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Royal Belum Rainforest

 

Endangered wildlife

The gene pool of our most precious wildlife remains safe in Belum. There are an estimated 60-70 tigers roaming around in Belum, the Seladangs survive here in groups of single males and their harems; and the Sumatran Rhinos are estimated at 160 individuals. Elephants live in large tight knit families, binturongs come out at night, Malayan sun bears scale trees for huge honey combs and serow hide away in the limestone hills. The wild fishing cats sit patiently for its food to swim down the streams as the wild cat crouch in thick undergrowth. The leopard cats, clouded leopards, black panthers, vipers, flying foxes, 200 species of colourful birds, otters, porcupines, armadillos, reptiles, dholes - these are only a small number of animals species that share the space.

Indigenous people have lived in harmony with the jungle, can we?

But for how long? The danger faced in Belum is not the loss of habitat but the dangers of excessive poaching. Policing in the area is restricted because of lack of personnel to protect the vast reserve. The threat of local poachers and those from Thailand is ever present. Wildlife trafficking is becoming a serious problem and more so for the meat and exotic pet market.

A recent report in the local media highlighted an increase in the number of game meat restaurants in city suburbs. It was noted that a particular restaurant in KL had a collection of endangered species or parts of them, on their menu. Bear paws, fishing cats, a serow head, flying foxes, wild boars, monitor lizards, armadillos, snakes, civet cats are common on the menu. An illegal shipment to Vietnam, containing over 1000 frozen armadillos was exposed by a group of custom officers at the Klang docks in early April 2002. These animals are a favourite local delicacy and sold openly at markets in Vietnam. These harmless creatures are also poached for their scales which are sold as guitar picks! Snakes and tortoises have been found smuggled in lorries and trucks crossing borders for the food market. Even Slow Loris' have been found drugged, packed into small cylindrical containers and stashed in the holds bound for countries like Russia. Too many loopholes in the system will one day deplete the gene pool of many of our endangered species...and that day is not far away.

The realm of the tiger

In October 2001, the Sultan of Perak - Sultan Azlan Shah made an official visit to Upper Belum.. Having heard reports estimating at least 60 - 70 tigers roaming the area of Belum, Sultan Azlan Shah declared the area, &;the land of Malayan Tigers&; in hope that their rights be preserved in these lands.

The Malayan Tiger (Panthera tigris corbetti), is our hope for a new lease of life. In India, the Indian Tigers frequently come into contact with villagers hence they are aware of the dangers that humans pose to them. However, the tigers in our jungles seldom if ever,come into contact with humans. Once you step into their territory, they assume that you are fair game to them. They attack with no qualms and do not fear firearms. Protecting territory is an instinct. We do that too, so what's so difficult to understand? But do we have the right to eliminate one of God's creation to protect another?

Although the symbol of the regal tiger is used in countless ways - as corporate logos or branding, integrated into the emblems of countries(such as in the official emblem of our nation) but this highly revered beast is also now increasingly being hunted down as pests.

The poor tiger, hunted down by villagers and poachers. Courtesy of Arkib Negara

In the 1920&;s when Malaya was almost entirely covered in jungle, the tiger was man&;s no.1 enemy. Villagers were afraid to leave their homes at night for fear that they may be ambushed along the way by a hungry tiger or worse&;.by a were-tiger. Stories were rife in the old days of these half human-half beasts that lived among the people. At night, when the time was right&;. these humans turned into tigers terrorising villagers in their wake.

So petrified were the villagers, it began a common practice that hunters were brought in to rid territorial tigers. One such man was Colonel A. Locke. However, unlike other gamehunters, Colonel Locke never hunted for the sake of hunting nor killed for the sake of killing. As a District Officer in the rural areas of Terengganu, Colonel&;s job was to rid the area of any sort of enemy to the people whether they be communist terrorists or man-eating tigers. Otherwise, he had admirable respect for the beast.

