by Es Tung
HE’S clever. He’s tricky. And he’s undoubtedly the icon of the Nusantara.
This month, the Malaysian Heritage and History Club is paying tribute to the Sang Kancil (the lesser mousedeer), a creature long immortalised in local fable and folklore for its wit and intelligence.
To be held at the Badan Warisan, KL, the day-long Kanchil and Friends event will feature stories and facts linked to this cunning little creature whose population is being threatened by development.
The Sang Kancil appeared in the tale of ruler Parameswara and his escape from Temasek when the Majapahit invaded the island. One day, while looking for a place to settle down, Parameswara and his men came to a river bank. While resting beneath a tree, Parameswara caught sight of a mousedeer trying to cross a river on a fallen tree trunk. As it was about halfway through, one of Parameswara’s dogs gave chase. But before the dog could take a bite of the tiny creature, the mousedeer, instead of running, knelt down instead. Using its powerful hind legs, it kicked the canine on the nose, taking the dog by surprise and causing it to lose balance and fall into the river.
Amused by the mousedeer’s response, Parameswara was also inspired by the fact that such a tiny animal could defeat its prey many times its size. Parameswara decided not to run any more but settle down in the area and named it Melaka, after the tree where the kancil defeated the dog.
There are many other tales that have been told of the adventures of the cunning mousedeer: that it made a fool out of an elephant to escape being trapped in a trench, tricked tigers into not eating it, and made crocodiles line up so it could cross the river.
On March 18, however, visitors to the Kanchil And Friends event will get to learn more about this nusantara icon in a talk by renowned director Hassan Muthalib, the man responsible for the Sang Kancil TV animated series during the late 1980s. But it’s not only the kancil that will be in the spotlight.
There will also be talks conducted by a host of experts in their fields on other animals and their conservation, including gibbons, tree shrews, Bornean sunbears, owls, bats and primates.
TALKS, BOOTHS AND STALLS
A number of fringe activities will be held too, from 10.30am to 6pm, and these will include exhibition booths featuring carnivorous plants, a museum of zoology repository by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, a cave ecosystem by a cave management group and more.
Visitors can also trawl various booths selling books on topics related to Malaysian flora and fauna, and on the adventures of Sang Kancil.
Those looking for souvenirs and handicrafts made by the Orang Asals can check out the stalls selling the items.
Founder of the Malaysian Historical and Heritage Club, Bert Tan, elaborates that this event is being held to create an appreciation of and promote love for our fauna and flora and wildlife. “This event is made possible by our hardworking members, especially zoo-archaeologist Lim Tze Tshen who has managed to gather all the speakers,” adds Tan.
Among the speakers will be Dr Wong Siew Te who will be speaking on the conservation of the Bornean sunbear, Dr Nadine Rupert (from Universiti Sains Malaysia), who will give a review on primate research, and Dr Jayaraj Vijaya Kumaran (from Universiti Malaysia Kelantan) who will speak on tree shrews.
“During our last event, Tenok And Friends held last April, we saw more than 500 visitors,” says Tan. “This time, hopefully, we will get more people to come as it will be held on a Saturday and we’ve had more time to promote the event.
The 48-year-old adds: “This time we will also see a presentation by our younger participants, Sarah Cher, 9, and Jenna Elle, 6, who will be talking about the endangered Sumatran rhino and will conduct a quiz about the animal kingdom.
“ One of them will also teach visitors to make origami animals, including a horse.
“This event is not only for adults but also for children to come and have fun.”
When: March 18
Where: Badan Warisan, 2, Jalan Stonor, KL
For details, call 012-601 6371 (Lim). Check out Malaysian Heritage and History Club’s Facebook event page at www.facebook.com/events/662264907231828/