Research & Conservation - Habitats in Tabin Wildlife Reserve

Preserve the habitats and you preserve the species.

That is one of the reasons why Tabin is so vitally important!

Tabin represents an ecotype about which the WWF (2001a) says:

“Borneo lowland rain forests… are the richest rain forests in the world… If the current trend of habitat destruction continues, there will be no remaining lowland forests in Borneo by 2010.” [unless Tabin and other similar refuges are gazetted and maintained: author’s note].

There is a considerable amount of publicity concerning the larger, more easily anthropomorphised endangered species of the world and such species are the subject of endlessly fascinating programming from sources such as National Geography, Discovery, Animal Planet.

The fact remains, however, that the reason for the perilous state of so many such species is habitat loss. To be sure, hunting pressure and pollution are major factors in the world’s declining biodiversity but the sheer enormity of habitat destruction almost makes these factors pale into insignificance in an land mass such as Borneo. The author was once told by a high official in the Sabah Forestry Department that there was over seven million hectares of virgin jungle in Sabah before WW2 and there is less than 300,000 hectares left today. The numbers may be approximate but anyone who has observed the situation for the past 30 years has witnessed the vast rate at which jungle has been replaced by oil palms along the highways and byways of Borneo. In a place with the huge biodiversity of Borneo the need for habitat preservation and conservation is especially poignant.

We do not have such “poster species” as the Tiger but we do have a host less publicised and equally endangered species. Of course the highly endangered Sumatran rhinoceros is getting deserved emphasis and the Asian elephant and orangutans are perennial favourites but Tabin is also an important refuge for sun bears, clouded leopards, spotted cats, leopard cats, gibbons, civets, tarsiers, langurs, lorises, tembadau, Bornean bristleheads, pheasants and a staggering array of potentially endangered plant and animal species; some not yet even known to science.

Research and conservation concerning Tabin habitats is at an early stage. You, as a visitor to Tabin, can help to advance this cause.