Monday, March 11, 2013

Five Malaysian National Parks


Peninsular Malaysia is renowned for its rich bio-diversity.  The country hosts numerous species of flora and fauna that inhabit diverse terrains and ecosystems. However, many of these indigenous plant and animal species have now been declared as ‘endangered’ and the Malaysian government has thus created various national parks and reserves in an effort to conserve and protect its rich natural heritage.  Many of these nature reserves are in fact located within close proximity to major Malaysian cities, so the next time you visit Malaysia, you should try and include a national park (or two) in your itinerary.,
Kuala Selangor Nature Park

Situated a mere 20 kms from the heart of Kuala Lumpur, the Kuala Selangor Nature Park is easily accessed via a two hour drive from the Malaysian capital. This nature enclave encloses three main habitats, a man-made 25-acre brackish lake system specially created to cater to the park’s more than 150 species of birds; a secondary forest area consisting of 450 acres of lush forests which can be explored via four trekking trails and over 800 acres of mangrove forests. Kampung Kuantan, known to be home to one of the largest colonies of fireflies in the world, is located close to the park (a mere 6kms away) and can be included as a side trip.


Taman  Negara
The expansive Taman Negara National Park is Malaysia’s largest natural reserve. Extending over an area of 4,343 km2, the park traverses three Malaysian states namely Pahang, Kelantan and Terrengganu.  Taman Negara encompasses one of the world’s oldest rainforest that plays host to numerous species of native plants and animals, like the Indochinese Tiger, the Sumatran rhinoceros, the Asian elephant and the Malayan sun bear amongst others. Other inhabitants of the park include 300 species of exotic birds, and an equal number of fish species that inhabit the park’s six rivers.  Visitors to the park can enjoy various recreational activities like jungle trekking, canopy walks, white–water rafting and bird-watching. Resorts located within the park offer a variety of accommodation options.
Gunung Gading National Park
The Gunung Gading National Park was created to conserve one of Malaysia’s best –known attractions, the mysterious, vile-odor emitting, Rafflesia bloom. This park also encompasses a verdant rainforest, four mountain peaks and  several river systems. A plank walk situated near the park headquarters provides visitors a chance to view the Rafflesia at close quarters, though the park wardens also offer guided expeditions deeper into the forest where more blooms are found. However, visitors are encouraged to follow the wardens’ directives so as not to disrupt the flowers’ natural habitat. 
The park which is essentially a nature reserve also hosts a variety of nature trails that traverse its varied ecosystems though these too require the accompaniment of official trekking guides. The Gunung Gading Park can be easily accessed from the city of Kuching as a day-trip option, though you can also elect to stay on longer at the various accommodation options available within the park.
Mount Kinabalu National Park
The Mount Kinabalu National Park is named after Mount Kinabalu, the tallest peak in Malaysia which rises to a height of approximately 13000 feet above lush rainforest terrain in Sabah. The national park which surrounds the peak was specially created to protect this pinnacle, which is surprisingly easy to climb and is known to attract more than 40,000 climbing enthusiasts every year. 
The Mount Kinabalu National Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000 and extends over 75400 hectares. The park  is home to hugely diverse ecosystems and contains nearly 326 species of birds, 6000 species of plants including 1000 species of orchids, 600 species of ferns and three types of  Rafflesia  the world’s largest and  smelliest blossom. Indigenous mammals like orangutan and Sumatran rhinoceros are also found at the park ,which can be  accessed via a two hour drive from Sabah’s capital city of Kota Kinabalu.
Penang National Park
Malaysia’s youngest and the world’s smallest national park, the Penang National Park is situated on the north western tip of Penang Island. The park which is easily navigable in a single day encompasses a varied landscape that includes eight pristine white sand beaches, a seasonal meromictic lake and dense mangrove forests.  The Penang National park is believed to be home to more than a hundred species of birds along with more than 140 species of mammals like dolphins, leaf monkeys, sea otters, turtles amongst others. Camping facilities are available at the park though prior permission needs to be obtained from the park headquarters.


 

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