National Park (Taman Negara) of Peninsular Malaysia
Published on June 5, 2014 | by whc.unesco.org
The National Park of Peninsular Malaysia (Taman Negara), originally was gazetted as Gunung Tahan Game Reserve in 1925 and in 1939 it was declared as a National Park by the British Administrators under the name ‘King George V National Park’ under Enactment 1939, to commemorate the installation of King George V in England.
Historically the three parts were enacted under the respective Malay states of Kelantan, (Taman Negara Enactment (Kelantan) 1938), Pahang (Taman Negara Enactment (Pahang) 1939) and Terengganu (Taman Negara Enactment (Terengganu) 1939), and hence came under the purview of the respective Sultans of the three states and the British High Commissioner.
However, after Independence in 1957 “Taman Negara” came under the jurisdiction of the King (Yang Dipertuan Agong) and the respective Sultans of the three states. Administratively it was put under the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment and the administration and management came under the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, Peninsular Malaysia or PERHILITAN. The National Park was declared as ASEAN Heritage Park in the year 1984.
The total area of the National Park is 434,351 ha or 4,343 km2 and straddles the three states, namely Pahang (2,477 km2 or 57%), Kelantan 1,043 km2 (24%) and Terengganu 853 km2 (19%). The National Park is considered as one of the oldest land mass in Peninsular Malaysia of more than 130 millions years old. Geographically its land is between 80-2,187 m above sea level and about 57% of the total land are located in the range of 80-300 m, 41% in the range of 300-1500m and the remainder or 1 % is above 1,500 m.
The massif over 2,000 m above sea level is known as Tahan Range and the tallest mountain in Peninsular Malaysia, Gunung (Mount) Tahan (2,187 m) is the highest peak. There are three main river systems that originated from The National Park, namely Sungai Lebir, Sungai Terengganu and Sungai Tembeling that flow through the states of Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang, respectively.
The smaller rivers that are found in The National Park are Sungai Atok, Sungai Relau, Sungai Sat, Sungai Kenyam, Sungai Periang, Sungai Redap, Sungai Riul, Sungai Sepia, Sungai Siak, Sungai Tahan, Sungai Teku, Sungai Lebir and Sungai Tekak.
Geologically, The National Park consists of diverse rock formations, mostly sedimentary rocks in the entire area with minor granitic rocks in the eastern part. The sedimentary rocks consists of sandstones, shales and limestones, tectonically belonging to the Central and Eastern Belts of Peninsular Malaysia. The Central and Eastern Belts are demarcated by the Lebir Fault.
The Eastern part of The National Park belongs to The Eastern Belt which comprises of metamorphosed Carboniferous sedimentary rocks of Sungai Perlis Bed. This formation is uncomformably overlain by Permian Bewah Limestone and Jurassic-Cretaceous terrestrial deposits of Tembeling Group and Gagau Group. Gunung Tahan is situated on the Tahan Range which was formed by Jurassic-Cretaceous sandstones and quartzite.
The Central Belt is represented by Permo-Triassic marine shales and limestone caves which includes Gua Telinga, Gua Daun Menari and Gua Peningat (730 m above sea level), the highest limestone cave formation in Peninsular Malaysia. In addition to that the quarternary alluvium are found in the south-western part especially in the main river valleys.
Justification of Outstanding Universal Value
The National Park (Taman Negara) of Peninsular Malaysia is the first and the largest national park gazetted in the country. In Malaysia as it was gazetted in 1938/1939. It has been considered as the hotspot for biodiversity as it hosts many species of flora and fauna and many of them are endemic, rare, vulnerable or otherwise threatened in Malaysia.
Physical Ecosystem: The geological history of Peninsular Malaysia could be traced at The National Park where the processes of the landform formations had been crafted by nature. There are three main mountain ridges, namely Teku, Gunung Tangga Dua Belas and Gunung Tahan which run towards North-west to South-east of The National Park. The formation of these ridges was due to the competent sandstones and quartzite of the Jurassic–Cretaceous Tembeling Group terrestrial deposits.
These ridges were extended to the east through Gunung Penumpu and Gunung Gagau which consist of the Gagau Group. Both the Tembeling and Gagau Groups share similar rock sequence and geomorphological features with other Jurassic and Cretaceous red beds found in other parts of the world. Based on comparison with other red beds in China, the mountainous area between Gunung Tahan and Gagau plateau could be placed into danxia landforms of Ordos or Zhangshiya Types which are characterised by the presence of broad plateau, dissecting canyons and few isolated peaks.
