May 25, 2011

The Ox-Bow Lake (Sg. Mati), Muar, Johore, Malaysia.

During May 30 2011 the trippers of the MNS Photogroup's trip to Muar, Pt Jawa and Sg Balang made an unscheduled stop-over in Sg. Mati (literal translation to the English language = dead river) at the kind invitation of Mrs. Yong, Science teacher of Pei Hwa Secondary School, Sg. Mati and water quality project leader.
The Ox-Bow Lake is the only one of it's kind in West Malaysia. The other one being in Kinabatangan, Sabah, East Malaysia. The former is a 9 km loop from end to end. Initial visual observation revealed a thriving existence of avian life which included the Purple Heron, Little Egrets, Lesser Whistling Duck, Moorhens, Common Iora etc etc. Melodious bird calls could be heard throughout our leisurely drive in convoy around the lake. 
There were some expressed concerns about a commercial development plan which has been submitted to the relevant authorities. Approval of the plan is expected at sometime in the near future. The issue is not so much about the development per se but about whether the commercial development will give due and careful consideration to ensure that the rich biodiversity surrounding the lake is preserved. 

I did some research on the origin and history of this Ox-Bow Lake and below is an excerpt from the Wikipedia. 

"Sungai Mati ('dead river' in Malay) is a small town in the state of Johor, Malaysia. It is situated between the towns of Tangkak and Muar.

Sungai Mati was named in such a way (dead river) is due to its nature of being an ox-bow lake. It formed or breakaway from main river ie Muar River. The "breakaway" cause by a massive flood in early 1900s (not traceable). Before the breakaway Sungai Mati was on the Muar river bank (northern bank) and was a river port.

Before the breakaway Sungai Mati was named 'li hong kang' 利丰港. It means a prosperous port. Until now, the Chinese community still using the same name, which carries both extreme meaning. In fact it was an inland/river port. Muar River and Pahang River in combination was a very important east-west crossing route for traditional river transport. The route called "Laluan Penarikan", which is documented and available in Malaysia secondary history text. The piece of land surrounded by the ex-bow lake and Muar River in combination is called Pulau Penarik.

In early 1970s, there were some remaining traces of the river port. There was landing of jetty at the end of Jalan Raja, the current location of bridge linking Sungai Mati and Pulau Penarik. On the current badminton and tennis court on the left of Jalan Raja, diagonally opposite incumbent Johor Menteri Besar residence, were old warehouses.

It was a recommended to rename the Sungai Mati into Sungai Penarik or Sungai Serom while retaining the Chinese version of it went unheard by the authorities. Hopefully with it integration into new Ledang District, the new authority may look into this seriously."

Below are photos of different parts of the Ox-Bow lake. Photo credits goes to Mr. Vincent Ng and Mr. Andrew Sia.

             Any excess water is 'drained' into the Muar River (at the background of pic below)

We will be closely monitoring the development in this prime nature enclave. Stay tuned for more updates. Cheers!

                 Behind the scene in the posting of the Ox-Bow Lake

                Group photo with the Ketua Kampung (Village Head) 

            Down to some serious discussion on the history of Sg. Mati aka Dead River

          Followed by discussion with students helping in the water quality project 

             Taking notes of the students' presentation

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