animals!

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Uncle Lee
I hope you did not have a great fright. I have known of serious injuries involving men and beasts on the road!! Lucky for you the truck came or else you might have waited until dawn!
Sure it should be great for you to visit Sabah and Sarawak. A lot of new things for you to see. We even have a good executive coach from KK to Pontianak now! Very comfortable but the roads are not too good at certain places.
Thanks for your contribution of ideas! Have a great week too!

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Ah Ngao
No the animal is not really tied to the truck...see the tail? It is curled. so it means that he is a bit stressed.....

Sarawakiana@2 said...

I should be back soon...but it may be difficult for me to join your group! Time is not suitable for me....heheheh...it is nice to be missed...Carry on your good work. God bless.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Beng Beng
No this is a life one...and he is for a good purpose...

Do all the good you can
For all the people you can...

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Beng Beng
This animal is alive....the Selangor fiasco used a dead animal head for a very poor reason...
I am sure the people involve knew perfectly that they could cause a lot of trouble....

Here I am so glad that Kerbaus are used for good purposes - for weddings for welcoming VIPs and for paying fines etc.

Have you ever seen a kerbau statue?

Anonymous said...

Hi there.
It is nice to see a photo of kerbau on a pickup. Saw it years ago when a kid travelling in Limbang. Did guess that it was on its way to be killed. I thought it was quite a hard task to get the kerbau to go into the pickup!! Never thought that there was a buffalo catcher (me being from another race!!). Showed my nephews the photos...they like the tail...but shivered at the thought of meeting the kerbau hahahaha. thanks.

Justin

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi Justin
yeah I like the photos too myself...but one day must get down to shoot from all angles...I was in a rush that day...but then it is not easy to shoot this scene...not always available....
have a good day!