Pulau Kukup | It’s A World Of Contrast, A Different Thing Altogether
Pulau Kukup (Johor) National Park was established in 1997 to protect one of the largest mangrove islands in the world. This unique island that spans 647 ha is an important refuge for many mangrove-associated plants and animals; a number of which are considered to be rare or threatened species. The park’s boardwalks, viewing platforms and informative signage make it the perfect place to observe and uncover the web of life within this unique interface between land and sea.
The park is an important stopover site for migratory waterbirds undertaking the perilous journey along the East Asian – Australasian Flyway (EAAF). The 807 ha of mudflats that surround the park are productive feeding grounds for these birds during low tide, whereas the mangroves provide a safe place for them to roost.
The park is also important for the local human population living on the Kukup mainland. Its mangroves are a fish nursery that supports the local fishing industry, whereas its mudflats are rich with shellfish that provide a source of food and income. Overlooking the Straits of Melaka, one of the busiest shipping routes in the world, the island shields the coastal villages from the full force of wind and waves. In January 2003, the park was designated by the Ramsar Convention as a Wetland of International Importance, or Ramsar Site.
Like many other small islands in the region, Pulau Kukup has its fair share of myths and legends. Among them is the tale of the goblin princesses; one of whom fell in love with a sailor, with grave consequences. Another story tells of a giant snake that protects the island and occasionally swims across the straits, over to Pulau Karimun in Indonesia. In the olden days, Pulau Kukup notorious as being a pirate’s den. According to one (unverified) source, the island’s name stems from the Malay word ‘gugup’ (lit. “nerve-wrecking”), which is what seafarers of yore might have felt when they sailed past this island, en route to the Straits of Melaka.