Doomed Paradies
Project info

„The rain forest is our supermarket“ says Peng Megut from Long Tevenga, a small Penan-village in the midst of an intact rain forest. Since generations live the Penan, an indigenous nation of originally nomadic hunters and gatherers, in the rain forests of Borneo (Sarawak/Malaysia). They hunt with blowpipe, fish, gather fruits and harvest the sago palm. „The forest gives us all what we need to live: water, salt, poison for our arrows, resin to make fire and medicine. We love, to hear the voices of the animals. It’s a very nice living. We don’t need more. We
come out of the forest, and after death we go back to the Forest. “
The living of the Penan has changed dramatically since 1950. Christianized by missionaries they started founding villages. Since 1970 the corrupt government forces the logging of the rain forest.
In the 1990ies, the Penan fought together with the Swiss activist Bruno Manser with blockades against the destruction of their ancestral land and made headlines worldwide. Today 90% of the rain forest in Sarawak is cleared and palm oil plantations are spread out.
The loss of their base of life forces the 12‘000 Penan to settledness and
agriculture.
Peng Megut is one of the very few, who successfully managed to defend their forest. Regularly wanders his tribe through their 126km2 big territory, like their nomadic ancestors, and preserves their heritage.
But around this paradise the forest is logged. A lawsuit about their land from 2011 is pending until today. Peng builds symbolic barricades to stop the bulldozers from entering his forest.
„To log one tree, they need to build a road. We don’t want roads, because we don’t need any cars. Our feet: this is our car; they bring us on top of every mountain and through every river! We won‘t sell our forest, because also the biggest amount of money is once used up. But the forest will nourish our children
and grandchildren. “
Since 2014 I visited the Penan from Long Tevenga three times and I will continue this work as a long term project.