The tranquillity, the fresh and cool mountain air and the verdant foliage has made the hill station of Fraser’s Hill a favourite destination for nature lovers.
Located 105km north of Kuala Lumpur and sitting at 1,524m above sea level, the hill station is a haven for bird watchers as it is the transitional rendezvous for migratory birds flying south to New Zealand and Australia between March and June every year, to escape from the harsh winter of Siberia.
First-timer Kozue Yamaguchi said he was impressed with the variety of bird species found at Bukit Fraser.
“I get to see birds that I have never seen in Japan,” he said.
It’s no surprise then that Fraser’s Hill ranks 23rd as the venue for the world’s bird watching event and is on the top four list of locations for international bird race meets in Asia, coming after China, Thailand and Indonesia.
Fraser’s Hill Development Corporation (FHDC) is taking steps to preserve the natural environment to ensure that the hill retreat remains relevant as a destination for migratory birds.
Other than migratory birds, Fraser’s Hill is also host to large and hairy tropical spiders called tarantulas (theraphosidae).
These arachnids face the threat of extinction, due to the general lack of concern for their survival, compounded by the callous act of either catching or mortifying them for sale as souvenirs.
Their nests are difficult to find, as they are located on mountainous terrain. Tarantulas can grow up to 15cm long and their bite is rather painful and poisonous.
FHDC science officer, K.S Durai, who has been acting as guide for bird-watchers for the past 23 years, said the tarantulas in Frasers Hill are mostly over 40 years old.
Durai, who is considered by many as the walking encyclopaedia for Fraser’s Hill flora and fauna, said male tarantulas usually die after reaching sexual maturity at the age of five years. However, he said the female of the species have a longer life span and would lay eggs once a year, after the rainy season.
He said the tarantula has a unique dual-tone feature where the four front legs appear to have a golden tint while the four rear ones are dark blue in colour.
Durai said poachers usually catch the tarantulas, which are later sold in foreign markets, like in Japan, where each spider can fetch as high as RM228.
“The tarantulas are reared as pets even though they need a temperature range of 16 to 22 degrees Celsius to survive”, he said.
According to Durai, tarantulas are protected under the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 and any person found guilty of keeping it illegally can be fined RM50,000.