Wanderlust | Into the wetlands

IN A SEEMINGLY unending row of concrete structures that was designed to be Malaysia’s showcase of its changing lifestyle and robust economy lies a 335-hectare wetland that seems to soften its steel and concrete game face. For a tourist like me, Putrajaya Wetlands Park seemed to have come out from nowhere. For many years, Putrajaya was the Asian Tiger’s supersonic vehicle to the first world arena. Maybe it still is.

Last July 12 to 17, the Perbadanan Putrajaya, the organization that manages the federal territory, in partnership with Intermedia Network’s Santai Travel, invited international print and online media from Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia, Middle East, France, and the Philippines – to witness the “other side” Putrajaya, which the state has launched as Malaysia’s emerging tourism destination.

OBSERVING wildlife in the marshland

OBSERVING wildlife in the marshland

Billeted at the Pullman Putrajaya Lakeside, a sprawling lakeshore property that marries world-class comforts with traditional architecture, it was a fitting launch pad to our entry to Putrajaya’s Wetlands. From the resort, the vista of the state’s tranquil lake was charming view to behold. Pullman Lakeside’s F&B outlets along with some of its rooms and infinity pool were also perfectly ensconced fronting relaxing waterscape.

From a sunset cruise around the lake, we were given a half day adventure to explore the wetlands the following day.

Putrajaya Wetlands Park, said to be the largest constructed freshwater wetlands on this side of the globe, consists of 24 wetland cells built along the arms of the Chua and Bisa rivers. The wetland was actually a rubber and oil palm plantations many decades ago. Over the years, marshes and swamps were developed in cells, where more than 70 species of wetland plants were later transplanted from Putrajaya’s wetland nursery.

YES, (Red Bill) Black Swans are real.

YES, (Red Bill) Black Swans are real.

“Today, we have 24 species of indigenous fish, which were introduced into the wetland to enhance its biological diversity,” said our guide at the Taman Wetland, which was the entry point to the wetland.

Studies show that creating artificial wetlands, such as Putrajaya’s, can provide an alternative habitat for the foraging and breeding activities of different bird and fish species. Artificial wetlands also compensate to the more than 50% of natural wetland habitats that have been lost or degraded due to human intervention.

“The loss of natural habitat has also negatively affected wetland-dependent wildlife populations,” our guide added.

Taman Wetland houses a 25-meter high look-out tower that affords a bird’s eye view of the federal state and a Nature Interpretation Center. The center provides public education on ecotourism, information on the wetland plant bed filtration system, conservation of wetland habitats and uses of wetland products. It also has a wetland diorama, café and souvernir shop.3

Onboard a bike (which I opted along with some participants – others chose a more comfortable tram ride), we explored the expansive wetland park, pedaling down from the flamingo pond to the lush botanical and lake gardens.

As a wildlife sanctuary, the wetland also attracted various species of migratory birds from the northern hemisphere, such as egrets, pelicans and herons, making Putrajaya’s terrestrial-aquatic wetland environment as their pitstop.

The wetland park also has mini-forest that features a collection of more than 700 forest species including timber normally found in lowland tropical rainforests.

Putrajaya may have been partially made into a concrete jungle. Thankfully, the federal state also wants to keep it as a thriving green lung for its highly urbanized centers. Like they say, nature always finds its way.

The park is also open for the public for a leisure stroll, jogging and cycling along the bike trails from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

 

 

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