Batek Negrito woman finds comfort in caring after To'ek the hornbill

NAZIRUL ROSELAN

JERANTUT: Losing a loved one brings about a pain that words can't describe. Different people have different ways of coping and for an aboriginal woman from the Batek Negrito tribe, she found solace in taking care of a young hornbill. Umi, 37, lost her husband to high fever last year. However, three months ago, life for the woman who lives at the edge of the the Kuala Tahan National Park forest changed when a relative gave her a hornbill to care for.


The bird, which she named To'ek, was believed to have fallen out of its nest. Pix by Nazirul Roselan

Already treating the bird as an adopted child, Umi said her cousin found the young hornbill while he was out hunting. The bird, which she named To'ek, was believed to have fallen out of its nest. "To'ek is my companion, I got it when it was still small and had no feathers... I took care of it. what I eat, To'ek eats," she told NSTP when met here, recently. To'ek is a wreathed hornbill and is a species that can be found in tropical rainforests. It is however a difficult to find bird and is known to soar 1,830 metres above sea level. It is also among the wildlife species protected by the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) and the Kuala Tahan National Park is home to the species.


The bird, which she named To'ek, was believed to have fallen out of its nest. Pix by Nazirul Roselan

Umi said she now allows her 'adopted child' to fly free and it will return when it is hungry. "I let it fly wherever it wants to. When hungry, To'ek will come home and make a sound (signalling hunger)... I give it rice or bananas. "I don't mind To'ek flying off into the forest once it is all grown up. That is home for it anyway... I took care of it when it was small, if I don't feed it, To'ek might be hungry," Umi said. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd