Ranau's Moroli River a natural fish spa, eco-tourism spot
Published on: Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Kuching: What started as a fish and environmental conservation effort called the Tagal System in 2001 has eventually turned Moroli River at Kampung Luanti in Ranau, Sabah into a natural fish spa and eco-tourism spot.The villagers have worked together in preserving the river and acquired the skill of taming the "kelah" fish (mahseer) so that the fish can grab food from visitors' hands and give them the nibbling massage sensation.

In the local Kadazandusun dialect, "tagal" means no fishing, and the main purpose of the Tagal System is to preserve the environment and ecosystem to benefit future generations.

The programme is similar to the Tagang System implemented by the Sarawak Agriculture Department in several rivers in the State.

"These fishes are specifically trained by the villagers to perform the healing massage," said 62-year-old Kampung Luanti chief, Rusliah Mohd Mazlie.

She said the fish massage was deemed to have a curative effect on those who suffer from psoriasis.

"Come to Kampung Luanti for regular fish massages and you will enjoy smoother and more supple skin, just like a baby's bottom," she said with a chuckle.

According to Rusliah, every month the village collected between RM20,000 and RM30,000, and more during the school holidays with more visitors to the village to see the fishes and to have foot massage.

Each visitor is charged RM5 while foreign tourists are charged RM10 per person.

The writer interviewed Rusliah when he led a group of visitors from Kampung Semadang in Sarawak to Kampung Luanti recently to see for themselves how the Tagal System in Sabah is being managed as a source of income for villagers.

Kampung Semadang, situated in the Puncak Borneo area, about 40 kilometres from Kuching City, is one of the villages in Sarawak involved in the Tagang System programme which they started in 2007.

Rusliah said when the programme was introduced in the village, some villagers protested and there were irresponsible people caught for catching the fishes illegally along the Tagal System areas of the river.

"It is an offence for anyone to catch fish along the Tagal System areas and those found guilty can be fined up to RM3,000.

"However, a few years later everyone in this village are supportive of the programme and there are no more cases of people catching the fishes illegally," she said.

Kampung Luanti also has a homestay programme to make visitors feel at home each time.

Besides visiting the Kampung Luanti Tagal System, the group from Kampung Semadang also visited Pulau Manukan, Kinabalu Park, Desa Cattle Dairy Farm in Kundasang and Poring Hot Spring, and stayed at a homestay in Kundasang.

Keri Anak Mongi, 36, said he was so impressed with what he saw in Sabah and there were so many tourists in Sabah, while he did not see that many tourists in Sarawak.

He said besides the many beautiful places to visit in Sabah, especially in Ranau and Kundasang, he also liked the city life in Kota Kinabalu.

"It is so happening at night and you have plenty of food choices," said 61-year-old pensioner Allan Moha, while his wife Rubim Raki, 59, said she liked the beaches at Manukan Island.

Retired school teacher, Nelly Paya, 63, said she had visited several Asean countries and Europe, as well as several states in Malaysia, but commended Sabah as one of the nicest places she had ever visited.

"Sabah has everything to offer tourists and no wonder its tourism sector is so successful," she added.


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