International Journal of Administration and Governance, 1(4) Special 2015, Pages: 92-97 IWNEST PUBLISHER International Journal of Administration and Governance (ISSN 2077-4486) Journal home page: http://www.iwnest.com/AACE/ Potential of Entomotourism at Taman Negara Johor Endau Rompin 1M. Shafiq Hamdin, 1Maryati Mohamed, 2Lili Tokiman 1 Fakulti Sains, Teknologi dan Pembangunan Insan, Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia (UTHM), 86400 Parit Raja Batu Pahat Johor, Malaysia. 2 Perbadanan Taman Negara Johor, Aras 1, Bangunan Dato' Mohamad Saleh Perang, Kota Iskandar, 79576 Nusajaya, Johor, Malaysia ARTICLE INFO Article history: Received 23 Feb 2015 Accepted 6 March 2015 Available online 28 March 2015 Keywords: Entomotourism, Taman Negara Johor, Endau Rompin, Ant ABSTRACT Background: The study showed that insects have potential as tourism product at Taman Negara Johor Endau Rompin (TNJER). It also indicated that insect tourism or now named entomotourism could further be focused on specific insect group, and in this case, the ant (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Objective: Firstly, to identify most reliable and common insect groups that could be found in TNJER and determine the focus group; and secondly, to survey what ecological information of this focus group is of interest to tourists. Results: Ant was found to be the most common insect group followed by termites and flies. Response from 117 visitors of TNJER showed that they were interested to know about morphological variations, communication system, defense and foraging behavior of ant. The ant Camponotus gigas was selected as the best icon to be used to promote entomotourism at TNJER. Conclusion: Generally, insect tourism has potential in TNJER and ants could be promoted as a focus group. Besides increasing tourism, using insects as new tourism product could eventually increase level of awareness among people of the importance for conservation of insects. © 2015 IWNEST Publisher All rights reserved. To Cite This Article: M. Shafiq Hamdin, Maryati Mohamed, Lili Tokiman., Potential of Entomotourism at Taman Negara Johor Endau Rompin. Int. J. Adm. Gov., 1(4), 92-97, 2015 INTRODUCTION Entomotourism is part of nature based tourism that uses insect as their product [1, 2]. Malaysian forests, home to countless population of insects  could be a good nature tourism destination. This study tries to bring out the potential of insect as a new tourism product and ant as the focus group in the lowland forest of Taman Negara Johor Endau Rompin (TNJER). Based on previous studies, ant was proven to be common and abundantly found in the forest [3, 4, 5, 6]. The uniqueness of insect morphology and behavior make insects good attraction to tourists as mention by Jaafar et al., 2010 . They found firefly brings in tourists to Kuala Selangor and at the same time increases the local’s economy. Also, Butterfly Park as a profitable business is built as family leisure place . Actually, development of entomotourism industry in Malaysia had already started some time ago and without us realizing was educating the public on conservation. As such, raising awareness of insects should be included as an objective in entomotourism activities and considered as an effort to support conservation . Methodology: Study sites: Three study sites at TNJER, Peta were selected (Figure 1). The national park about 80,000 hectares, not only functions as tourism destination but, also as environmental education center. All trails are used by visitors and tourists for jungle tracking and night walk activities. Locations of these trails are summarized in Table 1. Corresponding Author: Muhammad Shafiq Hamdin, Fakulti Sains, Teknologi dan Pembangunan Insan, Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia (UTHM), Beg Berkunci 101, 86400 Parit Raja Batu Pahat Johor, Malaysia E-mail: [email protected] / +6017-7542593). 93 M. Shafiq Hamdin et al, 2015 International Journal of Administration and Governance, 1(4) Special 2015, Pages: 92-97 Fig. 1: A, B and C were the three study sites at Taman Negara Johor Endau Rompin, Peta . Table 1: Locations and Coordinates of Study Sites Plot Location A Etnobotany Park, Visitor Complex Coordinate N 02º31.777’ E 103º24.830’ B Temekong, NERC N 02º31.677’ E 103º24.071’ C Pacau, Kuala Jasin N 02º31.663’ E 103º22.074’ Two methods were employed in this study. Firstly, field observations were carried out on insect groups that commonly occurred and could be reliably seen. From data obtained and analyzed, the insect focus group was determined. Secondly, a survey was carried out on visitors/tourists to enquire on what kinds of ecological information they would want to know about the focus insect group, the ant. In the first phase, field observations were carried out on 16 groups of insects including ants, termites, wasp and bees, butterflies, moths, flies, mosquitos, beetles, bugs, leafhopper and cicadas, cockroaches, mantids, stick insects, crickets, grasshoppers, and lastly dragonflies. The observations and specimen collections were carried out from February to June 2014. Using point count method , a transect of 200 m long was used at each trail respectively (Figure 2). Points were marked at intervals of 20 m apart. At each point of the segments duration of 10 minutes was provided to observe presence of insects around the point. All observations on kinds of insects found were recorded and analyzed. Fig. 2: Example of transect During the second phase, a survey was carried out among guests of TNJER. Respondents were asked about their interest on ant and the potential of ant as entomotourism product. The three parts of the questionnaires were (i) respondent profile, (ii) respondent’s experience in the forest and (iii) ecological information on ant that would interest them. RESULT AND DISCUSSION 94 M. Shafiq Hamdin et al, 2015 International Journal of Administration and Governance, 1(4) Special 2015, Pages: 92-97 Occurrence of Insect Groups: From data collected, the insect group, ant, was ranked top; being most commonly observed, occurring in relatively large number. This is followed by termites and flies (Table 2) for most of the study sites. Termites could be found more in less open areas with high relative humidity  (Table 3). Besides, flies were found in large number at Ethnobotany trail and Temekong trail, as both sites have number of fruit trees. Table 2: Ranking of abundance of insect groups from high to low at three trails in Taman Negara Johor Endau Rompin Ranking Ethnobotany Temekong Pacau 