In the district of Seberang Perai Selatan, Penang.
Coordinates of the park are N 5 09.840 E 100 28.586
You can access the Google map here.
Natural Heritage Status:
Nibong Tebal is situated beside Kerian River. Mangrove trees of the species Berembang (Sonneratia caseolaris) and nipah palms (Nypa fruiticans) lined the river banks of Kerian River. Fireflies are attracted to these berembang trees. They are found in clumps between the Nipah palms. The present of these fireflies along the Kerian River is a natural heritage worth preserving in the state of Penang. Nibong Tebal town is now popularly known as a fireflies watching destination of Penang. The icon of Nibong Tebal is the firefly.
Nibong Tebal firefly destination was declared a tourist attraction by Jawi State Assembly person YB Tan Cheng Liang on 22nd March, 2006. It has the support of the Penang State Government and Penang State Forestry Department.
The jetty to take boat to watch fireflies is at the end of the main road (Jalan Atas) of Nibong Tebal town. The tour is not recommended for rainy nights as fewer fireflies are out or during full moon nights as they are not so bright or spectacular. The best time to watch is 1-4 hours after sunset between 7 to 11 pm.
According to the local tour operator, there is no direct public transport to Nibong Tebal from Penang Island. However, taxi can be hired to reach this enclave.
A standard boat tour to see fireflies takes about half an hour.
Tourist boats operate between 7.00 pm to 11.00 pm.
Rate for Firefly Watching (Up Stream)
Adult: RM12/pax Child: RM8/pax
Charter Boat: RM100/boat (Max. 15 persons/boat)
Rate for Firefly Watching (Down Stream)
Adult: RM15/pax Child: RM9/pax
Charter Boat: RM120/boat (Max. 15 persons per boat)
Level of Development:
In 2007, the Penang State Government through Seberang Perai Selatan District Eco-Tourism Development (SPSDETDC) began developing the potentialities of Firefly watching in Nibong Tebal. To promote the firefly eco-tourism industry, the Penang Forestry Department has engaged researchers to research the multiplying capacity of the fireflies at the Kerian River. The Penang Forestry Department had planted 5000 berembang trees to prevent housing lights from affecting the habitat of fireflies.
Jetty to take boat to watch fireflies is situated at the end of Nibong Tebal town. The town has an estimated population of 15000 persons.
Popular with local tourists during weekends, public holidays and school holidays. Most foreign tourists were hotel guests from Penang Island. There are two registered tourist boats and one unlicensed boat operating the firefly watching business. Each boat can make 3 to 4 trips per night averaging to 100 persons per night.
No hotel facility at Nibong Tebal. The nearest accommodation is Bukit Jawi Golf Resort.
Pollution: Pollution is the main threat to fireflies’ habitat. Direct discharge from the drain into the Kerian River could affect the growth of larvae of the fireflies along the river.
Attitude: Attitude of visitors to catch fireflies will harm the fireflies’ population.
Development: Uncontrolled development of housing and infrastructures near the Kerian River had affected the fireflies’ habitat. Lights from development had caused the diminishing of the fireflies.
Boat operators should provide proper guidance to visitors on the dos and don’ts while visiting the sites. Authority should treat household drain water before discharging into the river.
Penang Forestry Department has done research regarding the multiplying capacity of the fireflies at the Kerian River and had planted berembang trees to act as a screen to filter lights from the surrounding household areas from damaging the habitat of fireflies. More planting projects should be encouraged.
In Malaysia, there are about 29 identified species of fireflies which formed the four major groups of fireflies, the Pteroptyx, Luciola, Colophotia and Lychnuris. This beetle [Firefly] in the class of Insecta, falls under the main order of Coleoptera, then in the family of Lampyridae and finally the various species, sub-species and variants. Now, there are about 2000 identified types worldwide. These beetles are well distributed in the cool highlands and the low wetlands and estuary belts.
Firefly of Nibong Tebal belongs to the same species as that of Kuala Selangor. The scientific name is Pteroptyx tener – one of those that practices synchronized flashing.
The species of kelip-kelip of Nibong Tebal, residing only in mangrove areas. During the day, they retreat into the bushes just behind the mangroves. As night falls, they move to the mangrove trees (called pokok berembang) lining the banks to feed on nectar from the leaves and to attract mates with their synchronised flashing. The chemical reaction in the thorax of the insect produces a cool green glow that is controlled to flash at a rate of 3 flashes per second. The males flash within 1/30th of a second of each other whilst the females do not flash as frequently as the males. Each tree has different groups of families and sometimes the synchronisation of flashes on one tree falls out of synch with the neighboring tree.
It is best to visit the place just after nightfall and not later than 11.00pm, after which time the kelip-kelip would have found mates or mated, and subsequently the flashing would stop.
Benefits to Local Communities:
Local communities involved in restaurant business in Nibong Tebal town were doing a brisk business from visitors. The town was livelier with load of tourist coaches and cars coming into town in the evening.
The Berembang trees grow on tidal streams or coastal area along the riverbank. The fruits are edible, but astringent. The same display trees may be used over a long period, and river boatmen in Malaysia are said to use firefly trees as navigation aids.
How to Get There
Using the North-South Highway (PLUS) (E1), exit at Jawi (Exit 156). Follow the signboard and head south towards Nibong Tebal on the trunk road (1). Upon reaching Nibong Tebal, you will go up a flyover. Immediately after the flyover turn left, going under the flyover towards the town (P169). Continue straight passing the main road, Jalan Atas (P169) in the town until the end of the left row of shop houses. Look out for a small signboard. Turn left into a small lane that leads to a jetty. Bus needs to park on the main road (Jalan Atas).
Majis Pembangunan Eco-Pelancongan,
3711 (Tingkat 1), Jln Ooi Kar Seng, Taman Sri Maju,
14300 Nibong Tebal, Seberang Perai Selatan,
H/P: 012-4742749, 012-5554873, 012-4515062, 012-4753320
Jetty Pasar Lama,
Pulau Pinang, Malaysia.
Tel: 012-5554873 (Tan Chin Hock), 019-4780382, 012-4515062
Pejabat Perhutanan Negeri Pulau Pinang
Tingkat 20, Menara KOMTAR
10300 Pulau Pinang.
Tel :04-6505250, 04-262 5272
Email : email@example.com
Pejabat Renjer Hutan Lipur Nibong Tebal,
Seberang Perai Selatan
14300 Nibong Tebal, Pulau Pinang
(UP Ranger Azman 013-4213559)
Majlis Pembangunan Eco-Pelancongan S.P.S (2007), Pulau Pinang
Kumari Nallakumar, ASEAN Review of Biodiversity and Environmental Conservation (ARBEC) 2002
Devid & Teoh (2004), Fireflies Fading, Star Publication.
Jalaludin (2000), Firefly Nature Notes, Kelip-Kelip Trading & Services Sdn Bhd.