Penan elderly woman, Sigangsey, in rice paddy. The Penan native people are learning to live a sedentary lifestyle which includes living in wooden houses, farming and fishing. They were traditionally nomadic hunter-gatherers. These days they have become forcibly settled as their hunting grounds have been largely destroyed by logging concessions and palm-oil plantations.
There are only a few, difficult to find, scarce communities of semi-nomadic Penan nowadays, who live like of those of old, hidden away deep in the tropical forest, hunter-gathering, wearing loin cloth ‘chawats’, hunting wild boar with blowpipes and poison arrows, and extracting sago-root flour, their staple carbohydrate, by hand.
Borneo native peoples and their rainforest habitat revisited two decades later: 1989/1991 and 2012/2014/2015.
Sarawak's primary rainforests have been systematically logged over decades, threatening the sustainable lifestyle of its indigenous peoples who relied on nomadic hunter-gathering and rotational slash & burn cultivation of small areas of forest to survive. Now only a few areas of pristine rainforest remain; for the Dayaks and Penan this spells disaster, a rapidly disappearing way of life, forced re-settlement, many becoming wage-slaves. Large and medium size tree trunks have been sawn down and dragged out by bulldozers, leaving destruction in their midst, and for the most part a primary rainforest ecosystem beyond repair. Nowadays palm oil plantations and hydro-electric dam projects cover hundreds of thousands of hectares of what was the world's oldest rainforest ecosystem which had some of the highest rates of flora and fauna endemism, species found there and nowhere else on Earth, and this deforestation has done irreparable ecological damage to that region