On 26 August 2011, my good friend, L C Goh, from Kuala Lumpur, and I travelled to Taman Negara, in Central West Malaysia.
This park was first national park in Malaysia, is the largest and has purportedly, the oldest rainforest in the world. It is, quite correctly, promoted by the Malaysian Government as the flagship park. Unfortunately, for me, this means that it is very busy, and it is very difficult to find places where you will not get interruped by a train of guided tourists on a jungle walk. PLEASE NOTE that this is not a complaint. I have been thoroughly spoilt on my previous tropical rainforest experiences. The park is a perfect introduction to this habitat for anyone not used to it, and it is also a safe and great place for a family.
Despite this regular distraction, and the fact that the weather was not entirely kind to us, we were able to find over 120 species, many of which were new to me. This first species to come to our attention was this female Arhopala, which has since been identified as Arhopala kurzi.
This species was found on the track to Lubok Simpon. This area is where the locals come to have picnics and swim, and it gets very busy from mid-day onwards. This is a shame, for a butterfly photographer at least, as it would be the perfect place to find puddling species. The only species of worth that we came across there was this Polyura delphis concha, a beautiful large species, which although not considered rare, was a new species for me.
By far, the most interesting species were to be found in the dense forest. This meant an interesting walk, not always as easy as I would like. There are short stretches where you need to climb, or lower yourself down on ropes as the track can be very steep and, if it has rained, slippery. The effort is worth it, and below, are some of the rarer species we found.
By far the most unexpected find was the very rare Chestnut Rajah (Charaxes durnfordi durnfordi). This is a much prized species in collections, and certainly took our breath away as it flew around us, attracted to our sweat rucksacks and camera.
As long as the weather has been good, I would strongly recommend a boat trip up to Lata Berkoh. The trip takes you through real rainforest, with huge trees towering over you, and leads to an area where you can swim. However, if it has been raining, this is not allowed, as was the case with us (see photo of location, below)
Many people think that rainforests are teeming with animals for them to see. This is not the case. Yes, they are there, but, very wisely, most of them try to keep a distance between themselves and us. However, we were very lucky to have a visitor to our chalet, an endagered Malay Tapir. This is not a good photo, as it was dark, and my camera seemed to object. Hopefully you can get a good idea of what the species is like from this. I know LC got much better photos (he is a much better photographer than I am).
On the way back to KL, we stopped at an interesting looking spot around Genting. It did not disappoint. It is always a delight to see Malaysia’s national butterfly, the Rajah Brooke’s Birdwing (Trogonoptera brookiana), but more than this, I was able to rectify an ommission from my previous trip to Maliau Basin, when a couple of the group managed to photograph the Glorious Begum (Agatasa calydonia calydonia). It was a great surprise to find it here, and an opportunity I was not going to miss this time.