|[back] A Walk Through the Jungle Ir. Sivaraman Kannan - 7 November 2008|
A Walk Through the Jungle
Malaysia is very near the equator with a lot of rain and plenty of sunshine. This has resulted in us being gifted with a very dense tropical rainforest with vast different species of flora and fauna. Most of us have only seen a very small portion of these forest plants at the various plant nurseries when looking for plants for our gardens. For every species you see in the gardens, there are hundreds of species in our jungles out there which we can only explore during jungle trackings.
When we mention jungle trackings, it is natural to visualize rough terrains with many obstacles in the way which are only suitable for able, healthy bodied and athletic people. There are a lot to see and experience in the jungles but the disabled (Orang Kurang Upaya (OKU)) are left out because of the inaccessibility of these facilities to people with movement problems.
Realising this, when Forest Research Institute (FRIM) set up the Kepong Botanical Gardens, a 80 hectares area located next to FRIM, they also built a disabled-friendly jungle track and named it the RAZAK WALK.
This is a set up that I have never imagined would ever exist. FRIM has actually laid out a 400 meters wheelchair-friendly cemented pathway through a secondary jungle forest reserve to provide the disabled an opportunity to enjoy some of the worldly pleasures enjoyed by the general public!!! There's also a wheelchair-friendly toilet located at the start of the trail. We hope other organizations will follow the lead set up by FRIM in recognizing the existence and needs of people with disability in our real world and acting on it. We truly appreciate FRIM who have contributed to the setting up of this project.
The setting up of this jungle walk was not just about the provision of the concrete pathway through the jungle. Mr. Elangoh Valautham and his capable assistant, Ms. Norsham, both Reasearch Officers from FRIM have done a lot of researches and references to ensure that the pathway and the surroundings are suitable and safe for people on wheelchairs. When they could not get published information, they consulted the various relevant NGOs to get proper information on how best to serve the needs of the disabled community. Both of them also led our group and provided the explanation to the variety of flora and fauna that are found on the grounds.
FRIM has also produced a pictorial map of the area which practically locates and identifies almost every tree and plants in this location.
Initially, there were aluminium engraved name tags for identification of each species of plants. Unfortunately, our infamous scrap metal thieves who have got to know about these tags have swiped off most of them! Mr. Elangoh's team are now replacing the tags with plastic tags. Hope the price of scrap plastic does not go up.
As the response was good and on-site facilities limited, we had to arrange two visits to the venue. We have limited our group to a maximum of 20 people for each walk. We made our first trip on 5th of July followed by the second trip on 16th of August, 2008.
Mr. Elango then gave a briefing on how FRIM came into being and how and why the Razak Walk was established.
He also explained in details where the plants originated from, why they are important and their medicinal value, if any. Some of these plants are not even found anywhere else in this world!
It was indeed an unforgettable day out to be at one with Mother Nature. I am sure the fresh air and good company have done wonders to the well-being of the participants as well.
The youngest participant is only one year old. However, for the kid ... they might be wondering what that is all about??? Never mind. We can always start them young to love and enjoy nature. There is one thing for sure though. The Razak Walk is also baby-trams friendly.
At the end of the walk the participants were famished. We unpack the food and drinks and later went back home with sweet memories of the day.
One for the album. The writer with Ho Sin Keong