Both types of landscapes represent the youth stage of danxia landscape formation. The lowlying area on the periphery of The National Park is made up of finer sedimentary rocks. The unique limestone karsts of tropical terrain resulted from the desolution processes in the Tertiary Period include landforms such as mogotes and tower karsts with caves of various shapes and sizes.
Biodiversity – Flora: The National Park is considered as one of the richest area in term of plant species and genetic diversity and hosts more than 3,000 species of plants. The fern flora are well endowed with more than 246 species in 26 families such as Selaginella wildenowii, S. mirabilis, S. scabrida, S. selangoriensis, Lycopodium carolinianum, Asplenium nidus, Tectaria faurei, Hymenophyllum serrulatum, H. exsertum, Crypsinus enervis, C. stenophyllus, Grammitis peninsularis, Dipteris conjugata, Osmunda vachelii, Coryphopteris tahanensis.
Among the ginger species such as Etligera littoralis, Zingiber spectabile and E. venusta and the latter is endemic to Peninsular Malaysia are also found. Etlingera littoralis, E. venusta, Zingiber spectabile, Z. kunstleri, Z. puberulum var. puberulum, Globba leucantha var. flavidula, Hornstedtia ophiuchus and Geostachys tahanensis are endemic to Peninsular Malaysia are found in the National Park.
Among the unique species of higher plants found in the area are the endemic gymnosperms Agathis flavescens, Podocarpus deflexus, P. montana and Gnetum globosum and some pitcher plants species such as Nepenthes gracilima, N. macfarlanei, N. sanguinea. There are many endemic palms in the National Park such as the Tahan serdang (Livistona tahanensis), Tahan bertam (Eugeissona bracystachys), Iguanura wallichiana, Licuala glabra, L. kunstleri, Daemonorops angustifolia, D. leptopus, D. propinqua, D. macrophylla, Calamus polystachys, C. laxissimus, C. ridleyanus, C. sedens, Polidocarpus macrocarpus, Arenga obtusifolia, Orania sylvicola, Nenga macrocarpa, Pinanga polymorpha, P. paradoxa and Pogonotium ursinum.
It is believed that more than 30% of the known palms in Malaysia are found in the area. Other noteworthy species include the endemic wild grapes (Pterisanthes glabra), and some rare species such as jewel orchid (Ludisia discolor), parasitic balanophores (Balanophora fungosa), Syzygium tekuensis, Pyrenaria pahangensis, Syzygium tahanensis, Adinandra angulata and the largest flower (Rafflesia cantleyi). In addition, more than 46 species of relatives of cultivated fruit trees were also recorded.
Other notable endemic flora includes Ilex tahanensis, Cynanchum seimundii, the slender twining epiphyte (Hoya pusilla), Begonia longicaulis, B. rheifolia, B. reginula, B. Barbellata, Grewia laurifolia, Rhododendron seimundii, Henckelia atrosanguinea and H. floribunda (Gesneriaceae).
Trees such as Diospyros tahanensis, Elaeocarpus floribundus, Ficus oreophila, Garcinia clusiifolia, Durio graveolens, Horsfieldia tomentosa are also endemic to Taman Negara. Jewel orchid (Ludisia discolor), a climbing citrus relative (Luvunga crassifolia), Burkillanthus malaccensis, Hodgsonia macrocarpa and parasitic plants of Thismia arachnites.
Biodiversity – Fauna
The National Park hosts the largest populations of animals that consist of about 150 species of mammals including:
Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus), Malayan Tiger (Panthera tigris jacksoni), Clouded Leopard (Neofelis nebulosa), Leopard Cat (Prionailurus bengalensis), Flat-headed Cat (Prionailurus planiceps), Asian Golden Cat (Catopuma temminckii), Malayan Gaur (Bos gaurus hubbacki), Malayan tapir (Tapirus indicus), Wild Boar (Sus scrofa), Binturong (Arctictis binturong), Mengkira (Martes flavigula), Barking Deer (Munctiacus muntjak), Sambar Deer (Rusa unicolor), Mouse Deer (Tragulus javanicus), Malayan Sun Bear (Helarctos malayanus), Serow (Capricornis sumatraensis), Asiatic Wild Dog (Cuon alpinus), Siamang (Symphalangus syndactylus), White-handed Gibbon (Hylobates lar), Dusky Leaf Monkey (Trachypithecus obscurus), Banded-leaf Monkey (Presbytis melalophos) and more than 80 species of bats and 30 species of rodents.
