On November 16, 1999, the lower Kinabatangan was announced as a Gift to the Earth by the Chief Minister of Sabah during the WWF Annual Conference held in Kota Kinabalu.
The lower rive basin of the 560 km long Kinabatangan River covers almost 4,000 square kilometres of the State of Sabah in north-east Borneo. It is one of the richest ecosystems on earth, with shallow freshwater lakes, open swamps and forests, dotted with sandstone and limestone hills. Large area are flooded during the rainy season.
A Chain of Flood Plain Forests
The mangrove swamps fringing the mouth of the river protect the coast from erosion and valueable nursery grounds for replenishing marine resources. To the west, a vast area of commercial forest reserve is testing ground for sustainable forest management. Much of intervening floodplain is covered by oil palm plantations. The remaining pockets of fresh water swamp forest, lowland riverine forest and dryland forests are home to some of the largest and most diverse concentrations of wildlife species in Borneo, making the lower Kinabatangan an increasing sought after by visitors.
Kinabatangan's Natural Capital..
The range of biodiversity in the Lower Kinabatangan surpasses that of every other site in Malaysia. It is one of the few places in the WORLD where ten primate species can be found, as well as some 50 mammals an 200 bird species.
The rich flood plain habitats are home to Orang utan, Proboscis monkey, Asian elephant, the almost extinct Sumatran rhino, the globally endangered Storm's stork, the rare Oriental darter and eight species of hornbill. Other species include freshwater ray, river shark until recently thought to be extinct, the Estuarine crocodile and Monitor lizard.
Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary
Since the 1970's, studies have identified critical sites which are rich in wildlife and need protection. Fortunately today, people are recognising the value of the lower Kinabatangan; for its natural beauty and its role in supporting diverse life. The government is now in the process of establishing the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary.
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