Borneo home to a substantial numbers of virgin rainforest, Sabah respectively is a place that holds the largest potential for new discoveries of wildlife and fauna much of which are still remains unexplored. Its tropical climate provide an ideal living and shelter for a wide variety of species to thrive.
Sabah is estimated to home to around 222 mammals, of which 44 are endemic to Borneo island. Sabah rainforest are some of the oldest in the world providing shelter to remarkable creatures like the proboscis monkey, clouded leopard and some endangered species like the Borneo pygmy elephant, sun bear and Sumatran rhino. Undoubtedly, chances to see wildlife in Sabah is higher than the other states in Malaysia. Discover our top 5 most favorite wildlife of Sabah and places to spot them.
Top 5 wildlife to experience in Sabah
Borneo Pygmy Elephant thrives the east coast rainforests of Sabah, although they are subspecies of the elephants in the mainland Asia, yet their behavior and physical appearance are different from the Asian Elephant. Being much smaller than their Asian counterpart, Borneo elephant has shorter trunk, a chubby and baby-ish face with a long tail almost reaching to the ground. The male Borneo elephants has straighter tusks and grows to a height of less than 2.5 meters. These gentle mammal inhabits the lowland forest of Sabah, most commonly seen around the Lower Kinabatangan floodplain. Discover them by staying a couple of nights down at the eco-lodges at Kinabatangan, where river safari cruises the Lower Kinabatangan river a chance for wildlife sightings.
Our top 2 on the list is a highly intelligent primate that is native to the island of Borneo, the Borneo Orangutan. This intelligent great ape has a well habitual patterns in the wild with an advanced tool making skills such as weaving leaves to make an umbrella for themselves when they know rain is coming, and they able to learn sign language. Orangutan spend most of their time on trees, and this way of living well-suited with their extensive arm span, as an adult male arms could reach up to 2 meters long. Orangutans sleep in a nest made from leafy branches aloft on trees, their main diet are mostly fruits and leaves though at times they would also consume tree barks and insects. Compare to other apes, orangutan are solitary primates. Male orangutan are loners, when they move through the forest canopy they would make lots howling call to help them stay off each others path. Best place to encounter with these arboreal primate, is at Danum Valley Conservation Area. There are many options of nature trails and night drives that gives you the rainforest experience, learning more about the habitats of these orangutan.
Next on our list is one of the largest species of monkeys, the proboscis monkey well-known for their distinguished large nose believe to attract the female proboscis monkeys. Proboscis monkey is an endemic to Borneo, naturally lives along rivers, with their webbed feet is not surprisingly that they are one of the best swimmers among the primates and can swim up to 20 meters underwater. Proboscis Monkeys live in groups of 10 to 30, the males will gather a harem of several females for socializing and mating. Feeding mostly on young leaves, mangrove shoots, sometimes on insects and fruits, these colobine monkeys have a unique digestive system enabling them to neutralise toxins from certain leaves eaten. The proboscis monkey is one of the endangered animals in Borneo, however potential sightings of these monkeys are at the coastal area of Kota Kinabalu, Kota Belud and Beaufort and some small population live in the east coast of Sabah at the Kinabatangan river.
Slow loris known for their cute and adorable look is a native Borneo animal, being nocturnal in nature slow loris are omnivores feeds on nectar, insects, fruits and as well tree gum. One of the intriguing feature of this primate is its toxic bite, which is used as a protection from predators. Slow loris gets the toxin from the gland on their arm that is mixed with their saliva. The slow motion of a slow loris a deliberate, as they can be fast when they wanted to with an extreme burst of speed when needed. Slow loris are solitary animal, they live and hunt alone and they will mark their areas with their scent to keep others away. Slow loris can freeze in one place for hours in search of prey. Most slow loris can be found on the lowland rainforest, both in the east and west coast of Sabah, such as Crocker Range, Maliau Basin and Danum Valley are among best location to spot them on a night walk.
The clouded leopard is a wild cat found exclusively in Borneo with an average weight between 12 to 26 kilograms, it is known as the largest cat in Borneo. The clouded leopards are highly solitary, they hunts on the ground and are efficient climbers a trait made them able to pound on their prey. Fully grown adult clouded leopards would have their canine reach up to 5 centimeters long, which is the longest among the feline species. This fearsome predator feeds on deers, monkeys and pigs. So far sightings of these largest feline have been recorded in Danum Valley and Tabin wildlife reserve, on nature trails and the dusk drive safari. Both these places offer lodging and activities for good potential wildlife sightings.