As he wrote in his book ( The Tigers of Terengganu), &; I sat over kills with Malays and spent hours discussing tigers with them. Eventually, I became so engrossed in these absorbing animals that the opportunity to study them assumed greater importance than the need to shoot them, although shoot them I did when I must.&; (1954)

In the early 1930's, village women were taught to handle rifles by the authorities to protect themselves and the village against communists and perhaps the tiger. Courtesy of Arkib Negara Malaysia

This was how the villagers and rangers used to rid them of tigers until recently. The Malays use spring gun, pit trap, live trap, poison and snare to kill tigers. Those tigers injured in the process but managed to escape become highly dangerous as they turn to livestock and people for food. This happens also when the tiger is a mother with cubs, too old or too sickly. The problem that the local villagers have to understand is that livestock and people are easy game to the tigers. Many villagers send their cattle out to pasture by the edge of the jungle and sometimes do not herd them back to their stables in the evenings hence exposing them to the dangers of the night. Like many of the rainforest animals, the tiger comes out to feed when it is dark. Rubber tappers have fallen victim to the tigers for they come out to tap the rubber trees just before break of dawn, the tiger&;s most active hours. Until year 2001, those tigers labelled man-eater or even as a cattle thief,were usually hunted down.

With more awareness and recognition for the beasts, the wildlife department are beginning to trap these tigers to relocate them to zoos. It&;s slightly better than shooting them on the spot but another problem is posed - over crowding at zoos. Because research to relocate them to other reserve parks have not been conducted, it is not certain if translocation is a good idea as encroachment into other tiger territories may create greater problems. So, their future remains uncertain.

Tigers kill and maim for two reasons only&;.food and territory. Which would you fall under if you find yourself face to face with a tiger? It really doesn&;t matter as it doesn&;t matter to the beast either. Well, I fib. There have been rare occasions when a tiger has been known to kill more than one in one hunt. It has been said that young tigers may kill several animals at one time to show off his skill and strength. However, this act is not usual.

The tiger kill with their teeth and not by slashing with their forepaws. It jumps onto the back of the animal, gripping onto the head, shoulder or neck with their sharp, sickle-shaped claws as the beast try desperately to shake off the predator. (This is only for large kills like the elephant or gaur). It then sinks its teeth into the neck close to the head and holds the animal until it fades away. Once down, the kill is moved to a sheltered eating place. The tiger prefers to dine alone although many people mistake the pawprints around the area of the kill to be of two tigers. (the front paws of the tiger are much bigger than the hind paws - hence the confusion). There have been incidents when trekkers in the Jerangau area in Pahang (a long time ago before the logging began) used to stumble on tiger dens in thick bushes along the river. Often the area would be littered with wild boar bones and bits of hide. Tigers do not eat the inerts or entrails of a kill, nor the skin. These are left to the monitor lizards to feed on.

sunset is when the hunting begins

The tiger begins its meal, buttocks first. If you happen to come across a carcass in the jungle, you may be able to tell a tiger kill from the claw marks and the method of killing. The tiger will not hesitate to eat flesh that has been left rotting. A full grown tiger may eat as much as 40lbs at a meal and even scavenge when they have to. Colonel Locke states, &; I have heard of a tigress making unusual blowing noises when eating from a dead buffalo of which little is left than a seething mass of maggots and have no doubt that she was blowing to clear the grubs from her nostrils.&; (Excerpt taken from &;Tigers of Terengganu: A.Locke; MBRAS). Unlike the Indian tiger who has a vast choice of cuts from all types of hoofed wildlife, the Malayan tiger&;s main diet is the wildboar. It is not unusual to find tigers chewing on frogs and even on large insects. A recent newspaper even reported that a couple of tigers were spotted by a local orchard owner feasting on durians at his orchard!!!! (The Star, 2nd July 2002) This certainly shows that the area is too small for the tigers to hunt and they are looking for alternative food source. For the Malayan Tiger to survive, it must have a healthy stock of wild boar in its territory.

