Jungle trekking in Malaysia's Taman Negara
Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com
March 21, 2006
Despite these losses, Malaysia has some spectacular protected areas including Taman Negara — Malaysia's largest and best-known national park. Spanning 4343 square kilometers, the park is home to some of southeast Asia's rarest creatures including tigers, the Malaysian tapir, forest elephants, and the Sumatran rhino.
Scientists believe that the rainforest of Taman Negara may be the oldest on Earth. Untouched by glaciers during recent ice ages, Taman Negara forests have remained largely the same for some 130 million years — for comparison, the rainforests of the Amazon as we would recognize them are probably less than ten million years old. Their stability means these forests are some of the most diverse on the planet. More than 350 species of birds, 14000 species of plants, and 210 species of mammals can be found in the forests of Taman Negara.
Frog lunch for a snake in Taman Negara. Photo by R. Butler
Tours to Taman Negara are easily arranged out of Kuala Lumpur or through Internet operators and there are a variety of lodging options near the park's entrance. Once in the park, you can hike on your own or make arrangements with local guides, who may help you see some of the forest's more elusive creatures. Remember that hiring a local guide brings direct benefits to the community that lives around the Taman Negara. Conservation works best when it proves economically viable for local people.
Photo tour of Taman Negara