The Royal Belum State Park - nature's breathtaking gift. Picture courtesy of Tay Sia Ping.

UNDER a nimbus of rainforest trees in the pale waning light of a tropical afternoon, the undulating waters of the placid lake rock the houseboat gently. It’s quiet out here at the Royal Belum State Park.

The skies overhead warn of impending rain, but Andrew Sebastian, chief executive officer of Ecotourism & Conservation Society Malaysia (ECOMY) is undeterred. The quest to see hornbills in the wild is best met at this swathe of ancient rainforest, dating back to 130 million years. It’s the only existing place to spot all 10 species of hornbills found in Peninsular Malaysia, and Sebastian is determined that the motley group of people aboard the houseboat gets a chance to view these amazing birds. Rain or no rain.

ECOMY’s co-founder, ceo and intrepid naturalist Andrew Sebastian looking out for the elusive hornbills.

“Let’s go!” he finally beckons as the chug of engines breaks our reverie. We reluctantly rise from our languorous lull to don our lifejackets before stepping gingerly into the waiting boats. “We’re heading to a spot where there’s a fruiting tree,” Sebastian’s voice is raised above the din of the engines. He’s seated in the next boat with a group of photographers and waving his hands at us, he gives his final instruction before his boat speeds off: “Follow me!”

The 4th Royal Belum Hornbill Expedition organised by ECOMY, a non-governmental organisation that’s focused on sustainable ecotourism as a means to ensure that conservation values are upheld at all key natural heritage sites in Malaysia, with the support of Emkay Group, Belum Rainforest Resort and Royal Belum State Park Corporation — has begun for real.

Read more: https://www.nst.com.my/lifestyle/pulse/2018/09/413927/spectacular-show-royal-belum-state-park​