Tabin Wildlife Reserve

All the astonishing diversity and beauty of the Borneo rainforest with its unique wildlife and the tallest trees in the world are protected in the Tabin Wildlife Reserve.

Highlights

  • Treks through lush rainforest
  • Discover Tabin’s Lipad Mud Volcano, created by the eruption of mud
  • Witness Borneo’s nocturnal wildlife in their natural habit
  • Spend a night at the Observation Tower at Mud Vulcano

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 Tabin 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 Elephants, 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 it 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 gray 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; the visitor can climb the tower and sit quietly on the top floor in the hope of seeing birds and wildlife.

 

Lipad River and Rock Pool

Tabin is also an important water catchment, crisscrossed 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.

 

Night Safari

The night safari in Tabin Wildlife Reserve 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.

 

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 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 mouse-deer, bearded pigs or even elephants.

HOW TO GET THERE

Lahad Datu is the nearest airport to Tabin Wildlife Reserve. Daily flights connect Kota Kinabalu to Lahad Datu. Flight duration is about 1 hour.

Tabin is one hour from the airport ( part of it on gravel road), and four hours from Sandakan and Tawau.
Scheduled land transfers are from Lahad Datu at 08.30hrs and 12.00hrs & from Tabin at 13.30hrs.

BEST TIME TO TRAVEL

Tabin Wildlife Reserve can be visited all year round. As it is situated near the equator, Tabin has tropical rainforest climate in which there is no dry season. It is typically hot and wet throughout the year and rainfall is both heavy and frequent. One day in an equatorial climate can be very similar to the next.

ACCOMMODATION

Tabin Wildlife Resort

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.

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