Nomads of the Borneo Rainforest

The Penan inhabit the Malaysian state of Sarawak, in northern Borneo. Some of them continue to live as nomadic hunter-gatherers, one of the world's few peoples remaining true to this oldest of human lifestyles.

Today the Penan are under assault. For years industrial logging has been destroying their homeland, and Penan communities continue to oppose these encroachments and to assert their rights over their traditional territories.


Nomads of the Dawn - The Penan of the Borneo Rainforest. This book combines unique photographs with the words of nomadic men, women and children. Here are some extracts from this work by Wade Davis, Ian Mackenzie and Shane Kennedy.

Bruno Mansers Tagebücher aus dem Regenwald (Bruno Manser's rainforest diaries) Bruno Manser lived with the nomadic Penan for seven years, and knew their culture and language better than any other outsider. His diaries (in German only) and various other books and films by him and others in German, English, and French can be ordered from this site.

Penan Dictionary A dictionary and grammar of the Eastern Penan language.

Sarawak Peoples Campaign Archives from the website of a now inactive NGO, containing quite a range of written information about Penan culture plus a map and photographs.


Rengah Sarawak "Rengah" means 'news' in Penan, and this website brings information about the struggle of the Penan and other native peoples of Sarawak directly to the world. The combined effort of several Sarawak non-governmental organisations and communities, this site is the best source of current news about the struggle for land rights in the state.

Borneo Resources Institute (BRIMAS) An indigenous non-profit organisation working at the grass roots level in Sarawak. Actively supports Penan claims to their traditional land.

Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM - Friends of the Earth, Malaysia) For many years this NGO based in Penang, Malaysia, has been actively involved in supporting the Penan and other indigenous peoples.

Bruno-Manser-Fonds (BMF) For years this NGO based in Basel, Switzerland, has been a leading international advocate for the Penan. An excellent site, frequently updated, with numerous links. Your choice of English, German, or French.

The Borneo Project This Berkeley-based NGO assists indigenous communities in Borneo, including the Penan.

This page last updated 16.02.06
© webmaster Ian Mackenzie