Mangroves along the Cherating River
Muddy, brackish, potentially smelly and difficult to swim in. Not much fun for humans, but great for fish and crabs. What am I talking about? Mangrove swamps.
If you look closely at mangrove trees you’ll realise how different they look from other trees. For one, their roots don’t grow from the bottom of the tree but instead curve out from the trunks before looping down. Regular trees -are there such things as ‘regular trees’?- don’t have roots which grow as high as three feet above the base of the trunk, but then other trees don’t work the way mangrove trees are supposed to.
Mangrove swamps are a unique ecosystem which protect the soil in which they grow. Their elaborate root systems are so strong that they grip the soil and protect it from erosion. Mangrove swamps also serve as natural barriers against tsunamis and extreme weather, making the conservation of these swamps a high priority for coastal regions.
But not all mangrove swamps are found along coastlines. In Cherating, Malaysia, mangrove trees grow along the Cherating River. This riverine mangrove swamp which stretches for about seven kilometres is home to a variety of fish, crabs, monkeys and other animal life.
Despite how lush and green some mangrove swamps may look, they’re not entirely free from danger. Wetlands International, a global organisation dedicated to the conservation of wetlands, says that over the last few decades, Malaysia’s mangroves have declined by over 45 per cent from roughly 1.1 million hectares to the current estimate of 565,000 hectares.
Although a national committee has been set up to oversee research and replanting work, Malaysia’s remaining mangrove swamps continue to be threatened by illegal encroachment and drainage. Four years ago, I visited the mangrove swamps in Tanjung Piai in Johor, which are currently under serious threat of erosion from over-development. Thankfully, this isn’t the case with the mangroves in Cherating.
Getting to Cherating:
The beach town of Cherating is a three-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur or forty minutes away from Kuantan Airport. We stayed at The Legend Resort Cherating, which offers very attractive accommodation options. If you’d rather not drive to Cherating, you can catch a shuttle from the Grand Seasons Hotel in Kuala Lumpur – the details are all here.
Visiting the mangroves:
Boat trips to the Cherating River are conducted by Mohd Hafiz Abdul Majid of Hafiz Cherating Activities. Ninety-minute mangrove tours cost RM25 (adults) and RM15 (children), and run daily at 9am and 4pm. Hafiz also runs firefly tours on the river.
If you’d like to learn more about wetlands and mangroves, go here.
*My trip to Cherating was made possible thanks to The Legend Resort Cherating, Tourism Malaysia and Santai Magazine. Views expressed here, however, are all mine.
© 2013 – 2014, Anis. All rights reserved.