Geographical Make Up of Endau Rompin National Park - Johor Malaysia
sungai jasin. there's beauty in danger... and danger in beauty
In 1892, miner and surveyor H.W.Lake and Lieutenant H.J.Kelsall entered the Endau-Rompin area to conduct scientific research and documentation. They recorded and collected inexhaustible specimens from the area and noted a healthy number of large animals such as elephants, the Sumatran rhinoceros and deer traversing the area.
In 1933,with the help of Lake and Kelsall's documentation of the area and its fauna and flora, Endau-Kluang area was declared a forest reserve. Later in 1972, the reserve was further expanded to include an area within the Lesong Forest Reserve in Pahang.
After a number of years of dispute, the Johor government finally creates Endau National Park, covering 48,905 hectares.
This park straddles parts of the Pahang and Johor borders and both state governments have set up separate state management to manage the 870sq.km area which covers a total of 92,000hectares (roughly one and a half times the size of Singapore). Although on the Pahang side, the area is still retained as a forest reserve and has yet to be cited as a national park it now includes sections of the Labis Forest Reserve, Endau Mas Forest Reserve (Johor), and Lesong Forest Reserve (Pahang). The park protects one of Malaysia's remaining lowland-forested areas and hilltop bogs, which harbours a variety of plant life endemic only to the area. It is also home to the highly endangered Sumatran rhinoceros i.e. Dicerorhinus sumatrensis (for more, click: the rhino sanctuary) with an estimated number of only 10 to 25 in the area. It is extremely difficult to spot these retiring animals especially when they are mainly found roaming in watersheds off-limits to visitors.
Our very own Sumatran Rhino. Highly protected and endangered but unfortunately still poached for its horns. There are an estimated 2 left in the Endau Rompin National Park according to the spokesman from the Malaysian Rhino Foundation, Encik Mohd Khan. He warns that the park has been allowing too many visitors into the park with little screening. He is worried that if the park does not addresst this issue soon, the poachers will still have a fieldday shooting game, especially those that bring them big profits such as the Sumatran Rhino. Information extracted from The Star, 26th March 2002. To date 2004, poaching is reported to be rampant within the boundaries of the park. Game meat like tiger, binturong, wild cat, bears, armadillos and civet cat is sought after in Singapore and the rest of the Chinese inhabited part of this earth unfortunately.
The Endau-Rompin area has a very distinct geological infrastructure. Aeons ago, when the world was young and giant reptiles roamed the land, sea and sky; the earth was an extremely volatile environment. Over millions of years, the divergence and convergence of plate-tectonics pulled away pieces of land that used to exist as one gigantic landmass to what we see as the different continents now. Violent volcanic eruptions and earthquakes were normal occurrences. Geologists theorised that the Endau area suffered what was deemed as 'the most violent type of volcanic convulsion'. Known as the 'ash flow eruption', the tumultuous pressure from within the earth shot gas at speeds of up to 100km/hr through the cracks and fissure created, releasing huge amount of ash into the atmosphere. The intense heat reached a temperature of perhaps 1000 degrees-C. This eruption of gas carried with it, minute crystals of quartz and glass, pumice and larger pieces of rock. The ash-clouds produced a huge volume of ignimbrite deposited on the area possibly over a series of repeated eruptions. Heavier rocks and other particles settled and welded together with the help of the searing heat produced, creating a plateau. It is believed that such deposits could not have formed under water as would with lava eruptions and that the Endau ignimbrite was formed when the region was already above sea level. This may in a way substantiate that life in the rainforests in Malaysia could have began life earlier than the other low lying rainforest countries.
With 26kms of treks meandering through the jungle, visitors can learn to appreciate the complexities of the land and its beginning especially at the rapids on Sungai Endau and on the upper parts of Jeram Upeh Guling where Quartz crystal ignimbrite can be seen on the surface.
Folklore of Buaya Sangkut (The trapped crocodile)
The Orang Hulu (Indigenous people) of the area tells a story of an old crocodile that lived in the pools above the waterfall. One day it floated downriver and got itself trapped between the boulders where its body formed the cascades of the fall. (buaya = crocodile, sangkut = trapped). Another less popular story but entertaining all the same tells of a family who lived by the banks of Sungai Jasin. The father dreamt of his son's death in the jaws of a crocodile that lived in the river. He took it as a warning and with that, moved his family upstream. The recurring dream drove the family further upstream pass the waterfall. True to the premonitions of these dreams, the crocodile had followed them. On climbing the fall, the croc lodged itself between the boulders and the father took this opportune moment to kill it. He made a drum from the leather of the crocodile and hung the drum high in the house. One day as the son was playing below the drum, it fell on him killing him instantly
Changes at the park
guling-guling at batu hampar
There has been much change at the park in recent times. In the interest of the development of tourism, the road has now been extended all the way from the HQ to the base camp at Kuala Jasin. But most visitors still take the scenic boat ride up the river. It would be a shame if this service was to be stopped,which in my opinion will deprive many of that initial thrill of following in the footsteps of great explorer such as Robert Wallace or Hornaday. Travelling into the deepest rainforest jungle of South East Asia is a wonderful sense of adventure. Trekking through the undergrowth, covered by the canopy of towering trees estimated at 100years or more, drenched in perspiration, experiencing the little wonders of nature - leeches included (harmless little creatures) all come in a package when we explore the tropical rainforests. Everything is inter-connected, from the undergrowth to the gigantic trees and the little creatures that live in it. Some would attribute the jungles to a messy garden, something that should be cleared. However, under the laws of nature to have one component is to sustain the other.
The treks in the park has recently been expanded to accommodate the influx of potential visitors. Much of the lower foliage lining the treks has been cleared away which includes species of local herbs, rattan vines and fig vines..to ensure a more comfortable trek. Although some of the beauty and wonders of flora and fauna has been eliminated from the areas closer to the treks, it may be better to spend a few more days at the park to wander around the outer areas.
Whilst the clearing is still in progress, efforts have been made to reduce silting into the streams and rivers. Unfortunately, during heavy rainfalls a lot of soil is washed into nearby rivers and can be extremely murky;the most affected area is at Sungai Jasin. Hopefully, the soil will stabilise soon by allowing the undergrowth to regenerate. After all, isn't it fun learning about the strange concoctions locals brew with the herbs. Sometimes what we see as mess could actually be a lifesaver!