Kuala Gula Bird Sanctuary
In the state of Perak is a large expanse of mangrove forest known as the Matang Forest Reserve (IBA Code: MY05), spreading along the coastline for 51km and up to 13km wide. Kuala Gula Bird Sanctuary is at the northern tip of Matang Forest Reserve while Bagan Panchor is to the south. This small but active fishing village, about 50km from Taiping, covers both an inter tidal and mangrove habitat. Close by is an island called Pulau Kelumpang, which is completely surrounded by newly formed mudflats where the seedlings of the mangrove trees Avicennia spp have grown successfully. This is a valuable roosting site for waterbirds and nesting ground for resident birds. Most birds can be viewed from a boat.
A fruitful time to visit is between the months of October and December. Kuala Gula Bird Sanctuary is fortunate to have the Milky Stork and Lesser Adjutant, both globally-threatened species, grace its shores. Between late August through to late April, a variety of waders ‘wintering’ here are also present. Some of the common waders include Whimbrel, Lesser Golden Plover, Bar-tailed Godwit, Common Redshank, Common Greenshank and Terek Sandpiper. The beautiful white egrets, namely Great Egret, Little Egret and Intermediate Egret are here too. Sighting the globally-threatened Chinese Egret is rare but a possibility.
Kuala Gula Bird Sanctuary is also a rich breeding ground for herons such as Little Heron, Purple Heron and Grey Heron. A few bitterns can be seen along with various species of terns and gulls, sometimes seen perching on boundary poles of cockle beds, lying in wait for a fish or two.
If time permits, a walk on a gravel road (1-2km) running along the mangrove, starting at the most north- western end of the fishing village can turn up colourful species like the Black-capped Kingfisher, Common Kingfisher, Stork-billed Kingfisher and White-throated Kingfisher. Other birds such as munias, woodpeckers, bee-eaters, tailorbirds, sunbirds and a few resident raptors such as Crested Serpent-Eagle and Brahminy Kite can be seen.
Other wildlife in the area include otters, Silvered Leaf Monkeys, Long-tailed Macaques, Bottle-nosed and Ridge-backed Dolphins, Wild Pig, bats and civets. Reptilian delights present are Malayan Water Monitor, Clouded Monitor, pythons and mangrove snakes.
Overall, about 166 species of birds have been recorded during surveys carried out by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks Peninsular Malaysia (PERHILITAN).
How to Get There
From Taiping or Parit Buntar travel on the old trunk road Route 1, turning off at Simpang Empat. Travel 20km along Jalan Gula then turn left at the T-Junction of Kuala Gula/Kuala Kurau. Travel 5km down this road to reach the township. Look out for the Department of Wildlife and National Parks Office sign on your left before entering the town area.
Taxi-Take a KTM train from Kuala Lumpur/Butterworth to Taiping. The rest of the 50km journey can then be made by a hired taxi as there is no bus service to Kuala Gula.
Accommodation and Other Facilities
Chalets are available for visitors intending to stay in the sanctuary. Please contact PERHILITAN (shown below) for further enquiries.
Other Facilities/ Services
For hiring guides and boats for birdwatching, the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, Peninsular Malaysia (PERHILITAN) staff do offer these services to the visitors (upon requests – refer the contacts – Additional Information session).
PERHILITAN Interpretive Centre
Visit the Department of Wildlife and National Park’s Peninsular Malaysia (PERHILITAN) excellent Information Centre from 9am-5pm. This centre provides information on migratory birds as well as the conservation efforts by PERHILITAN.
Restaurants offering local fare are available.
This estuarine locale is ideal for those who enjoy a combination of wader-watching and walking amongst the mangroves with shady Rhizophora spp, Avicennia spp and Brugeira spp. trees looming above and beside them.
Nearby Tourist Spots
Highly recommended Kuala Sepetang Mangrove Boardwalk (about 1.4km long), near Taiping, run by the Forestry Department.
For further information (Hiring Guides, Accommodation, Boat Hiring etc),
please contacts (PERHILITAN, Perak):
Tel: +605-243 6645
Fax: +605 – 243 6635
Email: PERHILITAN (Perak)
Kuala Gula Office
Tel: +605-896 2207
Fax: +605 – 890 5773
Email: Kuala Gula Bird Sanctuary
Information Source: malaysiabirding.org Picture Source: malaysiatourism