Ahmad Hermi – Naturalist
In this interview, Ahmad Hermi, Junglewalla‘s resident naturalist, shares some unique observations about Langkawi’s biodiversity and how we can learn from it.
What do you do and how did you get into the industry?
I met Mr Irshad Mobarak (founder of Junglewalla) and followed one of his nature walks. I was deeply inspired to be involved in nature conservation after listening to him speak. I found my way to nature and joined Junglewalla in 2015.
What’s a memory of nature from your childhood or travels that stands out?
Climbing up Mount Kinabalu in Sabah and witnessing the view from the summit. It was no easy climb for a child due to the strong, cold wind at that time. The temperature was cold enough to form icicles on my balaclava. The sense of achievement was beyond compare once I reached the summit. It taught me that perseverance and hard work is rewarding.
What’s the best/ worst part of your job?
Working under the sun has made my once fair complexion tanned. My daughter says I look like a panda and forces me to use a whitening cream. 🤣
What’s your favourite beach in Langkawi?
I’m more of a jungle and mountain person actually, but I do enjoy the beach when it’s serene and quiet.
What’s your favourite food and beverage pairing?
I love yong tau foo and A&W root beer.
What’s one mind-blowing fact about nature you’d like to share?
Nature has so much that we can learn from. How the trees and animals adapt to live in their environment, and ingenious adaptations are fascinating. Learning from them is a sure way to enable us to solve a lot of our problems in many fields. For example, giant pandan inspired the way we build bridges in the modern-day. It’s so obvious yet deluded human civilization for thousands of years until we took the time to observe natural patterns.
What’s something unique about Langkawi’s ecosystem?
The interconnected relationship between different rock formations and the creation of different types of soil substrate is easily observed here. Subsequently, it’s also clear to see the high biodiversity of flora and fauna living on the said substrate. It’s a perfect example of how biomass is directly related to local geology and climate – the inseparable relationship and dependency of all life to mother earth.
Where do you go in Langkawi to relax?
I like camping or birdwatching in the jungle, mountain climbing or simply kayaking in the pristine mangrove river.
What’s one of the craziest things you’ve seen behind the scenes?
I’ve seen some tourists approach a wild cobra at a roadside very very close to film them with their mobile phone, despite me warning them to keep some distance. I realized later the said tourist was non-English speaking and didn’t understand what I was saying. I was so worried my heart nearly exploded at that moment. Fortunately, nothing happened as the cobra just slithered away from the scene.
The perfect day off would be…
… a peaceful camp in the jungle where all the shy, rare birds and animal show themselves in front of me while I’m drinking a cup of tea at the campsite.
A day in the life of Ahmad Hermi is …
…all about learning, observing nature and trying to relate how we belong in the bigger picture. And, sharing it with others to create awareness.
What do you do for fun?
Observe animal behaviour and learn from them. Try to make sense of what I observe.
What’s something you’d like guests to know about Junglewalla?
We are more than just an eco-tour operator. We are promoting eco-awareness through education and first-hand experience in a fun way.
What’s something you’d like people to know about being a naturalist as a profession?
You need to be really passionate and serious about it. The amount of learning involved is never-ending. You will get muddy, dirty, tanned, sunburned, bitten or scratched by animals. But trust me, it really makes life worth living.
What’s your view on the hospitality industry in Malaysia?
It’s like our second nature that it’s not an industry. Malaysia and hospitality are inseparable. It’s in our culture to be humble, polite and hospitable to our guests. (Except when we are behind the steering wheel where some of us transformed into a monkey 🤣)
What’s one thing we could all do that would make the world a better place?
Understanding and acceptance over everything. And to not impose our ideals unto others. We could do a lot if we are to step out of our comfort zone and convenient mindset. Instead of arrogantly changing the world to suit our needs, we need to change ourselves and live within the world’s ecosystem in harmony. We are the only life form on this planet that is not doing that.
What’s in store for you in the upcoming months?
Migratory birds season.