Apr 23, 2012

4D/3N Journey of Royal Belum & Belum Temenggor Forest Complex

Royal Belum State Park - Royal Forest

In the northernmost corner of Perak, 117,500 ha were declared as the Royal Belum State Park by Duli Yang Maha Mulia (DYMM) Sultan Azlan Shah, Sultan of Perak on 31 July 2003. This park is managed by the Perak State Parks Corporation.

The Royal Belum is composed mainly of pristine tropical rainforest, with many river systems, and small grassland areas, some abandoned agricultural plots, and Tasik Temengor, a large man-made lake. Forests found here include lowland dipterocarp, hill dipterocarp and lower montane types with a distinctive northern element as the area borders Thailand. The Royal Belum is part of the larger Belum-Temengor forest landscape, one of the largest blocks of forest in Peninsular Malaysia.

Wildlife surveys show that Royal Belum is an important habitat for large mammals like the seladang (Bos gaurus), Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) and Malayan tiger (Panthera tigris jacksoni). The area is also home to the endangered Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis), one of very few left in Peninsular Malaysia. Belum-Temengor is the only forest in Malaysia with all 10 species of Malaysian hornbills including large flocks of the plain-pouched hornbill (Rhyticeros subruficollis).

The Belum area’s natural attractions and rich flora and fauna ensured that it was identified in the National Ecotourism Plan as a priority site for ecotourism.

The State Government‘s efforts to gazette, plan and manage Royal Belum is supported by WWF-Malaysia through our “Strengthening the Protected Areas System of Peninsular Malaysia” project which provides technical support to the Park. Additional work in the area is also carried through the Honda Rhino project to conserve endangered Sumatran Rhinoceros. Part of this project is to develop a tourism management plan which forms part of Royal Belum’s management plan. This will help guide the Perak State Parks Corporation in planning and implementing development projects in Royal Belum.    Ref: WWF


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-Temengor is divided into two sections. Belum is located at up north right by the Malaysia-Thailand border while Temengor is south of Belum. The Royal Belum State Park is entirely contained within the forest complex.
Belum-Temengor 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..[1] 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 gazette 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 world's most threatened mammals including the Malaysian tiger, Asiatic elephant, Sumatran rhinoceros, white handed gibbon, Malaysian sunbear and tapir. Other animals that also roam freely include seladang, wild boars, numerous species of deer, pythons and cobras. Belum Temengor is ideal for bird watcher with over 300 avian species including the hornbill. It is the only existing forest where you can spot all 10 species of hornbill that inhabit Malaysia consisting of 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. Ref: Wikipedia

Our journey started in the early hours of Apr 13th, the vehicle from the Science Academy the sponsor of this trip picked the four of us from our respective homes. With all on board we traveled north ward heading for the Rawang R & R where we had our breakfast of toasted bread, half boiled eggs and coffee. We continued our journey on the north-south highway by-passing smaller townships and reached the outskirts of Ipoh, the capital of the state of Perak. From there we headed in the direction of Grik which was to be our last major stop. From here we continued north for Banding. We reached our destination around 3 pm and checked into the hotel which we will stay for the next three nights - the Banding Lakeside Inn. 

To be continued..............

Sharing some pictures captured during our stay there.

Scenery of Temenggor Lake 

                                The Banding Bridge as seen from our hotel

                                Part of the gigantic Temenggor Lake

                              Another scene of Temenggor lake

                              Human & wildlife scenes around the lake....

            Orang Asli or indigenous people washing clothes by the lake

              Fish are still caught using the ring net method or hook and line

                                A young Negrito lass fishing by the lake

Made some new friends - the Negritos of Royal Belum. The burly guy at right  is the Deputy Chief of the village. The other two are blood bros.


            Traditional Orang Asli house made of coconut leaves and bamboo

                                The Common Map Butterfly at the salt lick

                                Other butterfly species

                    Cattle Egrets perched on a branch of a dead tree

                                The other three Cattle Egrets

                                  An Osprey out early to hunt

                                 Also hunting is a Lesser Fish Eagle

               Another Lesser Fish Eagle drying itself in the morning sun

                     Colorful Moths found outside the motel we stayed

                                Houses of another tribe of Orang Asli

Apr 10, 2012

Hooded Pitta ( Pitta sordida ) 16.5 - 19 cm

Pittas are one of the more popular species which birders and bird watchers would travel miles to try and get a sight of or to photograph them. In some cases the 'chase' was successful whilst others return empty handed. That's the name of the game. Nature is so unpredictable. 

