Monday, June 03, 2013

Revisiting Bako National Park


BAKO National Park, which celebrates the 56th anniversary of its gazettement this year, is still one of the Malaysia’s best kept nature reserves.

My last visit to the Park was 26 years ago. It was an educational trip, organised by Green Road Secondary School (GRSS) Geography Club, led by former teacher in charge, Rambli Ahmad, who is now the geologist and ecologist with Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) Sdn Bhd.

Memories of that overnight trip still linger. It was one of the best back-to-Nature outings. Visions of the trek along the forest trails and good times playing on the beach are still as vivid as ever.

One can hear the sounds of crickets, cicadas, frogs, and occasionally owls while taking a walk in the Park at night.

The beach near the Park’s headquarters is a great place for a night walk. If the tide is out, you can see crabs, prawns, anemones, starfish, annelid worms and young shrimps in scattered pools.

Bako National Park, the state’s oldest but smallest nature park, is home to the rare proboscis monkey, the odd-looking simian with a huge pendulous nose and large pot belly.

This monkey can sometimes be seen moving about the forest or mangroves in small groups and feeding on young leaves, shoots, sour fruits and seeds.

Many who visited the Park just to see the proboscis monkey in its natural habitat often came away without sighting any.

Most had to settle for the silvered leaf monkey or silvered langur. The adults have silver-grey fur and a spiky crest of head hair with the infants covered surprisingly in bright orange fur.

New features

A new administrative block, doubling as a visitors’ information centre, was recently built at the Park. A cafeteria and mini gallery were incorporated into the building.

The mini gallery is a must-see because there are interesting photographs and valuable information on the Park, especially the various jungle trails and the unique flora and fauna.

Being fully air-conditioned, it’s also the best place to escape the humidity outside.

The new building, completed two years ago, is equipped with modern toilets and showers.

Kampung Bako residents who run the cafeteria, serve delicious Malay dishes at reasonable prices.

The wooden plankwalks, connecting the hostels and chalets, is another welcomed feature, making it possible to enjoy the convenience of walking safe at the night and dry when it rains.

These facilities are provided in part to prevent contact between people and nocturnal wild animals, especially snakes. However, most snakes found at the Park are non-venomous.

The grass green whip snake is easily recognised by its bright colour, pencil-slim body and long snout. Another species is the paradise tree snake.

The only known poisonous snake occasionally sighted is the Wagler’s pit viper with its broad, flat, triangular head – a rare capture on film for many avid Nature photographers.

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