Chiling Fish Sanctuary was established by the Selangor Fisheries Department in 2005 in order to create a protected area for several species of carps (family Cyprinidae), including the Malayan mahseer (Tor tambroides), known as 'Ikan Kelah' in Malay, and the near-threatened Copper mahseer (Neolissochilus hexagonolepis), or 'Ikan Tengas'. Both these fish fetch very high market prices (the 'Empurau' for instance, is priced at RM2000 per kilogram!) and as such are suffering from a severe decline due to over-fishing. The drop in numbers is also attributable to habitat-loss (most often related to dam building) as well as pollution. The Malayan Mahseer inhabits pristine rivers and avoids tainted and silted water, which means that their presence in a river is a good indicator of the river's health and cleanliness. This is another good example of why LNT principles are so important when outdoors.Before we go on, please jot down the numbers that are listed below. If you do see any suspicious behaviour when out hiking, encounter things like traps and snares, or even see protected animals or their parts that are sold as either collectibles, pets, or for (so-called) medicine, then please do not hesitate to contact the wildlife crime hotline. Be sure to try and document it as best you can with photos or video without putting yourself in danger, and take note of the details: descriptions of those who are involved, as well as when and where it took place.
"The Wildlife Crime Hotline, managed by the Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (MYCAT), provides YOU an avenue to report offences involving endangered wildlife in Malaysia. We protect the identity of all informants, only key info of the reports are forwarded to the authorities."
Once you have registered and paid the MYR1 entrance fee, make your way up and over the bridge and to the trail-head on the other side of the river. There is an immediate left turning almost right after. There are also five other river crossings after this one, but this is the only time where you will actually be crossing a bridge.
The sides of the trails are absolutely brimming with fern fronds, but if you look closely you might spot the occasional pitcher plant (Nepenthes sp.). As you make your way deeper, this frondescence seems to rise up and transforms what was once just a wide lane into a deeply shaded verdure tunnel. Ferns are seedless plants and like moss, use spores to reproduce. Ferns are vascular however, which means that they have tissues that carry water and other nutrients throughout the plant, whereas mosses are non-vascular. As plants, both exhibit alteration of generations: the gametophyte or haploid (n) generation, where spores are dispersed, grow into gametophytes which then form sperm and eggs; and the sporophyte or diploid (2n) generation, which begins after the sperm fertilises the egg to form a zygote. The zygote then goes on to produce sporophytes, which eventually disperse spores when mature.
Waterfalls of Malaysia
You will also see plenty of young fronds that are emerging in a process called 'circinate vernation'. These fronds are tightly coiled up in what are called 'fiddleheads' (referring to the top end of a violin), which is how the ferns protect the tender tip of the frond. As the parts that have already emerged expand and photosynthesize, they toughen up and help to expand the rest of the frond.
At the 1.25km mark, approximately half way in, you'll come upon a junction that has been blocked off. Taking the left turning here will bring you straight to the river and to your second river crossing, but this time without a bridge. All the crossings are marked with very large blue signs, so keep an eye out for them if you are uncertain where to cross.
When crossing rivers, please ensure that the waist strap of your backpack is undone just in case you are forced to ditch the bag. All the crossings here tend to be fairly straightforward as water levels generally do not surpass one's thighs, and thus can be navigated alone without group formations (such as 'line astern' or a 'group wedge'). This may not be the case however after heavy rain so please refrain from making river crossings in those conditions. Try to always make it a point to cross rivers at their widest points as the narrow points tend to have faster currents.
An extra form of support such as a stick or a walking pole can help immensely with your balance when crossing rivers. Try to face upstream diagonally, and lean forward slightly into the stick/pole. When moving, move a little bit at a time and shuffle your feet forward so that one foot stops downstream of the other. This narrows your profile and reduces the build up of water pressure. Try to also keep your footwear on as injuries can occur out of nowhere (I once had to treat a dislocated toe that got wedged between rocks).
If you do fall and cannot immediately regain control, consider removing the bag as it could push you under. Face downstream as quickly as you can and begin defensive swimming by raising your feet to protect yourself from oncoming rocks. Keep your back straight to ensure your bum does not bump on submerged rocks but your neck bent so that you can see where you are going.
The trail continues on from here running parallel to the river once again. The third crossing lies at the 1.6km mark with the rest of the river crossing located fairly soon after each other. You arrive at the first level of the waterfall (and the hoards of people) shortly after the sixth crossing. There are at least two other levels (with some saying seven) that used to be accessible at the junction at the last river crossing, but the upper tiers are now out-of-bounds due to higher rates of accidents and fatalities.