Sungai Johor begins in Gunung Gemeruh, ends its 122.7 km journey in the Tebrau Strait and is an important source of freshwater to both Malaysia and Singapore. The river system historically allowed locals and new settlers to travel from the coast to the hills, supporting the growth of new towns along its banks. The river basin makes up 14% of Johor state and within it lie countless natural treasures that we have hardly begun to discover.
Sungai Johor was once home to dugongs (Dugong dugon), a gentle marine mammal that eats only seagrass. They lived and travelled in and around the Sungai Johor estuary and the Tebrau Strait. It is possible that the original population of dugongs from Sungai Johor are the ancestors of today’s small but separate dugong populations off both east and southwest Johor. More well-known are Sungai Johor’s estuarine crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus), many of whom have now crossed the border to live in Singapore’s Sungai Buloh wetland park. These reptiles roam along the mangrove-lined river and its tributaries, building nests among Nipah palms and feeding on countless smaller animals and fish in the waterways.
One of the best views of Sungai Johor can be seen from the Kota Tinggi bridge to Desaru; rich mangroves fringing a wide stretch of water. This is one of Johor’s little appreciated natural assets and a vital lifeline highlighted under IRDA’s PESISIR programme for the documentation and monitoring of Johor’s coasts.