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Kuala Selangor Nature Park

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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).

Kuala Selangor Nature Park overview

Panoramic view of Kuala Selangor Nature Park. The man-made lake which has been turned into a heronry sits in the middle of the park; further out towards the sea in the distance, is the mangrove forest proper. Click image for larger view.

Kuala Selangor Nature Park panorama

Another view of KSNP, the Selangor coastline, and the straits of Malacca, from Bukit Melawati, which sits immediately behind the park.

Bukit Melawati

Bukit Melawati (Melawati Hill), as seen from within Kuala Selangor Nature Park itself.

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!)

KSNP headquarters

The Kuala Selangor Nature Park headquarters.

Kuala Selangor Nature Park trail

The start of the trail system in Kuala Selangor Nature Park. This stretch is flanked by secondary forest with many fig/banyan trees.

KSNP secondary undergrowth

This is how it looks along the sides of the footpath. The undergrowth is dominated by ferns.

KSNP bridge view

View from the bridge across the waterway which is joined to the man-made lake in the middle of KSNP. Once you get on this bridge, you leave most of the mosquitoes behind and proceed to the main trail that encircles the man-made lake in the middle.

KSNP map

The overview map of Kuala Selangor Nature Park. Click image for larger view.

KSNP aquarium

The small public aquarium located just outside the KSNP entrance. Entry is not free, as this aquarium is a separate entity from KSNP.  There is a small aviary and some freshwater fish on display here.

KSNP main trail

Walking the main trail of KSNP. This circular loop can be completed in about an hour.

Kuala Selangor mangroves

In the KSNP mangrove forest, a tree planting exercise was being carried out in the patch here. Mangrove trees are generally fast growing and colonization is easy.

Pneumatophore roots

The exposed pneumatophore “knee” roots of the mangrove trees (Bruguiera spp) enable them to breath outside of the mud and helps anchor them.

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.

KSNP lake during dry season

During dry seasons, the water level in the man-made lake can drop to near zero, exposing its bed. Migratory birds are nowhere to be seen when it’s as bone dry as this.

Concrete walkway at KSNP

The concrete walkway at KSNP. The side wooden railing has obviously seen better days.

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.

Mangrove forest

A typical sight in the mangrove forest or “mangal” at low tide. The mud here is very deep, so getting stuck here would not be pleasant at all!

Mangrove forest understorey

A peek into the mangrove forest from the boardwalk reveals the bare understorey of the forest.

Mud lobster mound

Mud lobster mound, which is caused by the burrowing of mud lobsters (Thalassina spp). These mounds can reach more than a meter high and are often used by other creatures to take shelter within (snakes, crabs, ants, centipedes, etc).

Fiddler crabs

Fiddler crabs (Uca spp) at KSNP. The male with the larger claw is trying to impress the female.

Mudskipper

A Giant Mudskipper (Periophthalmodon schlosseri), resting in the water. Look closer and you will see mosquitoes feeding on the mudskipper! KSNP is a great place to observe mangrove flora and fauna.

Bruguiera fruit

The fruit of a Bruguiera species. Most mangrove trees have their fruit shaped like this, so that it drops straight down into the mud.

Grey Heron

A Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea), photographed at Kuala Selangor Nature Park. These birds are native to Europe and have stopped by at KSNP for their winter migration. KSNP is classified as an IBA (Important Bird Area).

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.

Silvered leaf monkey

A silvered leaf monkey photographed at Bukit Melawati. Troops of these monkeys roam the hill, and have become tame after being fed by visitors everyday. Being vegetarian, they are generally not aggressive (unlike macaques), unless they feel threatened.

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.

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