For most of us, Google Earth is a convenient tool of learning. But for the indigenous people of Malaysia, the Orang Asal, it’s a lot more than just that. The tool is used to not only document their ancestral lands, but also monitor wildlife population and migration patterns. It is also used to watch for illegal logging activities.
This is done through the Google Earth Outreach program. Among other things, the program aims to raise awareness of the Orang Asal’s way of life and plight. As a result of this, two of these can now be found on the Google Earth Voyager feature, with one more to be released this weekend.
In addition to the Google Earth Voyager stories, the search giant is also sponsoring a nationwide indigenous mapping initiative. It’s being carried out by Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (JOAS). The NGO umbrella meets with the indigenous villagers and trains them to use Google’s tools to that end. To date, 50 villages have been mapped out.
Google announced the two new, and one upcoming, Voyager stories in conjunction with the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, which falls on 9 August. Head to Google Earth to learn more about the culture of Malaysia’s own indigenous people, as well as others around the world.