The overall population of tigers in Malaysia is currently totalled between 491 -510(survey conducted by the DWNP). The threat of habitat loss has also increased tiger activities in areas. Records of livestock predation (DWNP) from 1977 to 1997 showed that 1,531 cattle, 54 buffaloes, 89 goats, 175 sheep, 2 horses and 6 dogs were killed by tigers in Pahang, Perak, Terengganu and Kelantan. Most of these attacks occurred in palm oil plantations. This is no wonder. Ever had the most unfortunate opportunity to &;run into&; cows or sheep whilst driving through the coastal and rural roads of Malaysia? Well, most of us have, and we wonder why that happens.

The need to protect these tigers is not an obligation, it is a priority. What with the poaching and the habitat destruction, these big cats will soon be extinct and what of it if the only reminder of its existence is in the brands of products we use. What good is that?

For more on saving our tigers, click to http://www.5tigers.org.

For more pressing news on the undecided fate of tigers in Malaysia, click to http://www.wwfmalaysia.org . What can we do?

For kids to learn and get involved in tiger conservation click to:

http://www.tigersalive.com

To know more about the programme conducted in Malaysia to help save the tigers:

http://www.wcsmalaysia.org/t4t.htm

The future of the Belum Valley

It is estimated that there are at least 60 salt licks scattered around the Belum area. The salt licks are important for the animals&; wellbeing and there is a potential for the operators to develop certain areas for eco-tourism. However, these plans must be researched extensively because it has been proven that introduction of people to the area will cause the animals to flee from their usual waterholes and saltpans, which has happened in Taman Negara. The animals are sensitive to new things and new things must be paced in slowly.Eco-tourism is simply not a buzzword, and it needs the cooperation of everyone including the tourists, the wildlife department and even the NGOs. And this starts with the protection of the wildlife and flora of that area. With that sort of cooperation - then there will be a better future.

 

Accommodation & Packages to Perak ~ Ipoh, Gopeng, Taiping, Lumut , Pulau Pangkor, Maxwell Hill , Kuala Kangsar, Belum and Surroundings

Accommodation :

Sungkai

| Felda Residence Trolak | Felda Residence Hot Springs Sungkai |

Gopeng

| Adeline's Homestay | Adeline Villa | Ulu River Lodge |

Ipoh

| City Homestay Ipoh | DWJ Hotel | Excelsior Hotel | FairPark Hotel | Grand View Hotel | Heritage Hotel | Hillcity Hotel & Condo | Impiana Hotel | Kinta Riverfront Hotel & Suites | Majestic Hotel | MH Hotel | Paragon City Hotel | Regalodge | Ritz Garden Hotel | Seri Malaysia Ipoh | Sun Golden Inn | Syuen Hotel | The Banjaran Hotspring Retreat | Tower Regency Hotel & Apartments | YMCA Ipoh |

Taiping

| Casavilla Hotel | Casuarina Inn | Flemington Hotel | Hotel Furama | Hotel Fuliyean | Legend Inn | Panorama Hotel | Potato Hotel | Taiping Perdana Hotel | Sentosa Villa | Seri Malaysia Hotel | SSL Traders Hotel | Taiping Golf Resort | Vistana Micassa Hotel |

Maxwell Hill

| Bukit Larut Hill Resort | Cendana |

Lumut

| Best Western Marina Island Resort | Lumut Country Resort | The Orient Star Resort | Swiss Garden Resort & Spa Damai Laut | Marina Cove Resort |

Pulau Pangkor

Teluk Nipah | Anjungan Beach Resort & Spa | Mizam Resort | Havana Beach Resort | Nipah Bay Villa | Palma Beach Resort | Hornbill Resort |

Dutch Fort | Tiger Rock |

Pasir Bogak | Amaya Pangkor Resort | BestStay Hotel Pangkor Island | Coral Bay Pangkor Resort | SeaView Hotel | Golden Beach Resort | Puteri Bayu Beach Resort | Pangkor Sandy Beach Resort |

