Birds remain the big attraction, although mammals and reptiles like silvered leaf monkeys, long-tailed macaques, squirrels, smooth otters and monitor lizards are regularly observed. Also recorded are sightings of more elusive mammals like the leopard cat, common palm civet and scaly anteater.
It is home to one of the most important wetland sanctuaries and also the unique phenomenon of synchronous flashings of fireflies.
Kuala Selangor Nature Park
45000 Kuala Selangor
Tel: 03 889 2294
About 70 km from Kuala Lumpur via Federal Highway to Kuala Selangor at mouth of Selangor River Nature park at base of Bukit Melawati. Look out for signs to the park just before Kuala Selangor town. Alternatively, a more scenic route via Batang Berjuntai road B33, which takes you right pass Kg. Kuantan’s “firefly” jetty.
THE PARK AT A GLANCE
Size: 300 hectares
Activities: Migratory water birds, natural wetland flora and fauna, nature trails, wildlife observation, history of surrounding area.
Accommodation : Comfortable basic chalets, hostel, camping sites.
Permits/Access: No permits required. Entrance fee is applicable.
Flora and fauna: it is home to unique and interesting species such as a variety of birds, insects, spiders, mollusks, crabs, fishes, reptiles and mammals. Some of the special mammalians are silvered leaf monkey, ‘Presbytis cristata’, long-tailed macaque ‘Macaca fascicularis’, short-tailed ‘mongoose Herpestes brachyurus’, smooth-coated otter ‘Lutra perspicillata’, mudskippers, king crab and leopard cat.
Protected by their chain mail armour, the notoriously fierce 18th century seafaring Bugis warriors once manned the ramparts and parapets of the Altingsburg fort, at the summit of Bukit Melawati, Kuala Selangor. Their mission was to guard the estuary of the Selangor River from invaders of their newly established fiefdom.
The Selangor Sultanate, founded at Kuala Selangor in 1766 by the legendary Bugis ruler Raja Lumu, still endures. The ancient cannons of the Altingsburg fort still stretch seawards across the thriving mangrove habitats of the Kuala Selangor Nature Park, as if protecting this wetland sanctuary from invasion by 21st century bulldozers and dump trucks.
The Kuala Selangor Nature Park originally formed part of a rich mangrove ecosystem that spread along the coastline around the Selangor river estuary. During the 1960’s, the park was tagged for redevelopment and a levee was constructed through the mangrove forest to drain the swampland habitats and mitigate flooding of the Kuala Selangor village. Subsequently, extensive logging occurred throughout the area and secondary growth vegetation like Acacia trees, creepers, mangrove ferns and strangling figs overran the remnants of the mangrove forests on the inland side of the levee.
Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) recognized the natural heritage value of the mangrove and wetland ecosystems and submitted a proposal to the Selangor State Government to jointly develop the area as a conservation site, under a unique collaborative agreement.
The Selangor State Government accepted the proposal and in 1987 about 300 hectares of mangrove and secondary forest habitats officially opened as the Kuala Selangor Nature Park.
Within the secondary forest area MNS volunteers created a sprawling wetland ecosystem that is now an important feeding and roosting habitat for about 160 species of resident and migratory birds. Built around the perimeter of the lake are three elevated observation hides and three ground-level viewing shelters. Sightings of large groups of brahminy kites and the White-bellied sea-eagle are common from these vantage points. Migratory raptors known to visit the area include black bazas, crested honey buzzards, Chinese goshawks, Japanese sparrow hawks, ospreys and migrant spotted eagles.
During the annual Trans equatorial migration between September and April, it is estimated up to 100,000 northern hemisphere water birds who navigate the East Asian flyway will stop over at Kuala Selangor. Representing some 30 species many of these visitors rest and feed around the park’s lake and along the estuary mudflats for only a few days, before continuing south to roost in Indonesia and Australia. Other birds will enjoy their entire winter vacation among the area’s lush wetland habitat.
Common migratory species include redshanks, sandpipers, shrikes, godwits, bee-eaters, plovers, knots, herons, kingfishers and curlews. Sightings of rare species like the Asian dowitcher, spoonbilled sandpipers and nordmann’s greenshank have also been recorded.
Boardwalks through the mangrove ecosystem provide comfortable platform to view the mangrove flora and fauna to unobtrusively observe mangrove wildlife, Iike crabs, crustaceans, worms, snails, mudskippers and molluscs. Often seen searching for delicacies among the mangrove vegetation are birds, monkeys and monitor lizards.
One boardwalk leads directly into the estuary mudfiats, overlooking rich cockle and fishing grounds in the Straits of Malacca. A continuing supply of nutrients from a healthy mangrove ecosystem along the coastline is inextricably linked to the long-term survival of these important commercial habitats.
In 1998, MNS and Zoo Negara established a collaborative captive-breeding project at the park to save the critically endangered Milky Stork from extinction. The project is part of the MilkyStork Breeding Program first established at Zoo Negara in 1987. Working with the zoo, MNS breed the stork at the nature park’s specially built aviary for eventual release back into its natural wetland habitat.
There are 4 nature trails that allow visitors to stroll in the forest, and study the flora there. Visitors will see varieties of fungi, ferns, palm, and creepers.
There are 2 artificial lakes that get their supply of brackish water from the Selangor River. The water level is controlled by sluice gates. A few hideouts are strategically located along the edges of the open swamps and elevated hideouts offer shade and camouflage for longer periods of watching the water birds and waders. These facilities provide the opportunity to learn patience and silence necessary for the joy of bird watching.
Night lights or fireflies
The Selangor River offers the opportunity to see millions of tiny fireflies at night. This is a beautiful spectacle when millions of resident fireflies flash synchronously. The best time is between dusk and midnight and it is advisable to avoid the full moon.
A local village cooperative provides a regular boat service from Kg. Kuantan jetty and visitors are slowly rowed up river for about 1 km before returning. After your evening meal, this is a heavenly way to end the day.
Melawati Hill is the highest area in the state of Kuala Selangor and is the site of the 200-year-old Fort Altingsburg. You can enjoy the panoramic view of the Straits of Malacca and the surrounding areas where the Dutch surveyed the countryside before capturing it in 1794.