Taman Negara National Park, Malaysia
Taman Negara National Park is located in the Malay Peninsula, approximately 200 kilometers (125 miles) northeast of Kuala Lumpur, and includes parts of the states of Pahang, Kelantan, and Terengganu. The name Taman Negara itself means national park in Malay. The park occupies an area of approximately 4,300 km2 of what are predominantly tropical deciduous forests. These forests are rare primary forests of great age and beauty and are believed to be 130 million years old.
What is now a national park was originally known as Gunung Tahan Game Reserve in 1925. It was not until 1939 that it was renamed by Britain and given it the national park status and national park name of King George V. At that time, the Malaysian States were under the jurisdiction of the Sultans, as well as the British High Commissioner, and three separate texts were therefore required. These were the Taman Negara (Kelantan) Law of 1938, the Taman Negara (Pahang) Law of 1939 and the Taman Negara (Terengganu) Law of 1939. These laws remained the protective power of the region. of the park until 1957, when Malaysia gained independence and came under the rule of King Yang Dipertuan Agong.
The park was then placed under the tutelage of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, as well as the Department of Wildlife and National Parks of Peninsular Malaysia. The area remained under this specification until 1984, when it was awarded the title of ASEAN Heritage Park. The park was also submitted for review by the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014.
The area that makes up the park measures approximately 434,351 hectares, which is equivalent to 4,343 square kilometers, or 1,677 square miles. There are three states included in this region. Pahang occupies a little more than half, or 57%, Kelantan a little more than 1000 km2, or 24% of the park, and finally the state of Terrengganu represents the remaining 18%, measuring 853 km2.
The elevation in the park is mostly between 80m and 1,500m above sea level, although the Tahan Range (which only accounts for about 1% of the park’s mass) reaches around 2,000. meters above sea level. Gunung Tahan Peak rises to 2,187 m and is the highest mountain in Peninsular Malaysia.
The land on which the park sits dates back 130 million years and is mostly made up of primary tropical forests. These trees and forests are extremely old, allowing for an enormous amount of biodiversity. The great age and depth of these forests reinforce the need to protect the region.
Most of the unforested areas of the park are made up of various rock formations. This includes the Tahan Range, a Jurassic-Cretaceous formation that also has a high percentage of limestone. The central belt of the region also contains caves and passages of schist and limestone, including Gua Telinga, Gua Daun Menari and Gua Peningat. Gua Peningat sits 730 meters above sea level, making it the highest cave in Peninsular Malaysia
Three major rivers flow through Taman Negara, namely the Singai Lebir, the Sungai Terengganu and the Sungai Tembeling. These cross all three states and are accompanied by a large number of small rivers and waterways. This abundance of rivers is part of the reason the area is so lush and full of vegetation and life.
Taman Negara National Park is one of the most biodiverse areas on the planet. It is teeming with a wide variety of plant species and lush old growth forests. According to records, over 3,000 different plant species are found within the park boundaries. A large portion of these plants are ferns, which thrive in humid and warm environments. There are over 246 different species of ferns in this region, which belong to 26 different families. Ginger is also found in this area.
Pitcher plants and palm trees are also in abundance here, some of which are endemic to the region. About 30% of all palm species in Malaysia are found in Taman Negara National Park. The humid and lush climate is also excellent for flowering plants, such as jewel orchids and the giant parasitic flowering plant Rafflesia cantleyi. Fruits are also abundant here, and there are over 45 species of fruit trees grown in the park. Plus, wild grapes grow naturally, including a species endemic to the region.
Taman Negara is home to many species, including very rare mammals.
Over 150 different species of mammals inhabit the park. One of the rarest and most distinct of these mammals is the Malaysian tiger. This tiger is a subspecies found only on Peninsular Malaysia and the southernmost parts of Thailand. In 2015, it was listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List, with a declining population. At the time of the assessment, in 2014, it was believed that there were between 80 and 120 mature Malaysian tigers in the world. Protected parks help ensure that natural habitats remain for these animals, but their populations are still under serious threat.
Along with the Malaysian tiger, other cats present in the park include the flathead cat (endangered), the clouded leopard (a vulnerable species that also has a declining population trend), the leopard cat. and the golden Asian cat.
Another important mammal in the region is the Asian elephant. Unlike their African cousins, Asian elephants tend to like more forested protected areas like those in the Taman Negara region. This smallest of the elephants is unfortunately decreasing in population and holds an endangered title on the IUCN list, as of 2020.
Other grazing mammals in the park include the Malayan gaur (vulnerable according to the IUCN), wild boar, Malayan tapir, Sambar deer, barking deer and mouse deer, and serow. Small mammals are more important in this lush landscape than many of their larger cousins, although the rare sun bear can be found here.
Other smaller mammals in the park include the vulnerable binturong, or bear cat; the yellow-throated marten (also known as the mengkira) and the Asian wild dog. Various monkeys and primates have made their home in the area as well, thriving in thick forests and mountain ranges. These include the Siamang, the White-handed Gibbon, the Dusky Leaf Monkey, and the Banded Leaf Monkey.
With the abundance of limestone caves and cave passages in the park as well, bats and rodents are predominant. Over 80 different species of bats live in Taman Negara, and around 30 different rodents. Some of the more notable species include the white-toothed shrew, smoked flying squirrel, and oriental small-clawed otter.
In addition to the diversity of mammals, some 479 different species of birds live in Taman Negara. This number does not include migratory birds, which can be found in the area, but do not reside there. This high number of bird species is the reason why the park has been designated as one of the Important Bird Areas (IBA) in Malaysia.
Notable native bird species include the white-bellied eagle, as well as a number of other hawks and eagles; several types of pheasants such as the ridgeless fireback pheasant; the masked finfoot; prinia hill; crested argus; cuckoo malay falcon; and various types of hornbills. The bird population in the park is extremely diverse.
Reptiles And Amphibians
Over 57 species of amphibians and some 67 species of snakes also reside in Taman Negara National Park. These include species such as the spotted keel snake, jasper cat snake as well as blunt-headed slug snake, Malayan slug snake, rainbow snake, rare wolf snake. , the red mountain keel and the greylag viper. Notable reptiles included the green crested lizard, the brown East Indian mabuya, and the slender-toed mottled gecko.
Turtles and turtles include the printed turtle, the Malayan flat-shelled turtle, and the Asian brown turtle. Frogs, especially tree frogs, also thrive in this type of humid forest area, and several notable species live in the area, such as the Bongao tree frog, spotted litter frog, and narrow-mouthed frog.
In addition to these animals, there are over 50 different species of freshwater fish that can be found in the rivers and streams of the park, including the mahseer, jungle perch, and sultan fish.