Tabin Wildlife Reserve

Country/territory: Malaysia

IBA Criteria met: A1, A2, A3 (2004)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 120,521 ha

Protection status:

Malaysian Nature Society

Site description
(I) Physical CharacteristicsTabin Wildlife Reserve is situated in the eastern part of Sabah, in the middle of the Dent Peninsula. The Core Area of the wildlife reserve consists primarily of virgin lowland dipterocarp forest (8,616 ha) surrounded by an outer zone of secondary forest, which has been selectively logged in the past. There are three Virgin Forest Reserves (VJRs) within the reserve. About 1,000 ha of freshwater swamp forest and 200 ha of mangroves can be found in the northeast part of the wildlife reserve. The area is surrounded by cocoa and oil palm plantation (Maryati Mohamed et al., 1999).The area is characterized by moderate to steep slopes, ranging from 100-300 m asl with Bukit Hatton as the highest point (571 m asl) and flat lowlands in the north-east. The geological formations of Tabin are young sedimentary formations, with at least seven natural mineral sources including three mud volcanoes, which provide salt licks for the large mammals (Mohd. Noh Dalimin and Rosli Ahmad, 1999). Mud volcanoes are also a rare geological feature in parts of eastern Sabah. Main rivers draining this reserve are Sungai Tabin, Sungai Tagas-tagas, Sungai Lipad, Sungai Rimmer and Sungai Lumpongon (Maryati Mohamed et al., 1999).(II) Climatic ConditionsAnnual rainfall is between 2,000-3,000 mm. Heavy rains between October-February coinciding with the north-east monsoon, with shorter wet season between May-July. Dry periods occur between July-September coinciding with the south-west monsoon. Max and min daily temperature is 32oC and 22oC respectively (Rajanathan, 2000).

Key biodiversity
One hundred and eighty-two species of birds have been identified in the reserve. Several endemics, rare, habitat-confined species and at least seven of Sabah's eight hornbill species are found here. The Near Threatened Oriental Darter Anhinga melanogaster has also been recorded here (Rajanathan, 2000). The reserve is crucial for the survival of lowland forest birds.

Non-bird biodiversity: Scientific surveys have shown that Tabin harbour a rich diversity of flora and fauna due to the nature of its habitat (Maryati Mohamed et al., 1999).25 species of freshwater algae in Tabin's water bodies (Sato et al., 1999).65 species of ferns from 19 families were recorded, dominated by the Polypodiaceae family (Suzuki and Magintan, 1999).130 species of ground herbs were collected including 87 species of Angiospermae belonging to 20 families and inclusive of 43 species of pteridophytes (Magintan et al., 1999).95 species of seed plants (Fujii et al., 1999).122 species of ants representing 8 subfamilies and 46 genera (Hashimoto et al., 1999).25 species of dragonflies (Kitagawa et al., 1999).242 species of butterflies from 8 families and 125 genera, which 216 were new for Tabin (Mohd. Fairus Jalil et al., 1999).24 species and morphospecies of termites (Isoptera) (Homathevi and Bignell, 1999).A diversity of leaf-rolling and coprophagous beetles (Sawada and Maryati Mohamed, 1999).24 species of freshwater fishes, dominated by Cyprinidae (Mohd Nadzri Ishak et al., 1999).22 species of amphibians (Jomitin et al., 1999).Three species of chelonians (Shinokawa et al., 2002).15 species of non-volant small mammals including the Tufted Ground Squirrel Rheithrosciurus macrotis, a rare Bornean endemic for Tabin (Jumrafiah Abdul Sukor and Mohd. Suffian Abu Bakar, 1999; Bernard et al., 1999)Presence of large mammals (Jomitin, 1999; Payne, 1986). It is estimated that 7-12 rhinoceroses are found in the reserve. Two elephant herds, ranging from 100-200 individuals, are believed to roam within the same area. The Tembadau exists in fair numbers. The Asian Elephant population in Tabin has extended its range into Sebuku-Sembakung in East Kalimantan (Stuebing, pers. comm.).(I) Globally threatened mammals (IUCN, 2002): CRITICAL: Sumatran Rhinoceros Dicerorhinus sumatrensis; ENDANGERED: Asian Elephant Elephas maximus, Tembadau Bos javanicus, Orang-Utan Pongo pygmaeus, Bornean Treeshrew Tupaia longipes; VULNERABLE: Bare-backed Rousette Rousettus spinalatus, Pig-tailed Macaque Macaca nemestrina, Ranee Mouse Haeromys margarettae, Common Porcupine Hystrix brachyura, Clouded Leopard Neofelis nebulosa, Marbled Cat Pardofelis marmorata, Ridley's Roundleaf Bat Hipposideros ridleyi; NEAR THREATENED: Long-tailed Macaque M. fascicularis, Bornean Gibbon Hylobates muelleri, Pangolin Manis javanica, Thick-spined Porcupine Hystrix crassispinis, Oriental Small-clawed Otter Amblonyx cinereus, Small Woolly Bat Kerivoula intermedia, Least Woolly Bat K. minuta, Naked Bat Cheiromeles torquatus; DATA DEFICIENT: Hose's Langur Presbytis hosei, Malayan Sun Bear Helarctos malayanus, Hairy-nosed Otter Lutra sumatrana(II) Globally threatened reptiles (IUCN, 2002): ENDANGERED: Asian Brown Tortoise Manouria emys; VULNERABLE: Malayan Flat-shelled Turtle Notochelys platynota(III) Globally threatened plants (IUCN, 2002): CRITICAL: Dipterocarpus kunstleri, Hopea beccariana, H. ferruginea, H. nervosa, H. sangal, Parashorea malaanonan, Shorea acuminatissima, S. guiso, S. hopeifolia, S. smithiana, S. superba, S. symingtonii; ENDANGERED: Dryobalanops beccarii, D. lanceolata, Hopea pierrei, Shorea agami, S. bracteolata, S. faguetiana, S. leprosula, S. pauciflora; VULNERABLE: Eusideroxylon zwageri, Cynometra inaequifolia, Knema kostermansiana; NEAR THREATENED: Horsfieldia crassifolia; LOWER RISK/conservation dependent: Koompassia excelsa

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Tabin Wildlife Reserve. Downloaded from on 21/01/2021.