Everyone knows about the legendary Amazon Jungle. But did you know, there is a jungle here in Malaysia that’s older than the Amazon? Can you guess where? Here’s a HUGE hint… it’s not Borneo!
HUH?!? If not Borneo, then where? Most of the time, when Malaysians think of rainforest, our brains will automatically think of Borneo or Taman Negara. But this 130 million year-old rainforest in the Semenanjung side is the Belum-Temengor rainforest in Perak. Yeah, this rainforest is as old as dinosaurs themselves, dating back to the Jurassic Period (201-145 million years ago)…
Belum-Temengor is home to a few of the 250 Malayan tigers left in the world
In the early days of CILISOS, we wrote an article on the dwindling number of tigers. Today we wish we had good news to report about their numbers, but despite giving a chilling visual possibility of what happens if there were no more tigers left…
We’re sad to say that there are only 250 Malayan tigers left in the WORLD. Out of 250, about 60 Malayan tigers were spotted at Belum-Temenggor, according to Ahmad Khalif bin Tan Sri Mustapha Kamal, Pulau Banding Foundation (PBF) board member. More on PBF later, but first, let’s talk about these depressing animal numbers.
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) classifies Malayan Tigers as an ‘Endangered’ species, that are only found in the Malay Peninsula and the southern tip of Thailand. You would think this ‘exclusivity’ would make people treasure the species even more (not to mention it is the symbol of our national football team!) but NOOO. Development has destroyed much of its habitat, forcing tigers closer to human areas. Converting forests into agriculture or commercial plantations results in frequent encounters between tigers and livestock. In retaliation, tigers are often killed by authorities or angry villagers. 😥
If that’s not heartbreaking enough, how bout this… the Sumatran Rhino is the most endangered of all rhinoceros species – only 100 of them still survive in very small, separated populations. Unfortunately, if you want to see a Sumatran rhino, you would have to fly to Indonesia. The species was declared EXTINCT in Malaysia in 2015!
“The Sumatran Rhino hasn’t been sighted (at Belum-Temengor) in seven years. If we see even one rhino it would give us hope.” – Ahmad Khalif at a press conference
Other less kesian, but still threatened species found there are the Malayan sun bear, white-handed gibbon, Asiatic elephant and Malayan tapir. It’s also home to the super cute Bulbasaur…
Kidding, kidding. There’s no Pokemons living in the rainforest, but the people at the Pulau Banding Foundation have an awesome sense of humour. Be patient, we’ll get to them in a bit.
Unfortunately, only a smaller piece of the rainforest is protected
Belum-Temengor Rainforest is so huge, it is divided into two sections:
- Royal Belum State Park (up north of the Msia-Thai border)
- Temengor Forest Reserve (south of the rainforest)
The rainforest is classified a state park, not an official National Park, that means the State Government is allowed to use for its own purposes (including development). As the second largest rainforest in the country at 300,000 hectares (3,000km²), the State Government is interested in protecting it, although only 1,175km² (less than half) of it is protected. That portion is the Royal Belum State Park.
The larger chunk of the Belum rainforest that belum get protection yet is the Temengor Forest Reserve. This unprotected area remains open for abuse and it’s facing a deforestation problem coz of massive logging. There are efforts to get the government to officially declare the rainforest as a National Park, though there’s nothing solid yet.
Borneo is so popular that it gets all the local as well as international attention it needs, however Belum-Temengor needs some TLC as well. It has the potential to a good eco-tourism destinations, if managed well. Hopefully in time, people will come to appreciate it.
This foundation wants you to use your BRainS to conserve the rainforest
Ahhh finally we get to the part where we introduce the Pulau Banding Foundation (PBF). These guys are an NGO that was created in 2007 specifically to sustain the Belum-Temengor Rainforest’s landscape, environment and communities. It’s CEO is Dato Dr. Abdul Rashid bin Abdul Malik (pic above) who was also at the press conference on 1st August.
So the whole purpose of the press conference today was for PBF to invite people to register for their first ever Belum Rainforest Summit 2016 (BRainS). And also to create awareness for their initiative using #GetInvolved. At the summit, participants will be cracking their brains and come up with a brilliant action plan to save the rainforest. Here are the details:
When: 17-22 October 2016
Where: Belum Rainforest Resort, Pulau Banding, Gerik, Perak
What: The summit will bring policy makers, scientists, forest administrators and such together from around the world, to brainstorm the best action plan to conserve all tropical rainforest continents. This action plan will then be carried out to make a difference in Belum-Temengor (as well as other rainforests globally).
Price: RM250 (presenter), RM500 (general), RM120 (student)
At the same time, they have a Youth initiative held from 20-22 October 2016 at the Belum Adventure Camp.
PBS sees this opportunity for BRainS to make little, but useful and achievable changes to conserve our rainforests. The important thing is to make something HAPPEN whether big or small, instead of being another summit with all talk and no action. Sometimes, small actions can make a big difference. If you make the world better in one way, you make the world better in every way, don’t you think?