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Biodiversity-rich Natmataung (Mt. Victoria) National Park enchants tourists

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Natmataung National Park was listed as ASEAN Heritage Park and is located in the Kanpetlet city of Chin State.  Photo : Oaktha

Myanmar is rich in natural resources. It is one of the most awe-inspiring places for tourists in the region. As Myanmar will reopen international passenger flights on 17 April 2022 (the Myanmar New Year Day), Myanmar’s tourism will revive with ecotourism and recreational tourism activities. Natmataung National Park was listed as ASEAN Heritage Park and is located in the Kanpetlet city of Chin State. The park and Natmataung (Mount Victoria) captivate visitors as a biosphere reserve with a picturesque view of floral biodiversity.
Myanmar is typically crowded with tourists during its New Year Thingyan Festival. The seasonal Padauk (Pterocarpus macrocarpus) and Nguwah flower (Cassia fistula) bloom in the summer. The hill region possessing the stunning view of the blooming flower makes the country shine. If there had been no pandemic, it would have been packed with local visitors and tourists during the high tourist season. The visitors enjoy visiting Chin State with the chilling and scenic view. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, tourists flocked to Natmataung National Park every year, and Kanpetlet city was bustling with visitors.

Once popular tourist spot – Natmataung National Park
The visitors can enjoy Chin State’s mountain ranges with astonishing scenic views and a sea of clouds. Another attraction is local food which is different from urban areas. Natmataung National Park is rich in plants, animals and ecosystems. The breathtaking view of Mount Victoria, traditional businesses of ethnic people, rice wine, beef, natural greenery and blooming flowers such as orchids and Rhododendron, and the rich biodiversity of the National Park are drawing the attention of the tourists and researchers.

Natmataung National Park listed as ASEAN Heritage Park
Natmataung National Park has been regarded as a forest reserve to conserve the biodiversity and natural environment saefawiefaoiwefiunder the Forest Law from 1936. The warden’s office was opened in 1995 to preserve the ecology and manage the park. It was intended to establish the National Park according to Notification No 60/97 dated 23 July 1997 and was recognized on 2 December 2010 according to No 164/2010. It was listed as ASEAN Heritage Park on 20 September 2012.

Objectives behind the recognition of ASEAN Heritage Park
That ASEAN Heritage Park is surrounded by Kanpetlet, Matupi and Mindat townships, covering 176,202 acres – 29,495 acres in Kanpetlet Township and 133,907 acres in Mindat Township and 12,000 acres in Matupi Township, respectively. The objectives behind the recognition of ASEAN Heritage Park are to promote greater awareness of preserving the hill ecosystem, habitats of native animals and the wetland areas, generate income from the ecotourism business, and enhance the local community’s livelihood.

National Park – home to various species and animals
Natmataung National Park has recorded the highest temperature of 32 degrees centigrade and the lowest of 3°C, and annual rainfall is approximately 65 inches. Mount Victoria is estimated at 10,200 feet above sea level. Quartz and other precious stones can be found in its surrounding hill regions. It is the highest mountain in Chin State. It has four significant ecosystems —mountain, forest, freshwater, and grassland. Its wild animals and rich biodiversity in hill evergreen forest, pine forest, Hill Savannah/Meadows and Hill Forest captivate tourists.

Nation’s pride with native floral species
The park is home to oak species, hazel species, Rhododendron, pine trees, petal beans, cinnamon, bay leaf, cherry and other species in the evergreen forest, recording over 1,000-2,500 plant spe-cies. There are rare native floral species found only at Natmataung National Park; Rhododendron burmanicum, Rhododendron caffeanum, Roscuoea australis and Potentilla montisvictoriae.

Conserving biodiversity habitat
The mammals such as swine, jackals, deer, leopard, clouded leopard, leopard cat, civet, bearcat and pangolins inhabit the park. Wildlife animal hunting is protected with four surveillance stations. It is home to 35 mammal species, 155 insect species, 106 amphibian species, 345 bird species, 77 butterfly species, 914 plant species, 202 orchid species and 108 herbal plant species.

Trip to Natmataung National Park
Natmataung National Park was recognized as the ASEAN Heritage Park on 20 September 2012. As it is located in southern Chin State, there is a transport facility. It takes an hour flight for the Yangon-NyaungU trip and only five hours for road transport from NyaungU to Kanpetlet city. It is an hour’s drive 13 miles away from Kanpetlet city to the National Park. The visitors can enjoy the alluring scenic view from two hour-trekking tours from the car terminal to the top of Mount Victoria (3.5 miles trip). The tourists prefer this trekking tour plan. Furthermore, there is also an Express bus service from Yangon to Kanpetlet to facilitate the transport for the local visitors and tourists.

Conserving the animal species at the National Park
Kanpetlet city, where Natmataung National Park’s warden office is located, belongs to an eight-mile birdwatching camp, 10.5 miles camp, Hlaingdote camp, an awareness place of the old city and Mindat outpost, 16-mile camp on the roadside of Mindat-Matupi, with 29 staff to preserve the biodiversity and manage the park. Despite the shortage of proficient staff in technical skills, the national heritage is being protected and maintained. Awareness campaigns to protect wild animals and endangered species are being conducted. Patrolling, collecting the plant and animal species survey, land use assessment, border assessment, erecting the awareness signboards, pro-hibited signs, and notice signs.
Fire safety measures are also implemented to protect wild animals’ lives, prevent habitat loss, and restore natural habitats activities. The residents have been holding homemade improvised arms with licences (Tumi guns) from the past generations, and hunting activities are closely monitored in the park.

Continuous efforts for the ecotourism boom
The region’s socio-economic development relies on manufacturing, livestock, agriculture, tourism, and traditional businesses. The residents in Kanpetlet town are engaged in cultivating the elephant foot yam, tea leaf, coffee bean and tourism business. The southern Chin State has prospects for economic development. Ecotourism, including trekking tour to Mount Victoria, appealing mountain views, exciting bird species, evergreen forest and floral beauty of Rhododendron and native orchid species, tradition and customs of the ethnic people can effectuate the economic development of Chin State. The sustainability of the ASEAN Heritage Park can build the country’s image, enhance the economic benefits and promote the quality of life for the local community. As a result, all the stakeholders concerned must work together in the conservation activities. The ecotourism boom is also expected.

Sustainable Park that preserves natural resources
The forest warden and the staff also face squatting, shifting agriculture and timber harvesting, exploitation of herbal plants and Rhododendron and hunting, illegal land use, resulting in a con-siderable impact on the tourism businesses. The participation of the locals plays a pivotal role in tackling such problems and preserving the park’s natural beauty.

Natmataung National Park welcomes tourists
Chin State is endeavouring for economic development with good infrastructures and striving to attract investments. The picturesque beauty of hills, the sunrise view and the mountain breeze are the tourist attraction of Chin State. Enhancing the management of the mountain ecosystem and carrying out research on biodiversity contribute to ecotourism and generate incomes for the residents. Thus, the related departments and local and foreign institutions under the government’s guidance must cooperate with the local community to preserve the natural resources of the National Park. Chin State’s signature is Rhododendron flowers like cherry in Shan State. Chin hills surrounded by Rhododendron trees enchant the visitors with traditional rice wine. Kaladan and Manipur rivers flow into Chin State with its mountainous geography is standing proudly for the ecotourism businesses. This article is written for Natmataung National Park. Its rich biodiversity and floral beauty are also recognized as one of the ASEAN Heritage Parks to warmly welcome tourists and local visitors.

Translated.

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