The Kuala Gula Bird Sanctuary is located in the district of Kerian in the state of Perak Darul Ridzuan. The sanctuary has been established since 1970 by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (PERHILITAN) and the state government of Perak. The main objective of creating the sanctuary is to protect migratory and resident bird species, which have been using the wetland area for many years. The migratory birds utilise the large mudflat area for feeding and resting during their migratory route from the northern to the southern hemisphere. Tens of thousands of migratory birds comprising 48 species of 8 families visit Kuala Gula from September until April each year. Some of these migratory birds come from as far as Siberia in Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Japan and China. The Kuala Gula mangrove swamp forest and mudflat are not only important for migratory birds but also for 600 families of fishermen who depend totally on the mangrove forests and marine ecosystem for their livelihood. Many fishermen involved in fishing, cockle farming, aquaculture, shrimp and crabs derive their income from this wetland area. Currently, eco-tourism activities are getting popular in Kuala Gula. Approximately 5,000 visitors came to Kuala Gula last year. The fishermen living in the vicinity of Kuala Gula for the last hundred years have survived within the natural ecosystem of this mangrove swamp forest. The dependence of man on this natural ecosystem will continue for generations to come.
The Kuala Gula Bird Sanctuary is among the well-established bird sanctuaries in the Asian region. The establishment of the bird sanctuary started in the early 70s. The main objective is to protect and conserve the migratory as well as resident bird species. There are about 161 species of birds found in the Kuala Gula Bird Sanctuary comprising 48 species of migratory birds and 118 species of resident or local birds (Appendix 1). The mangrove swamp forest and a long stretched of mudflat beaches provide an excellent feeding ground and nesting habitat for migratory and resident bird species.
The migratory birds such as Eurasian curlew (Numenius arquata), Common redshank (Tringa totanus), Common greenshank (Tringa nebularia), Mongolian plovers (Charadrius mongolus), Pacific goldenplover (Pluvialis fulva), Common sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos), Cattle egret (Bubulcus ibis), Little egret (Egretta garzetta), Gret egret (Casmerodius albus), Black-headed gull (Larus ridibundus), Black-naped tern (Sterna sumatrana) come from as far as Siberia, Japan and China during the migratory season starting from September until April each year. These birds come in large flocks numbering from several hundred to several thousand individuals. The large mudflat area offers a natural feeding ground for these birds. The mudflat or benthos ecosystem is rich with minute organisms and plankton such as small crabs, crustaceans, annelids and copepods. These minute organisms are rich in protein. They provide the nutrients to generate vast amounts of energy the birds require to continue their journey to the south.