“Fewer than 100 tourists come here each month, although between June and September the number doubles,” said tour guide Che Ghani Che Mohd Noor.
Che Ghani, who has been organising firefly-watching trips since 2001 and is the sole cruise boat operator on the river, said the best time to visit the colony was from July to September.
“Although the fireflies can be found along the 13km-long river, the best sights are at spots around 5km from the makeshift jetty as there are many berembang and putat trees there,” he said.
Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh described the fireflies as a state treasure, just like the giant Chengal tree in Hulu Dungun, which is believed to be the biggest tree of its kind in the world.
“I have been informed about the fireflies during briefings but have not seen them yet,” he said, adding there was a lack of publicity on the place.
Idris said he would direct the Kemaman district office to ensure the habitat of the fireflies was not disturbed.
“We have to preserve the trees and riverbanks to prevent the problems that have cropped up in Kuala Selangor from occurring here,” he said.
“If we do not fully protect it, I fear the attraction would disappear one day,” he said.
As an immediate measure, Idris said the state government had banned the use of motorised boats to ferry tourists to see the fireflies at Sungai Yakyah as the fumes could endanger the insects.
He said the operators should only paddle their boats.
“The state government in fact has given two boats to villagers for this purpose and we will make sure the directive is complied with.
“We want to see the colony well protected and preserved. I will make a visit myself to ensure everything is all right.”
Idris said the state government would also build a jetty and a toilet for tourists at the site.
The firefly population in Kuala Selangor was reported to be dwindling due to pollution along Sungai Selangor.