Teluk Dalam | Teluk Dalam Resort |

Teluk Belanga | Pangkor Island Beach Resort |

Pangkor Laut | Pangkor Laut Resort |

Kuala Kangsar

| Double Lion Hotel | Rumah Rehat Kuala Kangsar | Perak Riverside Resort |

Temenggor/Belum

| Belum Rainforest Resort | Banding Lakeside Inn |

Packages & Trips :

Camping Trips

| Trans Gopeng - Cameron Highlands Camping & Trekking | Ulu Geroh Rafflesia Trek & Rafting Trip |

Water Activities

| White Water Rafting at Gopeng and Caving at Gua Tempurung |

 

Malaysia Rainforests, Sanctuaries and Parks

Peninsula Malaysia - Rainforests, Sanctuaries and Parks

Perak

| Bota Kanan River Terrapin Wildlife Conservation Centre | Royal Belum State Park | Sungkai Sambar Deer and Pheasant Wildlife Reserve | Temenggor Forest Reserve |

Johor

| Endau-Rompin National Park |

Pahang

| Taman Negara - Kuala Tahan | Jenderak Seladang Sanctuary | Kenong Rimba Reserve | Kuala Gandah Elephant Centre | Taman Negara - Merapoh | Tasik Chini Trek |

Selangor

| Kuala Selangor Fireflies | Kuala Selangor Nature Park | Sungai Dusun Rhino Sanctuary |

Kedah

| Langkawi Mangrove Swamps | The Datai, Langkawi | Ulu Muda Reserve |

Negri Sembilan

| Ulu Bendol Reserve | Berembun Forest Reserve | Gua Batu Maloi Forest Reserve |

Sabah and Sarawak - Borneo Rainforest, Sanctuaries and Parks

Sarawak

| Semengoh Wildlife/Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre | Bako National Park | Niah National Park | Kayakking in Kuching | Kayakking with Dolphins | Borneo Highlands Kayaking and Semengoh Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre Adventure Trip | Mulu National Park | Tenyok Rimba |

Sabah

| Tabin Wildlife Reserve | Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre | Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary & Sukau | Gomantong Cave |

 

Short Adventure & Nature Trips

Peninsular Malaysia

Water Activities

Perak

| White Water Rafting at Gopeng and Caving at Gua Tempurung |

Selangor

| White Water Rafting at Sungai Selangor | Abseiling and Tubing at Sungai Selangor |

Camping Trips

Pahang

| Taman Negara Inner Jungle Trip (Trekking) | Kenong Rimba Camping |

Johor

| Endau National Park Camping |

Perak

| Trans Gopeng - Cameron Highlands Camping & Trekking | Ulu Geroh Rafflesia Trek & Rafting Trip |

Trekking Trips

Kedah

| Jungle Trekking in Langkawi's Treasured Rainforest | Trekking For Families with Kids in Langkawi |

Nature & Countryside Trips

Selangor

| Kuala Selangor Fireflies | Kuala Gandah Elephant Centre |

Birdwatching Trips

Kedah

| Birdwatching in Langkawi |

Nature Photography Trips

Kedah

| Escorted Nature & Wildlife Photography Trip in Langkawi |

River Kayakking Courses

Selangor

| River Kayakking Basic Course at Sungai Selangor |

Combination Trips

Nature/ Highland/ Island

| 7 Days 6 Nights Malaysia Nature & Island Trip | 9 Days 8 Nights Malaysia Highland, Nature & Island Trip |

Borneo ~ Sabah & Sarawak

Water Activities

Sabah

| White Water Rafting Day Trips |

Sarawak

| Kayakking in Kuching | River Cruise with Dolphins | Borneo Highlands Kayaking and Semengoh Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre Adventure Trip | Kuching Caving Adventure | The Kuching Tringgus Trail (Landrover Adventure) | The Bau Gold Mining History Trail |

Mountain Climbing

Sabah

| Mount Kinabalu Climb |

Sarawak

| Mulu Pinnacles Climb | Mount Trusmadi Climb |

Birdwatching Trips

Sabah

| Birding in Sabah,Borneo |

Nature & Countryside Trips

Sabah

| Garama Wetland Cruise |