1 Ant Ant Ant 2 Termite Termite Mosquito 3 Fly Fly Butterfly Table 3: Average Ecological Parameter for Each Study Sites Plot Location Sea Level (m) A Ethnobotany Trail 45 Temperature (ºC) 25.6 Light Intensity (lux) Air Humidity (RH%) 430 86.3 B Temekong 37 24.8 299 93.5 C Pacau 32 26.0 780 76.7 Focus Group and Survey on Interests of Visitors: From analyses on occurrence of insect groups, ant was the most frequently encountered in TNJER forest. At all trails and on all occasions ants could be reliably seen and collected. In this study ant was selected as the focus group. Subsequently, the questionnaire survey was focused on ant’s ecology and potential of entomotourism. For the Experience in the Forest section, 44% of respondents declared having been into the forest at least once or twice and the rest of 56%, for more than three times. As for reasons why they went into the forest, half of respondents stated as for holidays (Figure 3). This indicated that generally visitors/tourists coming to TNJER did have experience and were familiar with a lowland forest ecosystem. Fig. 3: Reasons why respondents went into forest. The next question asked was, what their experience with ant in the forest was. 68% stated they tried to see the behavior of ant or the colony. Besides, 89% of respondents also agreed that ant group was easier to be found. For Ant’s Ecological Knowledge section, 73 of the 117 (62%) respondents wanted to know about ants’ communication system, 60 or 51.1% about defense, 53 or 45.3% about morphology and 49 or 42% about foraging behavior. Respondent gave more than one requests on ecological information they would like to know about ants. These are ranked as in Figure 4. 95 M. Shafiq Hamdin et al, 2015 International Journal of Administration and Governance, 1(4) Special 2015, Pages: 92-97 Fig. 4: Ranked information needed by respondents Respondents were also requested to state their thought on the main roles played by ants in a forest and their view on ant. These are ranked in Table 4. Table 4: Opinion on main role played by ant and views on ants in forest ecosystem. No Comments 1. Involve in ecosystem balance % 31.34 2. A good decomposer 13.43 3. Need to conserve for the next generation 11.94 4. Shows example of good cooperation 7.46 5. One component of biodiversity 5.97 6. Interesting to study 5.97 7. Forms part of food chain 5.97 8. Eat human food wastes 4.48 9. Rare ants need to be protected 4.48 10. Develop an Ant’s Park 2.99 11. Define forest age 1.49 12. Bio-control agent 1.49 13. A good bio-indicator of forest diversity/health 1.49 14. Potential product for tourism 1.49 TOTAL 100.00 It is apparent from the table that visitors/tourists at TNJER were receptive to ants as to be able to request for information that would satisfy their curiosity on ants. They were also able to give opinion on ant’s role in a lowland forest tropical ecosystem such as TNJER. Since generally visitors/tourists that come to specific destination such as TNJER were familiar with the forest ecosystem, it was not a surprise to see this ability and response among the visitors/tourists. 96 M. Shafiq Hamdin et al, 2015 International Journal of Administration and Governance, 1(4) Special 2015, Pages: 92-97 Conclusion: Although, this maybe an initial version of a more comprehensive study, the results clearly showed that insect is a potential product for nature tourism. The insects as an organism group has taxonomic groupings, the most easily recognizable being the taxon, order. There are many orders some of which are more common than others. In this study it was shown that the more commonly occurring orders of insects found in a lowland tropical rainforest such as TNJER are the ants (order : Hymenoptera), flies (order: Diptera), termites (order: Blattodea) and so forth. Thus, when promoting insects in entomotourism not all insects maybe relevantly promoted. In line with the government’s agenda to produce new tourisms icon, further analysis of observation and collection of insects in three trails of TNJER indicated that the ants from order Hymenoptera, family Formicidae was the most commonly encountered and most abundantly present. Since one characteristic of nature tourism product is reliability in sighting, this makes ant as a potentially good product. In addition ant also has other good characteristics such as morphologically, having unique characters; generally safe to human; play important roles in environment; and some, closely associated with people and culture. Zooming down to the species level, it was easy to note that the giant forest ant, Camponotus gigas being comparatively the largest in size, could be adopted as the icon for entomotourism. As from the perception of visitors/tourist of TNJER, it was interesting to note of their awareness and interest on insects as tourism attraction. It was heartening to acknowledge of their interest to know more of ant’s ecological traits. All these findings indicated that generally insects in the lowland forest tropical ecosystem do have potential to be promoted as a new tourism product. Among the insect groups, ants showed the highest reliability for sighting. And for this group, further study on behavior and other ecological roles played by them in a lowland ecosystem may provide more information that could satisfy visitors’ interest in entomotourism. Finally, increasing human awareness on insect’s potential in an industry like tourism may enlighten people on its usefulness. This provides a contradicting view to the general perception that all insects are harmful and bringing damage human properties and affected negatively human welfare. Once insects could be established as useful organisms, its conservation could be justified more easily; enabling Malaysia to fulfill its obligation in conserving and using sustainably the biodiversity of the nation, as required by the Convention on Biological Diversity. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Thanks to Center for Graduate Studies, Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia for funding provided to participate at National Postgraduate Conference on Tourism, Public Administration & Governance 2015. Also to Graduate Researcher Incentive Grant (GIPS), and contract grant C030 (Biodiversity of Fauna of TNJER) for funding this research. Thanks also to Johor National Park Cooperation (PTNJ) for the facilities provided during the study. REFERENCES  Maryati Mohamed, 2000. Entotourism. Proc. on 1st Sabah Tourism Symposium. 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