As a child, my first impression of Cameron Highlands was a faraway wonderland filled with little cottages and tea plantations surrounded by jungles and orang asli. My first trip to Cameron Highlands was realised much later when I decided to make it a dream trip for my honeymoon. I was not dissapointed as the beauty of the tea plantations and the idyllic English styled cottages were truly breathtaking. At the same time, I was saddened with the amount of logging trucks that I see plying up and down the winding trunk road down to Tapah.
Over the years, Cameron Highlands remained a favourite vacation spot for me. I truly love the walks, the stays in the old bungalows, having scones at the tea plantations. When I took up trekking, Cameron Highlands proved to be the best place to establish a trekking paradise for Peninsular Malaysia. It is surrounded by beginner friendly mountains; Brinchang, Mentinggi, Jasar, Perdah, Irau, Ruil, Berembun, Suku, Yellow, Pass and not to mention, it is also the gateway to the big ones like; Yong Yap, Yong Belar, Gayong.
Environmentally, Cameron Highlands continue to deteriorate but as each year passes, the rate of destruction of its natural environment appears to magnify. We have had landslide hitting a popular orang asli village which killed 7 villagers. We had a massive flood which is mind boggling which wiped out illegal settlements along the river and reportedly 2 illegal immigrants were killed. The locals however believed the fatality numbers to be higher. It does not take rocket science to conclude that all the destruction came from the clearing of land which is rampant all over Cameron Highlands. To add salt to the wound, the local MP elected from the Cameron Highlands seat, G. Palanivel is the Minister of Natural Resources & Environment. Since G. Palanivel has taken office, nothing substantial has been done to protect Cameron Highlands. The bulldozers continue to clear the lands.
On my last visit to Cameron Highlands, my local friend sadly informed me that Gunung Mentinggi is gone and large plots of land are also being clearing in Kg Rajah, next to Gunung Yellow. We took the opportunity to walk our favourite route via Jalan Tengkolok to the orang asli village. We shocked to find the amount of land clearing that is taking place. Perhaps the following pictures could give an inkling of our sadness and shock.
The above is Gunung Perdah which adjoining to the Orang Asli Village back in 2008.
Today the area leading to the orang asli village and the adjoining mountain.
Pictures of more landing clearing, this clearing is closer to Gunung Jasar.
My only conclusion is that the glory days of Cameron Highlands are numbered. The green will be gone one day.