Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Belum Rainforest - Lake Temenggor, Perak, Malaysia

Banding Island Police Station and a boathouse

After the Second World War until late 1980s, the entire Belum Forest and Lake Temenggor was considered to be unsafe due to active communist movement around the area. The construction of the East-West Highway and Temenggor Dam were among the ways how government hampered the Communist activities. Prior to 1975, there was no such thing as Lake Temenggor, Banding Island and the other islands around Lake Temenggor. 
Temenggor Hydro Electric Dam
Remnants of tree-trunks in the lake 
Upon the completion of Temenggor Hydro Electric Dam in 1977 and within a year, the entire valley was flooded creating 80 islands. Beneath this man-made lake, lies the logging equipment of the loggers who were taken by surprise of the rising water level, the entire village of Kampong Temenggor, Padang Cermin the training ground of the anti-Japanese resistance Force 136 and indigenous tribes ancestral burial grounds. About 400 villagers were airlifted and relocated in villages at the edge of the lake but the stranded animals were spared due to fear of communist attacks at that time.  

This 15,200 hectares man made lake offers a tranquil beauty with diverse flora and fauna. The jade green lake is the home of freshwater fish such as Toman, Sebarau, Tenggalan, Baung and even the renowned Kelah, thus, creating a heaven for fishing enthusiast. The Belum Rainforest is said to be over 130 million years making it much older than the Amazon rainforest. Covering an area of 290,000 hectares, it stretches for another 117,500 hectares of impenetrable forest along Malaysia-Thailand boarder. 

Proud of its natural vegetation and wildlife, the forest is still populated by tigers, tapirs, elephants, rhinos, vipers, black panthers, reptiles, small animals and about 200 species of birds. There are tigers roaming in Belum Forest and elephants wandering along the highway at night. We skipped the night trekking in search for tigers...we don't want to meet them...so we are happy just to see their wet footprints and scratches on the trees the next morning. For two nights we went out to track the elephants but it was hopeless because we couldn't stay up late...we returned at 11pm and they came out at 1am...we will try harder next time. The winding road of the East-West highway is well sign posted to warn drivers that the elephants may be crossing at anytime….especially at night.
Army in charge of protecting Royal Belum Rainforest
The Police Boat in Banding Island
Matching green lake and forest
Small island on Lake Temenggor
Rocky island in Lake Temenggor
Another small island

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