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Lucky, close encountersIt was amazing he said, very different from seeing tigers in the zoo, where they mostly looked sleepy. That first encounter made him want to see tigers in the wild even more and has kept him on the job.
Even luckier are his colleagues who saw a tigress with 3 cubs crossing the highway that connects Belum to the Temengor forest at 2 am.
Such sightings are rare and Safri now sees mostly the footprints of tigers as well as that of elephants. It is common though to see the Malayan gaur, known locally as seladang.
Rooted in the forestSafri, 24, has an affinity for the forest that came from accompanying his dad to collect honey from the jungle or to go fishing. “We would go to places people don’t frequent,” he said.
These days he tracks the forest in search of illegal hunters, taking a different route each day. On days when he does the highway patrol, he would take the 4x4 vehicle, park at a spot and continue on foot. There are 3 hotspots that he monitors.
For him, conservation must take precedence over ecotourism. Any development must have low impact so that the wildlife can remain in Belum for a long time to come.
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