Fancy a forest night walk at Sama Jaya Nature Park?

Abdul Karim (3rd right) launching Sama Jaya Nature Reserve’s new Urban Forest Night Walk.

By Nancy Nais

KUCHING, Aug 29: Fancy taking a night walk in the forest, look for small animals or see what they do?

These can be found at Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC)’s newly launched ‘Urban Forest Night Walk’ smack right in Kuching city, at Sama Jaya Nature Reserve (SJNR).

At the launch last night, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah who was elated at the new ecotourism products took the two-hour night tour, listening to the park guides as he enjoyed the sights and sounds of the Sama Jaya forest.

“This is fantastic and a relaxing fully guided night walk in an urban forest. I believe this new ecotourism product will be a wonderful opportunity for visitors to witness the nocturnal species that only come out at night such  as frogs, flying lemurs, birds and other insects.

“Earlier on, we released a male slow loris that lost his way in SJNR. He was found at a nearby housing estate and surrendered by a member of the public to SFC.  Prior to the release, the slow loris had his final medical check up conducted at Matang Wildlife Centre. It has been a long journey for him, but he is finally back at home, in the forest,” Abdul Karim told reporters after the night walk.

He also pointed out that SJNR has unique species of trees, such as Pokok Kumpang or the ‘bleeding tree’.

“When we cut a small part of the branch, the red sap flows out of it and it looks exactly like blood flowing,” he added.

With a whopping 66 totally protected areas, including 46 national parks, five wildlife sanctuaries and 15 nature reserves, Abdul Karim said Sarawak has so much to offer that “just what meets the eye”.

Hence, the ministry together with SFC are working together to develop more eco-tourism products to boost domestic tourism.

Although the Covid-19 pandemic has hit Sarawak hard, Abdul Karim emphasised the ministry must be prepared for current and future challenges.

“We are constantly on the lookout for avenues to tap on any economic values that our national parks have to offer while not forgetting the allowable number of visitors.

“Currently, the number of visitors allowed to enter our state nature reserves and national parks has been increased to 200, from the previous 100 pax.

“Many people wanted to visit our nature reserves and national parks during this Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) but everyone must comply with the standard operating procedure (SOP) as well,” he explained.

Abdul Karim (centre) speaking to reporters after the Urban Forest Night Walk, with Sarawak Forestry Corporation chief executive officer Zolkipli Mohamad Aton (left) and his ministry’s permanent secretary Hii Chang Kee.

Meanwhile, SJNR covers an area of 38 hectares within the boundary of Kuching city, consisting of kerangas forest and a wide range of small mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and various wild monkeys.

Famous for its jogging track and attractive forest atmosphere, Abdul Karim disclosed that SJNR attracted about 20,000 joggers per month (before the Covid-19 pandemic), which was an average of 500-600 people per day.

SFC has also recently completed some renovation and upgrading of facilities in the park, including on an activity centre, Bamboo Museum, Japanese Garden and the jogging tracks.

Booking for the urban forest night walk can be made at SJNR (082-365194) and Visitors Information Centre (082-248088).

A minimal fee of RM50 per group (1-5 pax) is applicable and an additional RM10 per person is charged if more than five people in the group.

The park reminds the public that during the RMCO, only those who made prior booking will be allowed entry as they have to limit the number of participants at 10 pax per group per guide and they are only operating on three nights a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday). — DayakDaily