CSI with SJKC Kuala Terla on the 8th November 2016

A limitless expanse of hills – dark green with diagonal bands – stretched out before me in the misty morning light.Suddenly, with a flurry of noise, a flock of yellow-vented bulbuls took off in unison over the cusp of hills.Although Cameron Highland’s broad swathes of nature are always breathtaking, her small details are no less amazing.

This is probably best encapsulated in Gunung Brinchang, a colossal hill covered in montane forests.The trees here teem with the sweet calls of fire-tufted barbets chirping over one another, and the murmur of the wind.

It is difficult to think.

A flutter of wings in the sea of gerok trees caught my eye, and I start towards its general direction before I catch myself. For a moment, I had forgotten my purpose.The highlands does not release its enthralled guests easily.

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8th November 2016

Today was spent out in the sun with 30 students and teachers from Kuala Terla Chinese Primary School. It was my first time taking part in REACH’s Community Stream Investigators programme, and volunteering as documentarian.

The programme began with a detailed introduction by Ms Melody Woon, who explained about the many physical, biological and chemical tests that can be conducted to determine the quality of water running down the rivers. This was followed by talks on how the highlands have been polluted and damaged by overdevelopment.dscn4660dscn4662The students were then led into Sungai Bertam where they were taught how to look out for macro invertebrates and conduct water testing using a multimeter.dscn4684dscn4679dscn4674Having visited this particular site for bird-watching on many occasions, I found it extremely difficult to imagine how badly polluted the seemingly-clear waters were, and what overdevelopment had done to organisms that used to thrive in it.Remnants of plant matter were clogging up the river, plastic sheets and bags were drifting by the river banks. A thick brown substance appeared to be running down the stream after a truck with two barrels of it passed by casually. dscn4700 dscn4698dscn4707dscn4731dscn4730We didn’t stay too long in the waters and moved on after carrying out the various tests.The students were lucky. Our next river, Sg Pauh, was one of the cleanest in Cameron Highlands. They caught more than ten species of macroinvertebrates within minutes, including a silver-coloured crab.

dscn4757 dscn4756 dscn4755dscn4761Dr Liau, Ms Melody Woon and Ms Elucia Yong, volunteers with REACH, then went on to help explain how to identify these beautiful creatures. The hands-on approach to learning was exciting for all, and soon enough, the students were all having discussions on what needs to be done to help conserve the fragile eco-system.dscn4799dscn4821 dscn4819 dscn4813dscn4834 dscn4831dscn4825 dscn4823dscn4839 dscn4842dscn4845 dscn4844dscn4858Amidst the sea of ideas and comments, one particular statement by a student struck a chord in me.“We need to do more for these little ones.” It was the most heartwarming part of my day.

by Yeo Kai Wen