Of Crocodylus porosus and Sungai Kesang…

While many are getting excited about how clean the water is, one has to be reminded to not even think of swimming there

pic by BERNAMA

THE water is just unbelievably crystal clear, and that is certainly one of the main reasons for visitors to drop by at the Pengkalan Nelayan Kesang Laut, located at the delta of Sungai Kesang.

And yes, the number of visitors seems to be increasing by the day. The nearby market, where the catch of the day will be sold, is now enjoying good sales.

In previous years, the place was more like a clandestine spot for regulars who love their seafood fresh.

Adjacent to the market is a cosy little warung. It used to be the leisure area for fishermen who were in between “shifts” — a place where they’d hang out before and after they completed their “mission” at sea.

These days, business is rather brisk for the owner as more out-of-towners have been making their way into the once quiet area.

The attraction? Apparently, many people also stop by the jetty with the hope of catching a glimpse of the crocodiles that have been making random appearances of late.

Photos and videos of the crystal clear water of Sungai Kesang, which separates Johor and Melaka, have also gone viral on several social media platforms within the last four months.

Anglers are also making their way to the mouth of the river and they are rarely disappointed.

For avid bird watchers, Pengkalan Nelayan Kesang Laut is also now a popular haunt as migratory birds are also flocking and resting at the mangroves surrounding the riverbank.

How clear is the water? Well, you could actually see the river bed clearly. Yes, it is that clean — which is a surprise — as just about a year ago, the water quality might be rather good, but it was certainly not as crystal clear as it is today.

The characters that might just drop by at the jetty are also rather random.

Ada nampak buaya ka (did you see any crocodile)?” one lady, who was carrying her little white dog, randomly asked a group of friends from Kuala Lumpur who seemed to be rather occupied with their cameras, as they tried to capture the best images at Pengkalan Nelayan Kesang Laut.

Near the surau is a huge tent that houses four enforcement officers from Battalion 6 Pasukan Gerakan Am in Bakri, Muar, who have been stationed at the location since early this year to monitor the area’s safety and security. Apparently, Kesang Laut was at one point a favourite entry port for human and drug traffickers, as well as smugglers.

In short, the area is creating quite a buzz and interest from the outside world which is picking up rather nicely.

Upstream, another location that seems to be getting quite a number of visitors is the Dataran Rekreasi Sungai Rambai, which was once “deserted” after the completion of a rest and relax (R&R) area along the more popular Lebuhraya Alor Gajah-Melaka Tengah-Jasin, or popularly known as Lebuh AMJ. The food outlets at the R&R are also reporting good business these days.

While many are getting excited about how clean the water is, one has to keep reminding the more adventurous souls to not even think of swimming there.

The Melaka Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) has warned the public to not turn the river into a “swim fest venue” as tt has been declared a saltwater crocodile habitat since 2018.

Melaka Perhilitan director Mohd Hasdi Husin said Sungai Kesang would turn clear and bluish during high tide, supposedly due to the lack of land and agricultural activities upstream during the Movement Control Order (MCO) (information he got from the Melaka Drainage and Irrigation Department).

Now, no one could guess how long this “phenomenon” would last. As it is, the economy is gradually being opened and many activities that were halted during the MCO are being rebooted as we speak.

Would Sungai Kesang remain as crystal clear as it is now, or would it revert to its old state when no one really even bothered to appreciate its existence?

Perhaps, both Johor and Melaka state governments could collaborate on initiatives and programmes that could preserve the beauty of the river and sustain people’s interest in the area that could in turn be translated into economic gains for the citizens of both sides of the river.

After all, nature, with the help of the MCO, has done both states a favour. It is now up to the people in Melaka and Johor to reciprocate. Just saying…


Zainal Alam Kadir is the executive editor at The Malaysian Reserve.

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