Lambir Hills National Park – Malaysia
Protecting one of the world’s most complex and diverse forest ecosystems, Lambir Hills National Park was created in 1975. Within an area that is less than 7,000 hectares, scientists have found that this national park has the greatest level of plant biodiversity on earth. Nearly 1,200 species of trees are found within Lambir Hills National Park. Along with such diverse plant life comes diverse wildlife, and Lambir Hills National Park with over 300 species of ants, nearly 250 species of birds, more than 60 species of mammals, nearly 50 species of reptiles, and 20 species of frogs and is a rich kaleidoscope of biodiversity.
Some of the birds found in Lambir Hills National Park include the Bornean bristlehead (Pityriasis gymnocephala), garnet pitta (Erythropitta granatina), green broadbill (Calyptomena viridis), rufous-tailed shama (Trichixos pyrropygus), crested goshawk (Accipiter trivirgatus), rhinoceros hornbill (Buceros rhinoceros), dark-throated oriole (Oriolus xanthonotus), rufous-collared kingfisher (Actenoides concretus), dusky broadbill (Corydon sumatranus), banded kingfisher (Lacedo pulchella), rufous-backed kingfisher (Ceyx rufidorsa), hook-billed bulbul (Setornis criniger), large-tailed nightjar (Caprimulgus macrurus), dark-throated oriole (Oriolus xanthonotus), rumped flowerpecker (Prionochilus xanthopygius), black-throated wren-babbler (Napothera atrigularis), Bornean blue flycatcher (Cyornis superbus), blue-headed pitta (Hydrornis baudii), Hose’s broadbill (Calyptomena hosii), and brown hawk-owl (Ninox scutulata).
Some of the mammals found in the national park include flying squirrels, wild pigs, gibbons, a variety of monkeys, and deer. Large mammals such as the sun bear (Helarctos malayanus) are absent or very rare due to the small size of the forest and illegal hunting.
Compact and conveniently located, just 20 miles south of Miri in Sarawak on the island of Borneo, Lambir Hills National Park is one of the most accessible and beautiful national parks in Malaysia. Lambir Hills National Park is composed mainly of sandstone hills and lowland dipterocarp forest, with some small areas of heath forest. Lambir Hills National Park has dozens of sparkling waterfalls and bathing pools scattered about the rugged rainforest that rises up to over 1,500 feet above sea level in some areas.
Lambir Hills National Park’s unique topography and its complex ecosystem have made it an important site for rainforest study. In fact, several research institutes have scientists permanently stationed in the national park studying its natural history.
Another of Lambir Hills National Park’s many attractions is the national park’s interesting selection of forest walks, which range from gentle 15-minute strolls to arduous all-day jungle treks. Most of the nation park’s trails are interlinked, so it is very easy to take more than one walk in a single day.
The Latak waterfall trail is the shortest, easiest and best known of Lambir Hills National Park’s trails. This is an especially popular trail with day visitors from Miri, particularly on the weekend. This shaded trail follows a fast-flowing stream to the 75 foot Latak waterfall. Along the way there are two small waterfalls, but the main attraction is the Latak waterfall at the end of the trail. Emptying into a large forest pool surrounded by steep rock walls, the Latak waterfall is breath-taking to behold. Facilities such as picnic areas, changing rooms, and bathrooms are located near this pool area. Swimming in this beautiful pool is allowed, but some parts of the pool are quite deep making it unsafe for non-swimmers and small children.
Shortly before reaching the Latak Waterfall, the Pantu trail branches off to the left and leads up to a series of steep steps. At the top of these steps there is a 130 feet tree tower designed to give visitors a view of life in the forest canopy, including many birds, insects, epiphytes, ferns and orchids that cannot be seen from the ground. Lambir Hills National Park has a series of tree towers, a canopy walkway and a canopy crane that provide access to various elements of rainforest’s vertical structure. Shortly beyond the tree tower, the trail branches off to the left and leads to the Nibong waterfall.
Then there is the long trail to the summit of Bukit Lambir, Lambir Hills National Park’s highest point. This summit trail is quite steep in at times, and can be difficult for some, but it is a trek worth taking, if you are able. There is a superb view from the summit, including the transition from dipterocarp forest to heath forest, and the beautiful flowering wild orchids. On the way down, there is another beautiful pool at the base of the Dinding waterfall that you will want to see.
A study in 2008 revealed that six of Lambir Hills National Park’s seven species of hornbills have disappeared from the national park. Also the number of carnivore, raptor, and primate species had declined significantly since 1980. The study recommended that conservation efforts in the national park should focus on law enforcement to protect wildlife from illegal hunting within and around the park.