Bolhassan and Golong (right) with the bamboo clams locally known as ‘ambal’.
ASAJAYA: The ‘Bamboo Clam’ season is here again but the catch of this popular seafood has declined over the years.
Bamboo clam locally known as ‘ambal’ or scientifically called ‘solen regularis’ is plentiful at the coastal muddy beach of villages of Asajaya District in Samarahan Division during the September to February monsoon season.
“It’s an important source of income for fishermen in the areas during the peak of the monsoon months in November, December and January,” Asajaya Tengah village head Golong Tahir said when met at the 4th Ambal Exploration 2015 held at Kampung Sambir here recently.
“The alien-like bamboo clam lives inside muddy sand and the way to get it out is to drip watery limestone paste into its burrow using a small bamboo stake, he said.
Golong said it was not easy to catch the clam nowadays as they had to walk one to two kilometres from the coast to the open sandy muddy beach at low tide.
Energy and patience are needed to catch a few kilogrammes of the tasty seafood compared to the days when their habitat was closer to the coast.
He said the clam’s decline in number could be due to over harvesting and water pollution from land clearings and chemicals used on crops that find their way to the coastal area.
Golong said Kampung Sambir, Kampung Beting Sebandi and the coastal areasof Asajaya are still home to the bamboo clam.
He is happy that the government is trying to promote the area through Pesta Ambal annually held in Asajaya. It is organised by Samarahan District Council.
He believed that sustainable management of the bamboo clam would be the best way to ensure the favourite seafood did not perish.
Termat Salleh, 57, was holding a worn-out ‘penugal’ or long wooden stake used to catch ambal over the years.
She said catching the bamboo clam was usually assigned to womenfolk helping their fisherman husbands.
“I joined the programme for the first time this year but I had a bad catch so decided to abandon it,” she said.
“Over the years the bamboo clam population had declined and if only this wooden stake can talk, it would tell you how different it was in the old days.”
Her daughter Norhayatti Derahim, 32, chipped in saying subsequently the womenfolk lost their extra income so she hoped something could be done to sustain the population of bamboo clams.
She said the price of the clams range from RM15 to RM20 per kg though could be a bit lower during the peak season.
Samarahan District Council Public Relations officer Bolhassan Mohamad said the programme was part of Pesta Ambal 2015 to be held at Asajaya Town Square this Saturday.
The festival is expected to be declared open by Asajaya assemblyman Datuk Abdul Karim Hamzah.
More than 50 participants from local committees and government agencies took part in a clam-catching competition during the programme yesterday.
The winner in the open category for local committees was Ameli Merdeka of Kpg Moyan Laut, first runner-up was Semi Undan of Kpg Serpan Laut and second runner-up, Osman Ahmad.
Among government agencies, Rahimah Yusop from Rela came out the winner, Zalisa from JPAM first runner-up and Rahani Undan from Rela, second runner-up.
They will collect their prizes at Pesta Ambal 2015 at the weekend.
The highlight of the day after spending five hours catching bamboo clams under the programme was a ‘Bejamuk Makan Ambal’ where participants and guests were invited to tuck into bamboo clam cooked in a tasty broth.
Samarahan District Council assistant secretary Ngerang Balan @ Freddie, councillors and organising chairman for the programme, councillor Tejuk were also present.
Participants venture to look for ambal at the muddy beach of Kpg Sambir. — Photos by Wilfred Pilo
Participants in this year’s Sarawak Bird Race prior to the flag-off.
KUCHING: The early morning rain did not dampen the enthusiasm of 38 bird lovers who tramped Borneo Highlands Resort (BHR), peering through their binoculars to identify birds dwelling this Important Bird Area (IBA) in the recent Sarawak Bird Race.
The race was organised by the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) Kuching branch in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism.
Tourism Ministry principle assistant secretary Connie Christopher Kesa and Tourism Malaysia Tourism Development Products deputy director Azhar Musydni Abdul Mutalib flagged off the participants who included 24 from the Beginners Birding Workshop held last month.
The winner in the competition was to be the team that saw the largest number of species within a specified time frame and area.
Winner in this year’s race was team Eagle Eyes comprising Hans Hazebroek and James Lee Fung Onn who saw 33 species.
Second place went to the team of Dolores Lim and Rosli Suleiman who saw 28 species of bird, while third-placed team of Daniel Jee and Hendry Michael Paong saw 27 species.
Connie in her closing address said the next Sarawak Bird Race would be held in late October or early November next year.
BHR located at Borneo Highlands in Padawan was declared an IBA in 2010 for hosting several endemic and endangered species of birds. It is part of a global network created by Birdlife International.