Flora and Fauna
Malaysia has a precious forest heritage and rare wildlife with an abundance flora and fauna. Surveys identified that there are 8,000 species of flowering plants which inclusive of 2,000 tree species, 800 types of orchid and 200 types of palm besides being home to more than 200 species of mammals, 600 different bird varieties, 140 species of snakes, 80 types of lizard, 300 species of fresh water fishes and thousands of insects making their home in the rainforest.
The designated Permanent Forest Estate which is to be managed sustainable for the benefit of present and future generations covers 3.8 million hectares of virgin jungle, and more than 1.49 million hectares of conservation area. A very famous example of Permanent Forest Estate is the great Taman Negara National Park which is one of the world’s oldest tropical rainforests. It straddles the borders of Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang. Though logging activities has be carried out in some of the jungle, there are still lush permanent forest estate covering Terengganu of which most of the jungle in the interior start from Ulu Dungun, Kenyir Lake then to the north Gunung Tebu.
Because most of the forest in Terengganu are part of Titiwangsa Mountain Range which means some of the jungle are above 600m of its altitude. And so, like any of the tropical rainforest, the main types of forest are the lowland rainforest which stratifies into three main layers with the top one rising to 45m of heights. There are thousands and thousands of trees - big trees, small trees, dead trees, cut-up trees and climbing these trees are the vines and lianas. Underneath, on the ground surface is a layer of leaf-litter, fully decomposed or in various stages of decomposition.
Needless to say, this lush rainforest has not only producing huge amount of fresh oxygen to the neighbouring area, meanwhile hiding inside are valuable and unique floras and trees. Among these, the tualang reaching 80m of heights, the world’s tallest tropical tree, while some valuable timber such as Nyatuh, Jelutong, Hevea (Malaysia Oak) and Ramin are also found in the heart of the jungle and are very famous and common wood used in most of the wooden furniture manufacturing.
Although logging activities has been an argument on many environmental protection meetings and gatherings, to supplement the future wood supply of the country and to relieve the pressure on the natural forests, forest plantations have been and will continue to be established in Terengganu.
Apart from trees, underneath plants such as the magnificent fan palm, the climbing bamboo, the slender stemmed walking stick palm, pitcher plants and various medical plants that are used in the traditional medical as health support and to treat wounds and diseases, for example the ginger plant family (Zingiber spectabile), Mengkudu (Morinda citrifolia), Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma longifolia) etc grow wildly in the forest. In forest at Kenyir Lake area there grow the world’s largest flower, the Rafflesia. All these make up to a lush and greeny tropical rainforest.
There are myriad of creatures - great and small that depend on the jungle for their habitat and survival. The vertebrates such as elephants, tapirs, tigers, deer, seladangs, snakes, iguanas, pangolins that roam the ground. While monkeys, squirrels, bats, birds are arboreal in habitat. Others such as frogs, tortoises, crocodiles, fishes live partially or fully in water. Beside this, there are the various kinds of insects, beetles, leeches, worms, and microorganisms that are found in the soil or above ground surface. In addition there are the spirits, imagined or real, evil ones and kind-hearted ones.
Animals like tapirs (or the Chinese called it “Four Unlike” due to its physical appearance) who is curled snout or trunk and white bottom, looks between a wild pig and hippo is one of the endanger wildlife apart from tigers and the largest mammal in the jungle, the elephant. Tigers were once common in Malaysian jungle but are now declining in the number, this happen too to the elephants. Anyway, reported by some trekkers and orang asli who trek into the heart of the forest that roam of these creatures are heard and sometimes elephants’ dropping are seen along their trekking route.
Whereas there are hundreds types of freshwater fishes find their way in the rivers crossing the jungle some with remarkable market value such as Sultan and Toman especially in jungle bordering with the Taman Negara in the south. Some of these fishes are the main source of dietary protein for the jungle dwellers, the aborigines - the Orang Asli, (so-called Proto-Malays) who stay deep in the jungle or income sources for some fisherman living along the rivers.