The Kuala Selangor Nature Park (or KSNP for short) is one of the best conserved tracts of coastal mangrove swamp forest on the West Coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Its local name is Taman Alam Kuala Selangor (Taman Alam means “nature park”). Although it is only 240 hectares in size, there is no doubt it plays a big role in protecting a strip of coastal mangrove, while serving as a nature education center. Besides the KSNP, the other significant tract of conservation area of mangrove forest is the Matang Mangrove Forest in Perak which is over 40,000 hectares in size. Kuala means “estuary” or “river mouth” and the KSNP takes its name after that river – Selangor river.
Kuala Selangor Nature Park lies just off the town of Kuala Selangor, a town on the coast of Selangor. It sits at the foot of Bukit Melawati, a historical hill with the remains of an old fort overlooking the mouth of the Selangor River, the town, and the mangrove mudflats below. The nature park is managed by the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS).
Some time back, I visited the KSNP and stayed there a night. So, what’s interesting there? From an ecosystem standpoint, the park is partially secondary forest, part artificial lake/pond (where a heronry has been established), and part mangrove (along the coastline). A wide track encircles the artificial lake going across a man-made bund, but before that, it crosses the secondary forest. The secondary forest is also separated from the lake by another bund and ditch. This secondary forest looks poor in tree species and contains a lot of fig trees. It is also home to many long-tailed macaques, and mosquitoes by the legion (so strong insect repellent is a must if you don’t want to be feasted on alive!)
However, once you are out of the secondary forest, you emerge onto more open terrain walking across the man-made bund, where the number of mosquitoes drops dramatically, and somewhere around the middle of the track, overlooking the lake, is a concrete lookout tower. From here, you can spend a whole day observing the various species of herons and storks that make the lake their home; in fact the lake was created to attract them to come. A threatened species of stork, the Milky Stork, roosts at the lake. Eagles are also frequently spotted in the skies above.
A concrete boardwalk leads out to the open sea, passing through the mangrove forest proper, where many kinds of mangrove trees with their stilt roots like Rhizophora apiculata, Rhizophora mucronata, Sonneratia and Bruguiera species dominate. This forest has a main canopy of about 15-20 meters in height.
A little further up the Selangor river is a village called Kampung (Village)Belimbing, and there, you’ll arrive at the famous firefly park of Kuala Selangor. This area is famous for its many fireflies that put on a spectacle of light after dusk; in fact, the fireflies are the main attraction for many tourists to visit Kuala Selangor. The Berembang trees that line the riverbank here provide a suitable habitat for these fireflies; their preservation and general conservation of the brackish riverine forest here is important to maintain the firefly population from extinction.
There is a species of monkey that lives in the vicinity of KSNP; the silvered leaved langur/monkey, although they mainly roam the hill of Bukit Melawati in search of handouts from visitors. Their babies are a distinctive bright orange in color, which is very different from their drab adult coloration. In Peninsular Malaysia, silvered leaf monkeys are only found on the West Coast, so it is quite rare compared to the dusky leaf monkey, which is found almost everywhere.
The mangrove swamp in Kuala Selangor Nature Park is a great place to get a quick education on what mangrove forests really are, and to observe the myriad life forms that call that forest their home. With most mangrove swamps under threat due to having next to no protection status, the KSNP fulfils an important role in the conservation of this valuable ecosystem.