Location and description
The World Wildlife Fund has divided Borneo into seven ecoregions: five areas of lowland forest, the central Borneo montane rain forests and the Kinabalu montane alpine meadows. The lowlands are distinguished by climate (as the eastern side of the island is drier) or separated by the large rivers Kapuas and Barito, which prevent animals and reptiles from spreading freely around the island. The lowland ecoregions are: the large areas of peat swamp forest, the Kerangas heath forest, freshwater swamp forests of the south of the island, and mangroves on the coast. The Borneo lowland rain forests described in this article consist of all lowland areas not clearly in one of the above categories. They cover an area of about 165,100 square miles (427,500 km2), parts of which lie in all the political territories of the island: Kalimantan (Indonesia), Sarawak and Sabah (Malaysia) and Brunei.
Lowland Borneo has a stable climate, with monthly rainfall exceeding 8 inches throughout the year and a temperature range of more than 18°C.
During the Pleistocene glacial epoch, all of Borneo, Java, Sumatra, and mainland Indochina were part of the same landmass. This allowed plants and animals to migrate from one region to the next. Now Borneo is separated from the Malay Peninsula and the other islands, but still shares much of the same plant and animal diversity, while less of the Borneo wildlife is to be found further east in Sulawesi.
The lowlands of Borneo are home to the richest rainforest in the world. The climate provides an ideal growing environment for approximately 10,000 species of plant (more than in the whole continent of Africa). Among these are some 2,000 orchids and 3,000 trees, including 267 Dipterocarpaceae tropical rainforest trees, of which 155 are endemic to Borneo. This makes the island the center of the world’s diversity for dipterocarps. Plants include five species of the strong-smelling parasite Rafflesia, one of which, Rafflesia arnoldii, has flowers over a metre wide, making it the world’s largest flower. The limestone uplands of the Sangkulirang Peninsula and Sarawak support their own particular plant communities, as do the Labi Hills on the Brunei-Sarawak border.
The wildlife of this ecoregion consists of a large number of forest animals ranging from the world’s smallest squirrel, the least pygmy squirrel, to the largest land mammal in Asia, the Asian elephant. It includes the critically endangered Sumatran rhinoceros, the endangered and iconic Bornean orangutan, twelve other species of primate, bearded pigs and Bornean yellow muntjac deer. The primates of Borneo are: three apes (Bornean orangutan, Müller’s Bornean gibbon and Bornean white-bearded gibbon), five langurs, the southern pig-tailed macaque, the long-tailed macaque, Horsfield’s tarsier (Tarsius bancanus), the Sunda slow loris (Nycticebus coucang) and the endangered proboscis monkey (Nasalis larvatus). There are no tigers on Borneo; carnivores include the endangered clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa), the sun bear (Elarctos malayanus), the otter civet (Cynogale bennettii), and several other mustelids and viverrids.
There are 664 species of birds being recorded across the state. For example, there are 6 types of Trogons, 8 types of Broadbills, 8 types of Hornbills, 10 types of Pittas, 12 types of Kingfishers, 21 types of Woodpeckers, 30 types of Flowerpeckers, 8 types of Spiderhunters, and 10 types of Sunbirds. Among all these, there are also 52 types of endemic bird species. Bird watchers are often given surprises and remarkable memories by the variety of bird species.
Tabin Wildlife Reserve is a rainforest reserve located on the eastern part of Sabah,
Malaysian Borneo. It is a place of natural beauty, a travel destination favoured not only by those who wish to escape the hustle of everyday life, but also by bird-watchers who delight in observing the rare and exotic birds that make Tabin their home.
Occupying a large part of the peninsular forming the northern headland of Darvel Bay, the enourmous Tabin Wildlife Reserve comprises an area of approximately 120,500 hectres in the centre of the Dent Peninsular, north-east of Lahad Datu town, south of the lower reaches of the Segama River and north of the Silabukan Forest Reserve. It can be reached by a gravel road, in about an hour from Lahad Datu.
Home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, Tabin was declared as a wildlife reserve in 1984 to
preserve and protect the large number of animals inhabiting its forest, several of which are highly endangered and only found in Borneo.
The Core Area of Tabin, lying in the heart of the Reserve, gives visitors a chance of witnessing an undisturbed primary lowland rainforest and its residents. Also, this is the best place to watch wild birds, especially an endemic bird species in Borneo named Bornean Falconet, formally known as White-fronted Falconet, it is also known as the world’s smallest raptor.
The three largest land mammals: the Borneo Pymy Elephant, the Sumatran Rhino and the Tembadau can all be found within Tabin, as are nine species of protected primate, three species of protected cats, and many smaller species and insects. Also a bird-watcher’s paradise, Tabin is inhabited by 42 families representing 220 species such as the White-crowned Hornbill, Chestnut-capped Thrush, Thick-bellied Flowerpecker, Black-crowned Pitta, Finsch’s Bulbul and Storm’s Stork. A large number of tropical plants thrive in the reserve, some known for their medical and therapeutic properties, while many others remain to be discovered and researched upon.
Tabin Wildlife Reserve has several mud volcanoes and salt-water springs that are high in minerals of importance to wildlife. These sites are frequented by animals and birds for their mineral intake, making the mud volcanoes ideal locations to view wildlife or find evidence of their visits. The reserve is also criss-crossed by many rivers and springs, each one an appealing resting point for visitors to refresh and cool off.
With such an impressive range of nature-based resources complemented by modern-day facilities, it is no wonder that Tabin has gained a reputation as an outstanding nature and eco-tourism destination, winning the Malaysia Tourism Awards as the Most Promising Attraction.