The many volunteers of the Langur Project Penang (LPP) have come to recognise Te Piek as an endearing male juvenile dusky leaf monkey (or langurs) who is playful and loves to explore the habitat which he finds home near the Teluk Bahang forest.
His given name, Te Piek (which means ‘unique’ in Hokkien) came from his curiosity and intelligence, and he is always seen playing with a stick, or leading the other juveniles for playtime & foraging. Although he is a bright-eyed, independent and brave little langur, Te Piek as a juvenile is still very much attached to his mother; following her closely wherever they move around in the trees.
Langurs are arboreal animals, which mean they groom, forage, play and rest on trees. However, forests today are often fragmented due to urban development such as highways - which made it difficult for wildlife to cross over from tree to tree for food and shelter. It has become a challenge for them to leap safely from one side to the other as the canopies of trees become sparse due to the fragmentation. In many cases, arboreal animals such as langurs have resorted to the electrical cables to get across, where available.
On 13th August, 7:15pm – a fellow LPP volunteer came across the lifeless body of a dusky leaf monkey by the roadside. Upon closer inspection – it was a male juvenile who had actually lost his balance on the electrical cable during a routine travel across the road to the trees opposite the road for food and rest. The juvenile had fallen onto the road and succumbed to a severe trauma when his small head hit the curb.
It was Te Piek, he didn’t make it across the road that evening.
The LPP team managed to arrive at scene around 10pm to retrieve Te Piek’s body. As part of the documentation, his weight and different parts of his body length were measured before he is preserved in an ice-box which would be transported to PERHILITAN for further action.
Juvenile langurs have less experience compared to adults, they risk losing their lives each time they attempt to get across the roads. Whether through the fate suffered by Te Piek or getting killed by a moving vehicle, we seldom stop to think how this happened – not realising how vulnerable the lives of these defenceless langurs are. And how everything changed for Te Piek’s close knitted family, that evening he tragically lost his balance from the electrical cable and fell to his death.
LPP stands for giving a voice to the voiceless natural inhabitants of Penang. The loss of Te Piek further strengthens our belief that there is much work to be done, words to be spread and awareness to be sown to the public. In the midst of rapid urban development, everyone of us actually have a role to play as a responsible citizen.
As a start, kindly practice caution and avoid speeding when you drive along the Batu Feringgi – Teluk Bahang roads as these areas are known to be habitat of the langurs and other wildlife. Secondly, if you come across wildlife road kills - please alert PERHILITAN through this number 1-800-88-5151 so that the body of the animals could be handled properly.
After all that has been said and done – the passing of Te Piek has broken many hearts of the volunteers of LPP. Needless to say, we will all miss him and his quiet, gleeful moments playing with the sticks he picks up from the forest he called home. We hope everyone would also come to know and appreciate the lives of the langurs by understanding how vulnerable their lives are. As the saying goes, “Tak kenal maka tak sayang”.
In the fondest memory of Te Piek (Feb 2015- 13 August 2016)