Fireflies In Kampung Pulau, Kota Baharu

Last update: 18/06/2014

By Siti Rohayu Zakaria and Hulaimiah Mohd Naim


KOTA BAHARU (Bernama) -- Kampung Pulau in Kubang Kerian here is not very different from any other village in Kelantan, except that it is home to thousands of fireflies twinkling and glowing around the kampung at night.

It is the only village in Kelantan where one comes across these winged beetles in their thousands, the lightning bugs from the Lampyridae family with the scientific name "Pteroptyx tener".

Six kilometres away from Kota Baharu, fruit orchards dot Kampung Pulau while the riverbanks of Sungai Lubuk Durian, which runs across the village, are lined with berembang mangrove trees, a natural habitat for the fireflies.

Fireflies are unique insects, known for the light that emanates from their abdomen. Like a lit bulb, the light from the abdomen of the insect twinkles about three times every single second.

The male species of the firefly is more luminescent than the female.

However, according to scientific research, the insects have a lifespan of only two to three months.


THE PULL OF BEREMBANG TREES

The best time to catch the fireflies in flight is between 8.00pm and midnight unless it is raining. Also, the insects do not produce their light on a full moon night.

To watch these earthly "twinkling stars" in Kampung Pulau, visitors can catch a boat at the jetty of the local resthouse called Min House Camp. The boat takes visitors some 1.5 km away to what is called the Kampung Pulau Fireflies Park, a point where the insects congregate, putting up quite a divine show for the visitors to admire these natural shining sparkling beauties.

Min House Camp is a kampung-style rest house for the visitors, offering packages to tourists including one that also has a visit to the firefly park on the itinerary.

As if the romance of thousands of insects twinkling like tiny stars was not enough, Wan Noriah Wan Ramli, 56, who runs the rest house, makes it exhilaratingly more interesting.

She said the twinkling fireflies start sparking off their lights, and then synchronize their flashes until thousands of them begin flashing to the same rhythm, producing a stunning display and lighting up the entire area at one go.

"These insects have long been around in Kampung Pulau, but more tourists still need to know about the phenomenon, especially those interested in exploring the beauty of Malaysia's natural heritage", she said.

Wan Noriah, who has been trying to popularise the park since 2010, said those operating the rest house will help bring guests closer to the river area where they can enjoy the wonderful scenes of fireflies, up close, and be mesmerized.


INCOME GENERATION

The fireflies' favourite haunt are the berembang trees, as the insects survive by sucking on the liquid produced by the trees that flourish well in riverine areas, mangroves and swamps.

At the Min House Camp, Wan Noriah said the rest house plans various activities to engage visitors in traditional pursuits like making kites, and weaving nipah leaves among others.

A relatively new tourist attraction, the village seems to have also gained since the locals are finding employment opportunities in tourism related activities.

They are working in jobs like boat operators, moderators of traditional games as well as traditional arts performers like dikir barat, wayang kulit and also as cooks.

A gallery displaying various species of fireflies has also been set up at the rest house.

Deputy Director of Tourism Malaysia Kelantan, Kamal Azam Kamaruddin said the Kampung Pulau fireflies were unique as they were different from other species, being larger in size.

"The firefly park is bound to attract visitors from within Malaysia and also abroad and will benefit the locals besides contributing to the country's earnings", he said.

Kamal Azam expects the place to receive 1,000 tourists every month.

Recently, the Min House Camp, Tourism Malaysia Kelantan and Kelantan State Government came together to plant berembang and baharu-baharu trees along the banks of the river Sungai Durian to expand the natural habitat available for fireflies.

Clearly, if they work in tandem, much like the shiny bugs flashing in a well coordinated fashion, the country will be able to boast of one of the most unique touristic attractions in the world.

-- BERNAMA