The Significance of Tabin Wildlife Reserve

Amazing biodiversity makes Tabin extremely important and attractive to serious naturalists, scientists, birders, wildlife watchers, insect hunters, herpetology enthusiasts, orchid fanciers, photographers, painters and all other categories of nature lover. The Reserve was gazetted because of it is home to a large number of animal species that have breeding populations there including several endemic to Borneo and/or highly endangered (e.g. the Sumatran rhinoceros).

Tabin wildlife Reserve supports rich and diverse biological resources. The reserve includes several important lowland rainforest habitats that are the basis of extraordinary biodiversity. It includes several contiguous forest reserves that together form a major watershed area. The area is dominated by flora and fauna typical of dipterocarp swamp forest, nipah and mangrove habitats.

Tabin a unique refuge that preserves the type of lowland rainforest ecosystem that was once common in Sabah. The Reserve includes over 120,000 ha. of lowland rainforest in eastern Sabah. Part of the reserve represents original forest but most is secondary forest that was subjected to selective logging until the mid 1980s. Tabin has hilly topography with mountains up to 572 metres in elevation. The reserve is a watershed area from which many rivers flow. Some rivers pass through nipah palms and mangroves at sea level but most flow through surrounding plantations.

At 120,000 ha, Tabin is large enough to provide a year around range for more than 300 elephants and has been able to absorb animals displaced from adjacent plantation complexes. Tabin provides refuge not only for elephants but also for rhinoceros, buffalo, orangutan, clouded leopards, birds and other animals moved from areas cleared for agriculture. It also provides a a refuge for migratory birds and a it is a breeding reservoir for species such as bearded pig and deer that migrate outwards into adjacent forest areas.

Several plant and animal species probably remain to be discovered and identified in Tabin. In the case of animals this especially applies to smaller vertebrates and invertebrates, many of which are inconspicuous, live in burrows or live high in the jungle canopy.

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