Pulau Besar, located 15km off the coast of Melaka, has long been an island held in religious and mythical esteem: Graves fabled to be of individuals who first brought Islam to Malaysia are located there, and a large boulder at the island’s peak that allegedly grants wishes, have long been sites that pilgrims of all religions have flocked to.
As it were, the island’s appeal has caught the attention of porcine visitors, and they too have made the journey from nearby Sumatra across the Straits of Malacca, to its shores.
Fishermen have reported sightings of the swimming pigs crossing the waters at night, and it’s now the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) responsibility to deal with the invasion.
Melaka’s Agriculture, Agro-Based, Entrepreneur Development and Cooperative Committee chairman Norhizam Hassan Baktee told The Star that three “sharp-shooters” were being deployed to the island to deal with the wild boars and piglets and “save Pulau Besar from the invasion.”
Pulau Besar, Big Island in English, has had a colorful history, ranging from ancient mythologies of fairy princesses, gravestone, and being the starting point of explorers’ voyages to India, Sri Lanka and Africa, to more recent developments and tourist-attraction false starts.
In the 90s, Malaysia tried to pivot the island as a tourist resort, building a hotel complex and developing a golf course on the island, but within a few years, they shutdown operations. In recent years, many proposals have been thrown the island’s way, including oil storage site, duty free zone, and cocoa plantation, but none have come to fruition as of yet.
However, enterprising self-proclaimed ustaz have seen business take off, promising visitors granted prayers, and guided pilgrimages to spots on the island in exchange for cash. Locals have even started selling their own “blessed” artifacts like joss sticks and garlands.
State Islamic authorities have had to move graves, take down worship spots and post signboards reminding visitors that such activities go against their religious teachings.
An adventurous couple who recently visited the island wrote on their blog that while the island was described as “uninhabited,” they spotted make-shift homes inside the abandoned hotel structure.
If you’re thinking all of this sounds a bit wild, exotic and fun – we’ll let you know that the island is very easy to get to from the Melaka mainland, but according to the traveling duo, the beaches are wildly filthy, the pools filled with green, stagnant water, and it’s kinda smelly.
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