Notable small mammals include:
White-toothed Shrew (Crocidura fuliginosa), Smoky Flying Squirrel (Pteromyscus pulverulentus) and Oriental Small-clawed Otter (Amblonyx cinereus).
Taman Negara is one of the Important Bird Areas (IBA) in Malaysia. A total of 479 species of birds has been recorded excluding the migrant species, among them are:
Hill Prinia (Prinia atrogularis), Masked Finfoot (Heliopais personata), Crested Argus (Rheinardia ocellata), Mountain Peacock Pheasant (Polyplectron inopinatum), White-Bellied Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster), Crested Serpent Eagle (Spilornis cheela), Changeable Hawk Eagle (Spizaetus cirrhatus), Crestless Firebacked Pheasant (Lophura erythrophthalma), Pink-necked Green Pigeon (Treron vernans), Greater Yellownape (Picus flavinucha), Long-tailed Parakeet (Psittacula longicauda), Buff-necked Woodpecker (Meiglyptes tukki), Common Koel (Eudynamys scolopacea), Malaysian Hawk Cuckoo (Hierococcyx fugax), Javan Frogmouth (Batrachostomus javensis), Banded Kingfisher (Lacedo pulchella), White‐throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis), Rufous‐backed Kingfisher (Ceyx rufidorsa, Black Hornbill (Anthracoceros malayanus), Whreated Hornbill (Aceros undulatus), White‐crowned Hornbill (Aceros comatus), Southern Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros convexus), Rhinoceros Hornbill (Buceros rhinoceros), Great Hornbill (Buceros bicornis), Helmeted Hornbill (Buceros vigil), Malaysian Hill-Partridge (Arborophila campbelli), Gold-whiskered Barbet (Megalaima chrysopogon), Fire-tufted Barbet (Psilopogon pyrolophus), Green-billed Malkoha (Phaenicophaeus tristis), Rufous-winged Philentoma (Philentoma pyrhopterum), Spectacled Bulbul (Pycnonotus erythropthalmos).
One notable migratory species, they can be found along the rivers. Among the notable reptilian fauna are:
Speckle-bellied Keelback Snake (Rhabdophis chrysargus), Jasper Cat Snake (Boiga jaspidea), Green Crested Lizard (Bronchocela cristatella), East Indian Brown Mabuya (Eutropis multifasciata), Marbled Slender-toed Gecko (Cyrtodactylus quadrivirgatus), Impressed Tortoise (Manouria impressa), Spiny Terrapin (Heosemys spinosa), Malayan Flat-shelled Turtle (Notochelys platynota), Asian Brown Tortoise (Manouria emys).
Among the most notable amphibian fauna include:
Bongao Tree Frog (Polypedates macrotis), Spotted Litter Frog (Leptobrachium hendricksoni), Black Caecilian (Ichthyophis monochrous),an endemic Leptobrachium heterops, Minute Narrow mouthed Frog (Calluella minuta) andLatiff’s Torrent-dwelling Toad (Ansonia latiffi) two new endemic species to Peninsular Malaysia. Malayan Horned Frog (Megophrys nasuta), Rana chlaconota, Hose’s Rock Frog (Rana hosii).
A total of 53 species of fresh water fishes has also been recorded, including:
Malayan Mahseer (Tor tambroides), Copper Mahseer (Neolissochilus hexagonolepis), Jungle Perch (Hampala macrolepidota), Torrent Barb (Mystacoleucus marginatus), Sultan Fish (Leptobarbus hoevenii) and Kerai (Puntius halei). In addition, more than 57 species of amphibians, 67 species of snakes including some uncommon species such as Blunthead Slug Snake (Aplopeltura boa), Malayan Slug Snake (Asthenodipsas malaccanus) Rainbow Tree Snake (Gonyphis margaritatus) Scarce Wolf Snake Mountain Wolf Snake (Lycodon butleri) Red Mountain keelback (Amphiesma sanguineum) Ashy Pit Viper (Trimeresurus puniceus). In addition, a Tahan Bird Eating Spider (Selenocosmia tahanensis) which belongs to Theraphosidae and has been recorded once at Gunung Tahan in 1924.