I had the good fortune of meeting the Hooded Pitta (a rare bird) on my very first search. Here are a few pics to share..  

Apr 6, 2012

Black-naped Monarch, Male (Hypothymis azurea ) 16-17 cm

The saying surprises usually come in nice packages fell true when during this half day birding trip one lifer after another presented themselves. This 3rd Lifer of the day was a Black-naped Monarch! A very uncommon bird it is extremely difficult to see this tiny bird in the wild. Would have loved to also get the female bird. Well maybe next time.

Red-naped Trogon (Harpactus kasumba) 31-34 cm

Amongst the rare or uncommon bird species it have become every birders' wish list to see and photograph Trogons in the wild. It was a very lucky day when this specie made it's appearance. It stayed in the location for a good half hour much to the delight of the small group of birders present. 

Buff-necked Woodpecker (Buff-necked Woodpecker, Male ( Meiglyptes tukki ) 21 cm

An uncommon woodpecker. I was lucky to 'stumble' upon it after following the familiar pecking sounds resonating loudly from a hollow tree trunk. I found myself well rewarded with this rare find. And a Lifer to boot!

Apr 4, 2012

Orange-bellied Leafbird ( Chloropsis hardwickii ) 18 - 20 cm

The most colorful of the 5 species of Leafbirds found in Malaysian forests and which prefer a montane environment. The male adult have a bright orange plumage for it's belly which also became it's namesake. 

Apr 3, 2012

Silver-eared Mesia ( Leiotrix argebtauris ) 16-18 cm

This is one specie which is commonly found in Frasers Hill and some montane environment. The colors of it's plumage are so vibrant it never fails to attract the attention of birders and bird watchers. Usaually seen in flocks of between 6 to as many as 20 birds or more. 

Black-backed forktail ( Enicurus immaculattus ) 20-23 cm

Like all species in the Forktail family this one have the same skittish behavior, scurrying away to a safe distance at the slightest sight of human approach. It takes great patience to 'hunt down' this specie. Being at the spot where they are seen and keeping out of sight until an opportunity presence itself is the best bet to get a good picture. This one is a record shot which will be improved on the next encounter. 

Paddyfield Pipit ( Anthus rufulus ) 15-16 cm

Paddyfield Pipits are ground feeders. Usually seen in pairs they forage for grubs and grass seeds on the ground. Preferring to 'stroll' it is able to fly from one location to another in search of fresh food source.

Here is a picture of one in an 'not so natural' perch, on a chain fence. The bokeh was good so I decided to feature the pic here.

Common Flame-backed Woodpecker ( Dinopiam javanense ) 28-30 cm

The pair of woodpeckers suddenly made their appearance out of no where and were perched on the branch of a low level tree. They were in deep focus pecking the tree branch for grubs etc and did not take notice of my approach. After a few minutes the male flew towards a dried up drain and stayed  by the river bask. Very unusual landing as Woodpeckers very come down to ground level. The female flew to a near by tree and continued to forage.

                                         The Male

                                        The Female

Black-headed Munia ( Lanchura malacca ) 11 cm

As I walked down the tared road a flock of tiny birds flew up from the tall grass by the road side. It was a flock of some 30 Black-headed Munias. They scurried away as they noticed me approaching. These three stop and perched on top of a coconut tree branch long enough for me to take a record shot. Cute little fellas!

Spectacled Spierhunter ( Arachnothera flavigaster ) 21 - 22 cm

This Juvenile was following the parent hoping to be fed the nectar which the adult picked from the African tulips flowering high up in the tree's canopy. Here it is pictured quivering as it awaits for more food. 

Black-bellied Malkoha ( Phaenicophaeus diardi ) 37 cm

This Male bird was keeping a watchful eye over the nesting Female which was in a nest nearby. It perched very quietly in the shadows of the foliage.  

Apr 2, 2012

Olive-winged Bul Bul ( Pycnonotus plumosus ) 20 cm

Although considered a fairly common specie ain the Bul Bul family it's plumage is quite distinct from the others. I had a recent opportunity to get close and recorded some clear close-ups which I append below.