Pedal to the Mettle

09 February 2018

Buaya Puchong 4x4 Adventure is a group of four-wheel drive enthusiasts who use their off-road adventures to deliver aid to remote Orang Asli villages around the country.

When the east coast was crying out for help in the great floods of 2014, Buaya Puchong 4x4 Adventure famously stepped up to the plate.

At the end of 2014, most of Malaysia’s east coast was submerged in water. Hundreds of thousands were displaced, 21 were killed. Aid collection centres started popping-up, collecting items for flood relief. This was all well and good, but there was still the matter of getting the goods into these disaster-struck areas; those who wanted to help didn’t have the means nor the mettle to drive to remote areas to deliver aid.

The playground in Puchong.

Enter the Buaya Puchong 4×4 Adventure team, a 100-strong group of four-wheel drive enthusiasts who have been involved in disaster relief work since December 2006. In the 11 years since its formation, the crew has delivered aid to past disasters in Johor, Kedah, Pahang and Kelantan.

Fred Leong, Buaya Puchong 4x4 member.

As Buaya Puchong member Fred Leong says, “We helped out during the Pengerang oil spill, the Bukit Antarabangsa landslide and the Bertam Valley mudslide.”

“The 2014 flood disaster was the last major disaster we were involved in. For about two months, members were out assisting the Malaysian Red Crescent and other NGOs in delivering food, medical aid and installing water treatment systems.

“We were in Mentakab, Temerloh, and Kuantan in Pahang, and Gua Musang and Kuala Krai in Kelantan,” he adds.

But it’s not just disasters that gets the group into action. Buaya Puchong has also been working with groups like Food Aid, Reach Out Malaysia and Rise Against Hunger to send food and medical relief to Orang Asli villages for years, such as in Pos Simpor and Pos Gawin in Kelantan, Pos Lenjang and Kampung Nyamuk in Pahang.

“We are open to assist any groups and NGOs that may need our help,” Leong says.

It might seem like the group’s formidable name was chosen by selecting an animal that lives up to their fortitude instead of the other way around, but interestingly enough, the name Buaya Puchong is literal.

Buaya Puchong 4x4 members pose in front of their machines.

The Wildlife Department once asked group member Steven Lee to assist in pulling out a trapped crocodile somewhere in the outskirts of Puchong, and Buaya Puchong was born. “The crocodile only survived a week away from the wild,” Leong says, sadly.

His concern for the animal isn’t at odds with the weekend off-roading the group engages in. Off-roading, for those not in the know, has gained a reputation for not being the most environmentally friendly of outdoors activities. It’s an easy mistake to make, given that the trucks they drive look tailor-made to flatten anything in their way.

Buaya Puchong takes great care to avoid spoiling their stomping grounds. “Like many off-road groups, we practise low-impact camping and we tread lightly,” Leong explains, referring to the use of mud terrain tyres instead of those for extreme terrains, which tend to dig deeper ruts and holes.

Members attaching a winch strap to a tree.

“We are not trailblazers opening up new trails,” he says. “For our community service activities to Orang Asli villages, we drive on logging tracks or existing village roads.”

The concern for their surroundings doesn’t end there. Buaya Puchong also takes great pain to carry all its non-perishable waste back into town, disinfect ground-dug toilets, and discourage members from polluting rivers by “playing” in them.

Members demonstrating a winch rescue.

The croc that gave the club its name immortalised.

“We use modern camping equipment, such as gas stoves, camp beds and chairs,” explains Leong. “We do not need to cut small trees or bamboos unlike boy scouts building gadgets for beds, tables and chairs.”

In that regard, hunting is also expressly forbidden in Buaya Puchong’s adventures. “We encourage all members to respect nature so we can enjoy them.”

Buaya Puchong membership is open to anyone, with or without 4x4 trucks. Reach out to the team on Facebook or call 012 220 5145 (James).

By Helen Khoo

This article is related to OFF THE BEAT BUAYA PUCHONG AID RELIEF

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