T a m a n N e g a r a. Two words in Bahasa Melayu, the national language of Malaysia, which conjure images of giant green garden filled with exotic flowers and creatures. The word 'taman' means both 'park' and 'garden' in malay while 'negara' means 'nations'-together they translate simply as 'National Park'.
Even though there are certainly many other national parks elsewhere in Malaysia, Taman Negara remains the patriarch of them all, with the pedigree to back it up.
T a m a n N e g a r a is indeed one the oldest rainforests in the entire world, estimated at 130 million years old. The abundance and diversity of nature is phenomenal in Taman Negara, one of the world's most complex and rich ecosystems. A veritable treasure of the planet.
Enjoy your explorations and protect our Mother Nature's Treasure!
Laili Basir (Founder)
Taman Negara is the oldest protected area in the country. Originated from the legislation of Pahang in 1925, which set aside 130,000ha of land designated as Gunung Tahan Game Reserve. Then declared as King George V National Park in 1938 by the Sultans of 3 states Pahang, Trengganu and Kelantan. To preserve the land's indigenous nature in perpetuity, it was gazette separately by each state's Enactments in 1938-1939. The park was renamed Taman Negara after the nation gain independence in 1957.No commercial exploitations is permitted, except for subsistence hunting by the aboriginals (the Orang Asli people).
Dark history of Taman Negara was almost happened in 1971 by the proposal of Malaysian National Electricity Board to build a dam on the Sungei Tembeling. The idea was abandoned in 1978, but was revived again in 1982, only to be discarded in 1983 through the effort of Malaysian Nature Society, who lobbied the federal government. The dam would have flooded some 13,00ha, and would meant the excision of 32,600ha from the park.
Taman Negara is the largest and the oldest protected area in the country. It covers 4,343 sq km; the central coordinates are 04°30' North latitude and 102°59' East longitude. The altitude ranges from 60m to 2187m at the summit of Gunung Tahan. This huge area shared among three states: Pahang 2,477 sq km (57%), Kelantan 1,043 sq km (24%) and Trengganu 853 sq km (19%).
In spite of being so far from the coast, most of the area (57%) lies below 305m above sea level. The Kuala Tahan park headquarters is one of the the lowest point at 120m above sea level. There are several hills in the park above 1,000m elevation, including the highest mountain in Peninsular Malaysia, Gunung Tahan at 2,187m, but there are no impressive high-altitude granite formations
The rainforest landscape has been geologically stable through out. Thus without any major geophysical upheaval, the forest has evolved relatively uninterrupted since primordial times.
The geology is sedimentary rocks, mainly sandstone and shale, with some scattered limestone outcrops and caves. Steeply tilted and folded sandstone outcrops are expose along the Sungei Tembeling, especially at Kuala Tahan and Kuala Keniam. Limestone outcrops are found at scattered locations, the highest of which is Gua Peningat (723m).
The Taman Negara park basin is drained by the Sungai Tahan, which originates at the foot of Gunung Tahan massif, and by the Sungai Keniam and Sungai Sepia. The pristine rivers in Taman Negara boasting waterscapes from mirror-still reflections to wild rapids and scenic waterfalls. With exotic names such as Tembeling, Tahan, Trenggan and Relau, these sungai or rivers including the tributaries and streams together number in the hundreds. Their waters range from crystal clear to coffee brown from the natural soil sediments. Rainforest rivers like these, which flow from peat soil virgin mountain forest catchments with no major human settlement or cultivation alongside, are now rare in the world.
Flora and Fauna
Malaysia is one of the 12th mega biodiversity areas in the world and Taman Negara's tropical rainforest indeed is one of the world's most complex and rich ecosystem. The park is home to about 14,000 species of plants and trees more than other forest in the world. There are more than 2,400 species of flowering plant, 200 species of mammals, 350 species of birds, 67 species of snakes, 55 species of frogs, 80 species of bat, 30 species of rats and 109 species freshwater fishes (15 species endemic to Taman Negara).
The vegetations is primary rainforest and can be classified into four main groups:
· Lowland dipterocarp forest
· Hill dipterocarp forest
· Montane oak forest
· Montane ericaceous forest
The tualang trees (kompassia excelsea), the tallest tree in South East Asia are mostly found on the plains along with a variety of hardwoods such as meranti (shores spp.) and keruing (dipterocarps spp.). Epiphytes such as ferns and rare species of orchids are abundant here, while oaks, laurel and conifers are found on the intermediate slopes.
Bronze aged artefacts have been recovered from Tembeling valley, between the Sungai Yong and Sungai Sepia. Archaeologist consider this to be one of the richest prehistoric sites in the country. The latest findings is at Gua Bewah and Gua Taat which is believed dating back to the Neolithic Age (400 BC).