Tasik Bera is the biggest inland lake as well as the largest freshwater wetland system in Peninsula Malysia. It is also the first RAMSAR site in Peninsular Malaysia, with over 200 bird species, 50 mammals, 328 species of flora and 95 freshwater fish species. Situated in southwest Pahang, this lake is about 24 km long and 6 km wide, interconnected by waterways flowing to the Bera and Pahang rivers.
It has a complex range of habitats, ranging from lowland tropical rainforest, peat swamp forest and open water bodies, to rivers, streams and unique Lepironia articulata beds. It is also the home of the Asli “Semelai” people for many hundreds of years.
Although very difficult to spot, the extended wetland area and its surrounding forests still support tigers, tapirs, elephants, and other endangered species. The clouded leopard, wild boars, monkeys, flying squirrels, and flying lemurs are other wildlife known to exist in Bera. The lake also contains a large number of freshwater fish species, including both popular aquarium and sport fishes.
For nature enthusiasts, Tasik Bera is an ideal place for many recreational and adventurous activities. Visitors can choose to jungle trek, participate in river safaris, or go fishing. The relatively isolated and tranquil surroundings of the open water are also perfect for boating or kayaking. Visitors can cruise river channels and inlets in search of vegetation and wildlife.
Today there are approximately over 1200 Semelai in Tasik Bera. The majority of them live in Pos Iskandar, a settlement area with five main villages where they cultivate hill rice, cassava, vegetables, fruit and rubber trees. Traditional Semelai homes are built from forest products such as bamboo for flooring and tree bark for walls. Dependent on the lakes and forests, the Semelai continue to fish, hunt and trap wildlife to supplement their income.
Adept at utilizing forest products to make traps, spears, and canoes, the Semelai still uses these traditional devices for their daily catch. They also practice the traditional collection of minyak keruing. The resin from the keruing tree that can be used for making torches, sealing boats and as an ingredient in perfume. Medicinal plants are usually planted near the home and are still used to fend off fever and other aliments. Their extensive knowledge of both the forest and lake habitats make them a popular choice as guides among sport fishermen.