When the Fruit Season Starts to Change
Two years ago, fruit season was still plenteous. Only a few species of fruit that was found and was not spread evenly.
Fruit season for Orang Rimba (foresters who live in BDNP) in the forest area of Bukit Dua Belas National Park (BDNP), Jambi is a joyful season. The men will be having a bustle to create benuaron, a hut in the forest. Children and women will be cheerful. They called the plenteous fruit season as petahunon godong, while the remittent fruit season named as petahunan meralang. But whatever the season is, they continue to collect and harvest fruits. Half of the crops will be used as daily consumptions and the remnant yields will be sold. When durian is highly exuberated, Orang Rimba will process it to be lempuk (a kind of taffy) and joruk (durian acid/tempoyak; a salty condiment made from durian).
Fruit season basically happens in the early of the year, but it is indefinitely occurring each year. When durian season comes, Orang Rimba will be waiting in benuaron. They wait for durian to fall (labuh) while collecting other species of fruits. They also deduct activities outside the forest like they usually do every weekend; buying equipment and food supplies, such as hulled rice and other supplies and at the same time selling their crops to the tradaer or collector around interaction village or buffer of BDNP. These tendencies will be seen when petahunan godong happens.
This is what Orang Rimba expected to happen every year. In Kejasung Besar, whenever fruit season comes, Orang Rimba will travel everyday to harvesting fruits from dawn to twilight. Men and women who carry out some huge ambung (a container to put goods), spread out over every corner of the forest. After ambung has fully loaded, they will return to each hut (sonsudungon), but some of them will stay around durian site and hunting for preys, making lempuk and durian acid, collecting manau, and seeking for jernang.
In an unoccupied time of fruits- seeking, the women will be seen creating plaited mats and large ambung in sonsudungon; a temporary hut that is specially built for they sleep and stay the night in forest. Plaited mats are used as a base for sleeping and ambung will be used for bringing goods, such as fruits. The men will be busy carrying manau, other than harvesting fruits, fishing and hunting animals.
The children of Orang Rimba, especially the boys participate in fruits harvesting. Oftentimes, they swing on the trees or ukar (tree rope) to collect fruits. They are very agile and fast in climbing trees. Jumping and hanging in the tree rope (ukar).
Some species of fruits are avoided to be eatten by them, namely ridon, kemang, ramanai, ranggung, durian marok, kepesung, and punti. Orang Rimba believe, children who eat those fruits will be prone to disease because the fruits are considered as bedewo (secure by the Gods) so that it is bad to be eaten by children. Every parents of Orang Rimba is obliged to deliver this belief to their children. If the parents or other people give those fruits to the children and the children who eat the fruits sick or die, then the person who gave the fruits will receive a penalty.
Differ from boys, the girls of Orang Rimba more pleasant to collect snapper and durian. They convince that snapper is a special fruit for women and a boy who eats snapper will be called as a greedy person (jenton jengki). He will become a laughingstock, he will be mocked and offended by the girls.
In Kejasung Besar will be found many species of seasonal fruits. From durian, rambutan, duku, wild rambai, bedaro, tampui, mangosteen, gelugur, benton, buntor, tamarind, bekil, jackfruit, surion, etc.
Several names of those fruits have not been available in modern market or other places and because of this, the names of the fruits still use the native language, although some species of fruits consist of related genus and have a scientific classification. Some species of these endemic fruits are more and more difficult to be found outside BDNP jungle as it replaced by various species of cultivation plants, such as palm, forest for industrial plants, and agricultural field of outside community which considered more economically valuable. Some varieties of plants have gone because of deforestation, degradation, forest burning and forest land conversion to mining area.
Now, the condition has changed much. Two years ago, they were still coped with plenteous fruit season. This year, petahunan meralang comes. Only a few quantity and species of fruit that were found, and distributed evenly around BDNP. It is different among one area and other areas.
In the northern part of Kejasung Besar, fruit season comes faster than in Kedundung Muda and Makekal in which located in the northern and western part. Orang Rimba from southern area who is melangun in the northern area, and they reside there, lived up the fruit season earlier than other areas. But Orang Rimba in every area, northern and southern part of BDNP had agreed that the fruit season this year was counted to petahunan meralang.
Formerly, Orang Rimba in Kedundung Muda had a hunch, if this year in Kejasung Besar appeared plentiful fruits, it is almost certainly that the next year would be petahunan godong in Kedundung Muda and even in all jungle that exist in BDNP. Now, this has changed.
They believe, the indefinite and irregular fruit season in the forest is not caused by the great number of intruder animals like cegak, boruk (Macaca Fascicularis), simpui/simpai/monkey (Presbytis Melalophos), gibbon (Symphalangus Syndactylus), honey bear (Helarctos Malayanus), etc. How much the animals eat fruits, if petahunan godong will be happening, then the trees will have plenteous prospective fruits or buds.
Their conclusion is, the changing season that is unpredictable becomes the causal factor. Rainy season comes, but the heat is not different from dry season. The season becomes irregular and this may be caused by the more cut down and alteration of forest area and old shrubs have altered its function. The abandoned field has changed, wide-scale of coconut and rubber plantation around the southern shrine and even the western BDNP.
This conclusion is not gibberish. The signs can be recognized by the animal migration. The animals which have expelled were run into the jungle in BDNP, competing with Orang Rimba. The wood cassava plant and other plants become prey for the animals such as cigak, boruk, etc. The tip of the anak parah leaf (sub-rubber plant/ Hevea braziliensis) also becomes animals’ prey. The buds and fruits which have not ripe, also been taken.
This kind of change is not only affected to the number of fruits that can be harvested in fruit season, but also started affecting the endemic fruits to die. Several species still be found by Orang Rimba but other species are clearly threatened to extinct.
It is true, what Orang Rimba said: the nature supposed to be well-preserved and discreetly managed. They are hanging out their life to the forest, but they do not extract or exploit the forest randomly. They have learned hereditarily that if people treat nature wisely, the nature will always give merciful, protection and subsistence for the people.