The mention of Taman Negara (National Park) in Pahang brings images of lush, pristine jungles apart from rivers with rapids and crystal clear water.
This virgin rainforest, believed to be 130 million years old and spread over 4,343 square km, comes under the jurisdiction of the National Parks and Wildlife Protection Department.
With its priceless treasure of flora and fauna, Taman Negara offers attractive packages for aficionados of jungle adventures.
The journey from Kuala Lumpur or Kuantan to the National Park takes about three hours.
Upon arriving at the Kuala Tahan jetty, one feels a sudden desire to explore upstream of Sungai Tahan.
Another route to Taman Negara is by river or land via Jerantut town.
There are many attractions in Taman Negara including the canopy walkway, Berkoh rapids, Bukit Teresek, safari nights, Gua Telinga, Lubok Simpon, Nusa Camp and orang asli settlements.
The park’s latest tourism product worth a visit is the Kelah Sanctuary in Lubuk Tenor.
This site has a research and conservation centre for the kelah fish, also known as Malaysian mahseer, and other attractions.
From Kuala Tahan jetty, visitors can reach Lubuk Tenor by going upstream in a 15-horse power boat for 15 minutes.
The boat fare is RM120, and split between four passengers, it is RM30 a person.
Among the activities, apart from swimming, are feeding and playing with the kelah.
Angling is allowed on condition that the kelah is released after it is hooked.
The visitors can also view schools of kelah fry swimming in the crystal-clear waters.
Fascination abounds when the sensitive kelah react with lightning speed as feed pellets are thrown on the water.
The kelah is known as the king of freshwater fish or river king as its flesh is tasty. Even its scales are edible when fried.
This is why kelah is expensive. A kilo of the fish costs thousands of ringgit.
The sanctuary is the fruit of a collaboration between Usains Holdings, a subsidiary of Universiti Sains Malaysia, and Perhilitan started in 2001.
The sanctuary’s management was taken over by Golden Mahseer Sdn Bhd (GMSB) in January 2006, with villagers providing the manpower.
GMSB managing director Roslan Abu Kasim, 43, said the task of conserving the kelah was delegated to locals, including orang asli of the Batek tribe.
The villagers act as agents to promote the sanctuary, he said, adding that 90% of the 2,000 Kampung Kuala Tahan folks were involved in tourism industry in Taman Negara.
The sanctuary is open to the public from 8am to 5pm daily and visitors have the choice of staying overnight at a nearby campsite.
Roslan said there were 30 tents providing accommodation.
A package of three days and two nights for four people at RM350 includes boat fare and food.
Those who sign up can also go for activities like jungle trekking to Bukit Kementor, kayaking, netting fish fry and a trip to the Berkoh rapids.
The Kelah Adoption Programme is available where, for RM20 each, visitors can release an adopted kelah fry into the river and receive a certificate for the effort.
The sanctuary also provides facilities for workshops limited to 30 people at a time.
“For angling, a minimum of four and a maximum of eight people are allowed twice a month as we do not want the fish to become fatigued,” said Roslan.
More information on the sanctuary is available at 09-266 3070. — Bernama
Source: The Star Malaysia Online.
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