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Sabah's Tabin Wildlife Reserve

All the astonishing diversity and beauty of the Borneo rainforest with its unique wildlife, the tallest trees in the world and a profusion of plants are protected in one of the largest conservation areas in all of Borneo: the Tabin Wildlife Reserve.  Within this 112,000-hectare reserve (twice the size of Singapore), one of the world's rarest and most endangered mammals, the Sumatran Rhinoceros, finds sanctuary. So, too, do Sabah's iconic orangutans, the world's smallest elephant, the Bornean Pygmy Elephant, the wild buffalo and other rare species. Here one can find squirrels and lizard which fly between trees, giant soaring Brahminy Kites, honking Hornbills with their magnificent casques and tiny, jewel-bright forest birds. There are stealthy carnivores like the beautiful Clouded Leopard and the gentle primates including the giant-eyed Slow Loris, the Malaysian Sun Bear and slinky civet cats.


Mud Volcano
One of the most interesting feature of Tabin (and one of which probably contributes towards the diversity of species there), is its mud volcanoes.
 A mud volcano is a strange phenomenon, with warm, silky mud burping and bubbling up from the ground almost continuously. This liquid slowly spreads out from the central core and dries, forming a huge dried pool of pale grey mud.

Scientific tests have shown that the volcanic mud contains hundreds of time more sodium, calcium and trace elements that the surrounding soil. Somewhat remarkably, both animals and birds have learned that this volcanic mud is a rich source of much-needed minerals. Mud volcanoes are therefore excellent spot for viewing the mammals and birds which come feed, especially in the early morning and late afternoon.  The observation tower built near the Lipad Mud Volcano makes a perfect hide; visitor can climb the tower and sit quietly on the top floor in the hope of seeing birds and wildlife.

Wildlife, some endemic only to Borneo, are found in the 120,500 hectares Tabin Wildlife Reserve. Go for jungle-trekking and night safari to look out for rare wildlife

Rock Pool
Tabin is also an important water catchment, criss-crossed with streams, rivers and waterfalls which arise within the reserve. These rivers and pools provide drinking water for many species, as well as being a vital habitat for fish, amphibians and other aquatic life.  Lipad River is a heaven for butterflies which feed on any flowers that happen to be blooming at the river's edge. Closer to the resort, the river spreads out into a wide, deep pool known as the Rock Pool. This is ideal for birdwatchers, especially in the early morning when resident Oriental Darter dive into the water in search of fish, then perch on the nearby rocks to dry their wings. The resort's visitors also use the Rock Pool for cooling dips during the heat of the day, while in the cooler, shady portions of the river, Oriental Small-clawed Otters can often be seen.

When in Tabin, look out for the river carp “Puntius Collinwoodii” recently found to be performing the same behaviour as the Salmon fish, leaping against the current

Jungle Trekking in Tabin Wildlife Reserve
A range of trails and activities introduce guests to the diversity of Tabin. Skilled local guides take visitors on the various trails established near the resort.
The Gibbon Trail is a beautiful walk through the rainforest from the resort to the Lipad

Click to enlarge Tabin Reserve Trail Map

Waterfalls, where the reward for those who have trekked for about 1 ½ hours is a dip in the refreshing pool at the base of the falls. As the name implies, Gibbons have quite often been spotted from this trail, and other mammals including elephants may be seen.

A route to the Lipad Mud Volcano is the Elephant Trail which takes about 1 hour to walk. Research on birds has been done along this trail, evidence of this may still be visible. Three magnificent dipterocarp trees grow about two-thirds of the way along this trail; the guide will be sure to point them out.

The SOS Rhino Trail is  another short trail leading to the Lipad area from the Rhino Base, not far from the Wildlife Department. The Trail leads under a canopy of tall rainforest trees, and as well as seeing different animal footprints, you may be lucky enough to spot a mousedeer, bearded pigs or even elephants.

Night Safari
The night safari in Tabin is an amazing experience for wildlife enthusiasts. At night, the weird creatures come out of the jungle. The Western Tarsier is one of strangest nocturnal primates of the rainforest; it's a little creature that could fit in the palm of your hand. Although is nocturnal, it is difficult to spot because its eyes do not reflect the light of the torch. Another appealing nocturnal primate found in Tabin is the Slow Loris, a ball of thick soft fur with big, meltingly-soft eyes. Other nocturnal species found in Tabin are Clouded Leopard, Leopard Cat, Palm Civet, Mousedeer and flying lemur or Colugo.

The Borneo Pygmy Elephant can be sighted during the season

Sumatran Rhino-a highly endangered and protected animal, are known to exist in Tabin

Tabin Wildlife Resort sits in a narrow valley beside the Lipad River. Minimal disturbance to the environment is the driving force behind its design, with the 20 attractive wooden chalets and boardwalk linking them to the restaurant and reception area built around the tropical forest.
Chalets are ennsuite and equipped with ceiling fans, hot water and comfortable twin beds. Each chalet has a verandah that often prove to be a good place for viewing wildlife, with everything from hornbills to otters, and elephants to monkeys having been seen from the river lodges close to the Lipad River.

Main Lodge

Twin Room

River Lodges

Travel Packages

Sumatra Rhino Conservation

Orangutans at Tabin Wildlife Reserve

Birdwatching at Tabin Wildlife Reserve

The smallest of all rhinos, the Sumatran rhino is rapidly running out of space and could soon be homeless if its forest habitat continues to disappear. At the beginning of the 20th century, the Borneo sub-species of the Sumatra rhinoceros was widespread over the island. By the early 1980s, loss of forest habitat through conversion to palm oil plantations had become another significant threat.
The Borneo Sumatran rhino is now possibly extinct in Sarawak and Kalimantan, with perhaps fewer than 25 surviving in Sabah. Only two areas in Sabah (Tabin and Danum Valley) contain rhino populations which have good prospects of long-term survival with adequate protection and management.

Tabin Wildlife Reserve was established in 1984 as a refuge for Sumatra rhinoceros and Borneo pygmy elephants.  Today Tabin has become the most important site for translocation of orangutan displaced by forest conversion elsewhere. 
Sabah’s Wildlife Department decided to translocate orangutans to Tabin after comparing its fruit trees with those at Sepilok.
Tabin is large enough for them to live in although there is an existing population there. The department is working with NGO Sepilok Orangutan Appeal UK to monitor the translocated animals. Each orangutan is followed individually.

Tabin is a bird-watcher's paradise as the forest attracts an amazingly rich diversity of birds, including rare and endemic species, due to the abundance of food plants here. About 42 indigenous families representing more than 260 species have been recorded here including all the 8 of Sabah’s Hornbill species.Other sought-after species, such as the Blue-headed Pitta, Black-and-crimson Pitta,  Malaysian Blue Flycatcher, Temminck’s Sunbird, Purple-throated Sunbird, Everett's White-eye, Yellow-rumped Flowerpecker, and rarely seen species such as Storm’s Stork, Jambu Fruit Dove, White-fronted Falconet, Great-billed Heron and Giant Pitta have been sighted in Tabin. For more information see Bird’s List