Tempasuk plains

Country/territory: Malaysia

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

Area: 40,000 ha

Protection status:

Malaysian Nature Society

Site description
(I) Physical CharacteristicsTempasuk Plain is located on the north-west coast of Sabah, stretching from Kota Belud town in the south to Rampayang Laut in the north. The plain is primarily a freshwater wetland bisected by a major road comprising of four main areas;On the eastern side of the road, an area of low wet swamp land with open pools, bordered by a narrow strip of swamp forest along the northern boundary of the Kota Belud Bird Sanctuary (hereafter Bird Sanctuary), and backed by low hills;On the western side, an open sandy foreshore backed by dunes leads into grazed grassland with wet areas and seasonal pools. A small area of mangrove occurs near Kuala Tempasuk;The southern third is taken up with cultivation, mainly wet rice and small settlements. Two large rivers run through the area forming the northern and southern boundaries of the existing Bird Sanctuary. The northern river is lined with fairly extensive riverine forest.The fourth area to the north of Sungai Kawang-Kawang is little known. From Kampung Rampayan Laut for about 5 km upriver mangrove forest predominates (ca. 1,518 ha in 1978), grading into nipa swamp backed by a small area of lowland dipterocarp forest.The Bird Sanctuary was established within the area in 1960, comprising of ca. 12,200 ha. Run-off from the low hills and the foothills of Gunung Kinabalu supplies many small streams and the two large rivers. Grassland floods temporarily, wet rice water levels artificially maintained, swamp probably inundated. The wetland conditions of Tempasuk Plain are determined primarily by local rainfall with the exception of the wet rice fields.(II) Climatic ConditionsAnnual average rainfall is 2,260 mm. Monthly rainfall is between 200-400 mm in June and 100-200 mm in December. The dry season occurs from November-March while the wet from May-September. Annual average temperature range 23-30oC (DWNP, 1987).

Key biodiversity
The wetland is an important site for wintering more than 50 waterbird species including several large globally threatened waterbirds (DWNP, 1987; Beadle and Whittaker, 1985; Payne and Parish, 1985). High numbers of wintering white egrets Egretta spp., up to 5,000 have been recorded (Lansdown, 1986, 1987, 1989a, 1989b). The Near Threatened Oriental Darter Anhinga melanogaster, Black-headed Ibis Threskiornis melanocephalus and Malaysian Plover Charadrius peronii have also been sighted (Sheldon et al., 2001).

Non-bird biodiversity: (I) Globally threatened mammals (IUCN, 2002): ENDANGERED: Proboscis Monkey Nasalis larvatus; NEAR THREATENED: Oriental Small-clawed Otter Amblonyx cinereus(II) Globally threatened reptiles (IUCN, 2002): No information.(III) Globally threatened plants (IUCN, 2002): No information.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Tempasuk plains. Downloaded from on 30/09/2020.