ABOUT THE FOREST RESERVE
Belum-Temengor Forest Complex (or fondly called BT) is undoubtedly northern Peninsular Malaysia’s “natural jewels”, the only remaining contiguous block to tropical rainforests linking southern Thailand (Bang Lang National Park/Hala-Bala Wildlife Sanctuary) and parts of the Titiwangsa Range. This large forest complex, about 320,000 ha, consists of several different blocks that are administered by two main State government namely Perak State Parks Corporation and Forestry Department.; the Royal Belum State Park and Gerik, Temengor, Banding and Amanjaya Forest Reserves (see the map below)
The tropical rainforests of BT are reputed to be older than those in the Congo (Africa) and Amazon (South America). BT supports an amazing array of biodiversity rivaling, or not surpassing, Taman Negara National Park. Past scientific expeditions into BT have uncovered various new findings (some even to science), country records, endemic plants and fauna and geological wonders. BT, however, is also known to support large populations of Malaysia’s mammals such as the Malayan tiger, Asian elephant, primates and Malayan Tapir. BT also fulfils the needs of all 10 hornbill species found in Malaysia. It is one of the two sites in this country that all 10 species can be seen in a single location.
WHY BELUM TEMENGOR IS A SPECIAL PLACE FOR HORNBILLS
In Malaysia, very few places can rival BT in terms of hornbill diversity. Only the Greater Ulu Muda Forest Complex (GUMFC) is on par. The earlier MNS expeditions first provided the evidence that Malaysia supported 10 hornbill species with the discovery (of its seasonal mass movement) and confirmation of the Plain-pouched Hornbill. The 10 hornbill species are:
Oriental Pied Hornbill Anthracoceros albirostris
Bushy-crested Hornbill Anorrhinus galeritus
Black Hornbill Anthracoceros malayanus
White-crowned Hornbill Berenicornis comatus
Wreathed Hornbill Aceros undulatus
Wrinkled Hornbill Aceros corrugatus
Plain-pouched Hornbill Aceros subruficollis
Rhinoceros Hornbill Buceros rhinoceros
Great Hornbill Buceros bicornis
Helmeted Hornbill Rhinoplax vigil
Globally, Malaysia is ranked 2nd place with Myanmar in terms of hornbill diversity per country – 10 each (Thailand and Indonesia takes first place with 13 species). However, it we look at hornbill diversity per single site, BT together with GUMFC and southern Thailand are in the top position which brings us to the HOT Triangle which stands for Hornbill Triangle. (refer to map below)
THE MNS-BT STORY THUS FAR
MNS has advocated for the conservation of BT since the 1990s where the Society organised two scientific and heritage expeditions into Sungai Halong (in Temengor) and Sungai Tan-Hain (in Royal Belum). The expeditions where first of its kind in Malaysia and later such actions were adopted by other government agencies in various states. The BT expeditions resulted in confirming the site’s natural (and national) heritage value thus in need of protection and conservation attention. Globally, it is also recognised as one of Malaysia’s 55 Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA).
Post-expedition period, MNS has been involved in further advocacy work in securing proper protection status for BT. In the mid-noughties, MNS and her allies mounted a campaign to call for BT’s protection which resulted in the partial protection of the forest complex i.e. gazettement of the Royal Belum State Park (117,500 ha) in 2007.
Apart from that, MNS has also established the MNS Hornbill Conservation Project in 2004 as the Society’s demonstration of its long-term commitment in the conservation of BT’s biodiversity. It remains the only hornbill conservation work in Malaysia to date.
Today, MNS continues to advocate for better protection for the remaining parts of BT and explore more opportunities to initiate exciting on-the-ground conservation projects while consolidating the others. Your action in sharing the MNS BT story with others is a first step in helping them to know and appreciate BT and perhaps lend a hand as well.