Criterion (ix): The National Park which is believed to have formed about 130 million years ago housed diverse terrestrial ecosystems which contain a vast number of floras and fauna many of which are endemic, rare, endangered, and vulnerable. The river valleys, main rivers and tributaries harbour many species of herpetofauna and freshwater fishes.
These terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity have been undergoing both the ecological and biological processes resulting in richness of plant and animal communities, species and genetic diversity which are very significant to both the country and its people.
Criterion (x): Since its protection in 1938/1939, the area represents the largest habitat for in-situ conservation of both the terrestrial and freshwater river biodiversity in the country. As it contains many endemic plant and animal species and in particular many rare, vulnerable, endangered and threatened species of outstanding national, regional and universal value in term of science and conservation. Hence, it is deemed to be enlisted in the tentative list.
Statements of authenticity and/or integrity
Since 1938/1939, it has been managed and administered by the then Colonial government and later by the Federal government of Malaysia and also by the respective state offices of PERHILITAN in Pahang, Kelantan and Terengganu. The core conservation area of the National Park has been protected under the provision of the Taman Negara Enactment (Kelantan) 1938, Taman Negara Enactment (Pahang) 1939 and Taman Negara Enactment (Terengganu) 1939.
The level of protection is further enhanced by Wild Animals and Birds Protection Ordinance, No. 2 of 1955 which became Akta Perlindungan Hidupan Liar 1972 (Wildlife Protection Act 1972) and later superceded by the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 [Act 716]. No part of the area has been degazetted except a small part in Terengganu where it was inundated by the Kenyir reservoir in the 1980s and the buffer zones all around the area are adequate and remained pristine.
The inundated area has enriched the National Park with the aquatic life, especially the freshwater fishes, significantly. Hence the integrity of the National Park is secured through many legislative, regulatory and institutional protections and by means of individual management plans such as Management Plan for Taman Negara Kelantan, Taman Negara Terengganu: A Development and Management Plan, and Management Plan: Taman Negara Pahang.
Comparison with other similar properties
a) If listed, the National Park would constitute the only World Heritage Site in Peninsular Malaysia that includes areas of pristine tropical rainforest and rivers of more than 130 million years old that supports diverse large mammals, herpetofauna, birds, insects and fishes. It also contains the tropical flora with populations of high natural levels of diversity, abundance and richness.
In Malaysia it is comparable to both the existing World Heritage Sites namely, Gunung Kinabalu World Heritage Site and Gunung Mulu World Heritage Site, but both are situated in the Bornean states of Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak, respectively. The Gunung Kinabalu World Heritage Site represents the wilderness of more than 1,500 m above sea level, hosting the highest mountain in South-east Asia and represents the submontane and montane ecosystems.
The Gunung Mulu World Heritage Site represents the lowland limestone hills and lowland mixed dipterocarp forests that host the largest limestone caves with a high diversity of lowland flora and fauna too. The National Park thus represents the largest lowland tropical rainforests and some ecosystems of submontane and montane with diverse flora and fauna and also the oldest National Park in Peninsular Malaysia, in which there is no natural site of high conservation value that has been enlisted under the World Heritage Site.
b) Regionally, it is comparable to Ujong Kulon National Park, Java, Indonesia which was inscribed in 1991 representing the geological landscapes of prominence. The above said World Heritage Site is both outstanding in its landscape and richness in biodiversity, namely the flora and fauna.
It is also comparable to Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex, Thailand which is also rich in biodiversity and containing many endangered and vulnerable species of animals. In the region there is a limited number of natural pristine areas of Outstanding Universal Value and some are also in the process of getting enlisted in the Tentative Lists.
c) Internationally, it can be compared to a number of World Heritage Sites including Kaziranga National Park (India), Gondwana Rainforests of Australia (Australia), Phong Nha-Ke Bang (Vietnam), Wet Tropics of Queensland (Australia), Cocos Island National Park (Costa Rica) and Iguacu National Park (Brazil) in term of its biodiversity conservation of natural areas and wilderness.
However, these World Heritage Sites are of Outstanding Universal Values on their own. That of the National Park of Peninsular Malaysia represents another natural and extremely old tropical rainforest ecosystem of Outstanding Universal Value in term of the biodiversity conservation of flora and fauna in South-east Asia or Gonwanaland.