Kulamba Wildlife Reserve

Year of compilation: 2003

Site description (baseline)
(I) Physical CharacteristicsKulamba Wildlife Reserve lies between Dewhurst Bay and the lower Sungai Segama, on the north coast of the Dent Peninsula in eastern Sabah. The reserve is flat with several isolated, locally steep hills rising to about 70 m asl in the south and middle region. Much of the reserve is swampy, with acidic soils, and peat in some parts.(II) Climatic ConditionsThe climate is hot and humid, with a mean daily maximum temperature of about 32oC. Average annual rainfall is about 3,050 mm. The December-January period has the highest rainfall, with a lesser peak in May-June (Payne, 1985).

Key biodiversity
A survey in April 1984 recorded 59 resident bird species (Payne, 1985). The reserve's mixture of wetland and dry lowland forest and its contiguity with the Kinabatangan floodplains provides an important habitat for several resident (and presumably migrants too) globally threatened waterbirds and lowland specialist such as the Wrinkled Hornbill Rhyticeros corrugatus. Other Near Threatened species recorded is the Oriental Darter Anhinga melanogaster.

Non-bird biodiversity: Eighteen species of mammals have been reported inhabiting the reserve (Payne, 1985). (I) Globally threatened mammals (IUCN, 2002): ENDANGERED: Tembadau Bos javanicus, Proboscis Monkey Nasalis larvatus; VULNERABLE: [Marbled Cat Pardofelis marmorata]; NEAR THREATENED: Bornean Gibbon Hylobates muelleri, Long-tailed Macaque Macaca fascicularis; DATA DEFICIENT: Malayan Sun Bear Helarctos malayanus(II) Globally threatened reptiles (IUCN, 2002): No information.(III) Globally threatened plants (IUCN, 2002): CRITICAL: Dipterocarpus validus; ENDANGERED: Shorea leprosula; VULNERABLE: Cynometra inaequifolia, Aquilaria malaccensisNote: [ ] = unconfirmed record.

Habitat and land use
Due to its soil type, Kulamba supports few plant species. Several vegetation types have been identified with mixed swamp forest (open swamp forest and closed-canopy swamp forest) and dryland forest (primary dipterocarp forest) dominating the landscape. Nipah, riverine, butabuta, beach and grassland formations can be found in smaller pockets.The open swamp forest is dominated by with thick scrub and grasses, and frequently flooded. Large tree species include Terminalia sp.The closed-canopy swamp forest is more heterogenous and diverse plant community than the previous habitat, with a more complete tree cover. Prominent tree species Campnosperma auriculata, Alstonia spatulata, Homalanthus populneus, Baccaurea stipulata, Planchonia valida, Memecylon laevigatum, Pternandra caerulescens and Licuala sp.. In some areas, large wide-crowned trees dominate, while elsewhere the forest canopy consists mainly of small-crowned, widely-spaced trees. In parts, notably to the east of Sungai Kapis, Campnosperma auriculata is the most abundant tree and the ground is dominated by Hypolytrum nemorum. Such forest appears to be frequently inundated, depending on the tide and on rainfall.Dryland forest occurs on both flat land and on steep hills in the centre and south of the reserve. Tree species found include Dipterocarpus caudiferus, D. validus, Shorea leprosula, Vatica oblongifolia, Cymnometra inaequifolia, Sindora sp., Irvingia malayana and Aquilaria malaccensis.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Oil palm, coconut, rubber and rattan plantations are being developed at a fast rate to the south, west and south-west of the reserve.

Protected areas
Kulamba was gazetted on March 1984 as a Wildlife Reserve under the Forests (Amendment) Enactment 1984. The reserve is in part contiguous with Terusan Kinabatangan Mangrove Forest Reserve (40,471 ha) to the west and Kuala Segama and Kuala Maruap Mangrove Forest Reserve (23,993 ha) to the east.The northern boundary of the reserve follows the coastline facing the Sulu Sea. The eastern boundary lies west of Sungai Manalunan and roughly follows the boundary between dryland and seasonally swampy forest with permanent coastal swamp forest. The southern boundary follows the upper reaches of Sungai Manalunan and a line bearing 227o 30', which leads to the most southerly point of the reserve. The southern half of the western boundary approximately follows the boundary between dryland and swampy forest. The northern half of the western boundary follows approximately follows the boundary between coastal swamp forest with dryland and seasonally swampy forest. The reserve is classified as an IUCN Category VI protected area.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Kulamba Wildlife Reserve. Downloaded from on 30/05/2023.