Belum-Temenggor (sometimes spelled as Belum-Temengor) is the largest continuous forest complex in Peninsular Malaysia. Specifically, it is located in the Malaysian state of Perak and crosses into Southern Thailand. Belum-Temenggor is divided into two sections. Belum is located up north right by the Malaysia-Thailand border while Temenggor is south of Belum. The Royal Belum State Park is entirely contained within the forest complex.
Belum-Temenggor is believed to have been in existence for over 130 million years making it one of the world’s oldest rainforests, older than both the Amazon and the Congo. In the heart of the forest lies the manmade lake of Tasik Temenggor, covering 15,200 Hectares which is dotted with hundreds of islands. The area has been identified as an Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA) Rank 1 under the Malaysian National Physical Plan and recognized by Birdlife International as an Important Bird Area. The Malaysian federal government has labelled the area as a whole as an essential water catchment area and part of Central Forest Spine and plans to protect the forest under the Malaysian National Forestry Act.
Despite that, between the two, only part of Belum Forest Reserve has been gazetted as a State Park while the rest are production forest open for development. Temenggor in particular is facing considerable deforestation due to logging. Environmental organizations such as Malaysian Nature Society and the World Wildlife Fund have been lobbying both the state and the federal government to gazette the area as a park. The state government of Perak, however, has resisted the effort, citing that logging provides the state with more than RM 30 million in revenue. Nevertheless, the state government gazetted 1,175 square kilometres, part of the Belum forest reserve as state park on May 3, 2007. There is a plan to convert natural forest to plantation forest along the East-West Highway.
Belum-Temenggor’s relatively untouched forest is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna including 14 of the world’s most threatened mammals including the Malayan tiger, Asiatic elephant, white handed gibbon, Malaysian sunbear and tapir. Other animals include seladang, wild boars, numerous species of deer, pythons and cobras.
Belum-Temenggor is home to over 300 avian species. It is the only existing forest where all 10 species of hornbill that inhabit Malaysia are found, namely the white-crowned hornbill, bushy-crested hornbill, wrinkled hornbill, wreathed hornbill, plain-pouched hornbill, black hornbill, Oriental pied hornbill, rhinoceros hornbill, great hornbill and helmeted hornbill. In the forest you can also find 3,000 species of flowering plants, including 3 species of Rafflesia, the world’s largest flower.
The Royal Belum State Park was established in the year 2000. In July 2003, the Belum forest was known as “Royal Belum”. Officially gazetted as the Royal Belum State Park on May 3rd 2007. Royal Belum State park has land mass of 117,500 hectares which cover approximately 40% of total Belum Temenggor Forest Reserves (300,000 hectares). Located in Northern Perak district, Malaysia, the area is surrounded by Thailand border on the northern side, East-West highway on the Southern side and state of Kelantan on the Eastern side. The area shares border with Bang Lang National Park, Thailand and Hala Bala Wildlife Sanctuary, Thailand. Southern part is called Temenggor Forest Reserve which is within Belum-Temenggor Valley area. The rainforest has somewhat different in density and has heavy logging activities which is considered red-zone by some naturalist.
Being 130 million year old, Royal Belum is among the oldest rain forest in the world. It has biodiversity more than any other areas. Some of the main attraction is Rafflesia flowers (species: Azlanii, Cantleyii and Kerrii), Hornbills (10 species), cooling and refreshing waterfalls (Ruok, Kejar, Mes, Semelian, Ko’oi, Belangan, Tiang, Papan, Gen and etc), Salt Licks (estimated at 60 sites altogether), among the accessible site are Sira / Jenut Papan, Sira Rambai, Sira Selantan etc), wildlife (elephant, tiger, bos gaur, deer, barking deer, mouse deer, snakes, insects, butterflies, fishes, tapir, wild boar, monkeys, squirrels etc).
A common aboriginal or Orang Asli found within Royal Belum is the Jahai tribe. Locations of their villages are Sungai Tiang, Sungai Kejar (left, right and upper river) and remote locations inside the rain forest. Their main activities is hunting, fishing and agriculture. Modern structure in village such Sungai Tiang has been built by the government to uplift their living standard with proper electricity, water and education.
Royal Belum is maintain and look after by Perak State Park Authority (PTNP) which is also responsible in regulating and monitoring all activities. PTNP office is located in Gerik town, Perak. An entry permit for every visitor into Royal Belum is a must and is only issued by PTNP within advanced time limits. Locals would need 24 hours for permit approval and foreigners would require 4-5 days in advance (with passport copy) for permit application.
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