efe-epaGua Musang, Malaysia

In Malaysia's northeastern state of Kelantan, the humid forests are a source of food and cultural identity for the indigenous Temiar people.

But the thick jungles have become places of conflict for the Temiar as the state government and resource companies seek to exploit the forests' natural riches.

International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples', which falls on Thursday, recognizes the struggle of communities like the Temiar, who, like thousands of other indigenous groups around the world, face threats to their traditional way of life by larger societies' unrestrained economic development.

The Temiar number around 32,000, and are part of the Orang Asli - Malay for "indigenous" - peoples of Malaysia, who make up some 13 percent of the national population.

In a quiet village in Gua Musang province - inside the Gunung Stong Selatan forest reserve - some 800 Temiar live in simple homes and traditional huts.

Like in any almost any other village in Malaysia, some men play football and children play outside, but signs of the Temiar's struggle are just as apparent.

On the edge of the village, a blockade area made of temporary bamboo huts and guarded by local men serves as a protest against logging activity in the area, an efe-epa journalist reports.

Protest signs inside the huts condemn resource development, reading, "Logging / Rubber, Dam, Mine, Not Allowed In Indigenous Lands".

Many Temiar try to make money by selling fruits and vegetables in nearby towns, but their traditional hunting, fishing and gathering lifestyles have been disrupted by the logging industry.

Dendi, 26, a member of the Kelantan Orang Asli Network told epa that logging has exacerbated soil erosion, muddying up the rivers and making it harder for Temiars to catch fish.

"Everyone must understand that Orang Asli (have been) forest guards since a long time ago," he said.

According to Ahud Doga, 67, logging has also led to conflict between wild animals - such as elephants and bears - and humans over the same food sources in steadily shrinking forests.

As a result, local indigenous people have for the last few years protested against logging and durian plantations on their lands, set up several road blockades and faced arrest by the authorities.

The Kelantan Orang Asli Network chairman Mustafa Along said they have no plans to stop the blockades.

"Our demands are simple: recognise that the land...should be considered as ancestry status; ban all forms of logging, land clearing and mining in such lands, and help (us) rehabilitate the land scarred by the excess land clearing for over two decades," he said.

Both he and Dendi have been offered money - 200,000 MYR ($49,000) in Mustafa's case - to settle the issue or allow the loggers to pass the blockades, but both refused.

As an alternative to resource exploitation, the Temiar want the state government to allow tourism on their lands so that both the indigenous and Malay communities can benefit.

"The jungle is our home. It is our world. Destroying the jungle will destroy our way of life," Mustafa said.