Kuala Selangor: Wetlands Of Significance
The Expat|August 2017

Not far from the urban chaos of Kuala Lumpur lies a gem of a nature park, complemented by some of the best seafood around. David Bowden makes the short trip to Kuala Selangor and finds plenty to enjoy.

David Bowden

When I received my first pair of basic binoculars, the swampson the outskirts of my home city were places where the council dumped its rubbish – they were, after all, just wastelands.

Things have changed and these swamps, as I knew them, are now generically known as wetlands and they are definitely not wastelands anymore. We also recycle more garbage than we ever did and our wastes are dealt with in different ways, too. Perhaps the biggest change, however, is that these former wastelands are now tourist attractions; yes, who would have thought people would now be interested in taking their binoculars to such places to admire the wildlife found there.

Many residents of and visitors to Malaysia are wild about its wildlife and they don’t have to travel far from Kuala Lumpur to see native animals in their natural habitat. In fact, one of Malaysia’s most rewarding wildlife encounters can be experienced just north of Kuala Lumpur near the mouth of the Selangor River.

WETLANDS, NOT WASTELANDS

Like many other wetlands around the world, those near Kuala Selangor were once considered wastelands until they were recognised as one of the most productive of all natural areas. Kuala Selangor is a small fishing village situated just 65km from Kuala Lumpur (taking 60 to 90 minutes to drive, depending from where in KL you depart), and is best known among Malaysians as a pleasant destination for fresh and affordable seafood served in atmospheric restaurants beside the Selangor River.

These days, the seafood is still popular, but an estuarine nature park known as Taman Alam Kuala Selangor (Kuala Selangor Nature Park) now appeals to nature lovers in general and birdwatchers especially. While Kuala Selangor is among Malaysia’s smallest nature parks, it has a variety of natural attractions with reasonable facilities. The nature park, covering some 320 hectares, is located at the base of Bukit Melawati which is where the Altingsburg Lighthouse stands high above the town. The lighthouse’s name is obviously not Malaysian, as it was named by the Dutch when they briefly occupied this part of the world in the late 18th century. (Interestingly, this foreign name remains unchanged, although the area is best-known as Bukit Melawati.)

Access to the nature park is at the base of this hill with clear roadside directional signs to Taman Alam Kuala Selangor.

A DYNAMIC ECOSYSTEM

Kuala Selangor’s wetlands were once covered in mangroves, but these were harvested for their timber and, once cleared, converted into fishponds. After this project failed, the nature park was established and an artificial earthen bund was built and soon after, forest species re-emerged from the mud.

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