BACK TO NATURE
Malaysia’s Green Lungs
By Hiranmayii Awli Mohanan
Picture Courtesy of Tourism Malaysia
Beside its culture and food, Malaysia is known for being one of the most diverse regions in the world for its virgin, pre-historic rainforests that sprawls for hundreds of kilometers that are home to millions of flora and fauna. In this issue, we urge you to rediscover nature and the natural beauty our country has to offer.
LATA BERKOH, TAMAN NEGARA
Lata Berkoh is one of the jewels of Taman Negara, a spectacular cascade that marks the limit of easy navigability on the river. It is
a perfect spot to relax and enjoy the rapids from the rocky area while having your picnic lunch. The popular choice of transport to Sungai Tahan is via a wooden boat which takes about an hour depending on the river level. That said, the journey is serene and tranquil, covered by the canopy of trees above.
ENDAU ROMPIN NATIONAL PARK
Endau-Rompin National Park is a protected tropical rainforest in the southernmost prolongation of the Tenasserim Hills, Malaysia. It covers an area of approximately 870 km2 (340 sq miles), making it the second largest national park in Peninsular Malaysia after Taman Negara. This ancient rainforest realm in north-eastern Johor is a treasure trove of biodiversity, and a critical habitat so important for the survival of the country’s globally-threatened megafauna, including the Malayan Tiger, Malayan Tapir and Asian Elephant. There are two official entry points to the park — the Peta entrance located along the eastern boundary in the district of Mersing, and the Selai entrance at the southwestern boundary in the district of Segamat.
AMAN NEGARA KELANTAN, KUALA KOH
The Kuala Koh National Park straddles the Kelantan border and is within the district of Gua Musang. It is situated in the Bukit Hantu Forest Reserve and Lebir Forest Reserve. In terms of accessibility, the Kuala Koh National Park is located 96 kilometres from Gua Musang town and is easily accessible by road, specifically Jalan Gua Musang-Kuala Krai. The natural assets of the Kuala Koh National Park is its variety of flora and fauna as well as the tropical rainforest ecosystem which makes it well suited for ecotourism activities, apart from research and development (R & D). Visitors can also participate in fun activities such as bird watching of more than 300 species, fishing, jungle trekking via interpretive trails, canoeing or rafting and camping.
A national park since 1957, Bako offers the perfect introduction to Sarawak’s forests and wildlife. The park spans 27 sq km, covering the northern tip of the Muara Tebas peninsula. Despite its seemingly small size, Bako comprises a wide range of vegetation – swamp forest, scrub-like padang vegetation, mangrove forest, dipterocarp forest, delicate cliff vegetation and more. In fact, you can see almost every type of vegetation found in Borneo at Bako. Bako also has a rich variety of wildlife and a coastline covered with small bays, coves and beaches. The park has a number of well-marked trails offering interesting walks ranging from short pleasant strolls to serious full-day hikes. Unlike some national parks, visitors to Bako are almost guaranteed to see wildlife. Long-tailed macaques and silver leaf monkeys are ever present, wild boar are often found rummaging around the park HQ, while squirrels and monitor lizards are also common. There is every chance of seeing the rare and unusual proboscis monkeys on trails such as Telok Paku and Telok Delima, particularly if you go late afternoon. You are more likely to see wildlife if you quietly follow the trails.
RAINFOREST DISCOVERY CENTRE (RDC), SANDAKAN
The Rainforest Discovery Centre (RDC) is one of the most accessible natural rainforests in Sabah. It sits by a lake at the edge of the Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve in Sandakan. The RDC has been in operation since 1996 for environmental education purposes. Today, it is a 3-in-1 park (i.e. wildlife, bird and plant) for nature lovers and bird watchers where they can see the unique flora and fauna of Borneo. To students, it’s the best outdoor classroom to learn about the rich biodiversity of the rainforest ecosystem. The 4,300-hectare KabiliSepilok- Forest Reserve has gained birders’ recognition worldwide for its iconic Bornean Bristlehead, Black & Crimson Pitta, Blue-headed Pitta, Giant Pitta, Black Hornbill, Rhinoceros Hornbill and more. Visitors can walk along the trails and become acquainted with green giants such as the mengaris tree, one of the tallest tree in Borneo. Besides soaking up the sights and getting a good workout, visitors can refer to the interpretive panels along the trail, which has descriptions about unique residents of the forest.