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The geographical isolation of Borneo means that it is home to some of the world’s most unique and wonderful wildlife. Most famous for being home to our furry cousin, the orangutan, you’ll also find many other exotic animals such as proboscis monkeys, pygmy elephants, Irrawaddy dolphins, turtles and a whole host of tropical birds and lizards.
Unfortunately, these creatures are often seen as lucrative tourist entertainment, but we are confident that this can be changed – let’s do it together!
We want to ensure that your Borneo holiday is exciting and fulfilling, but that it also has a positive impact on the animals that live there. So if you want to do your bit for wildlife, find out about some of the creatures you can encounter in Borneo and discover a few handy tips on how to be an animal-friendly traveller while you’re there, read on…
Where you can see Borneo wildlife
Located in the Northern state of Sabah, a boat ride along the Kinabatangan River offers a fantastic way to get up close and personal with Borneo wildlife yet with minimal impact. From humid jungle to limestone caves to mangrove swamps, the river links many diverse habitats which contain the likes of pygmy elephants, orangutans, proboscis monkeys, gibbons, brilliantly coloured birds and many other creatures.
Gunung Mulu National Park (UNESCO)
If cute and fluffy isn’t really your thing, then a trip to Gunung Mulu National Park might be more up your street. Home to the largest known cave network in the world, and in turn home to millions of bats, witnessing these remarkable animals exit the caves at dusk to hunt for food truly is a fascinating sight. Many a rare species, including the squat frog and steam toad (which exist only within the park), also reside within this UNESCO Heritage Site. The Malaysian sun bear (the only bear species in South East Asia), as well as macaques and gibbon monkeys, also call this national park their home.
Danum Valley Conservation Area & Tabin Wildlife Reserve
The main attraction of Borneo for animal lovers is down to one amazing animal alone – the orangutan. A fantastic spot for observing them in the wild, as well as a prime location for conservation research initiatives, is the Danum Valley Conservation Area.
Covering 438 sq. km of tropical wilderness in eastern Sabah, this beautiful rainforest is beautiful beyond imagination and contains wildlife in every possible spot. Equally, the nearby Tabin Wildlife Reserve is also home to clouded leopards, Bornean elephants and rhinoceros, otters, deer and civets. It’s well worth devoting a few days to exploring the surrounding Borneo wildlife while you’re in the area.
Animal welfare in Borneo
No trip to Borneo would be complete without seeing the famous, and sadly now critically endangered, orangutans. Much of their wild habitat has been lost in recent years due to deforestation for palm oil, so the sanctuaries that we take you to in Sabah and Sarawak play an incredibly important role in ensuring these unique creatures are able to exist for generations to come. In Borneo, there are opportunities to touch or hold the animals, however, we strongly advise against this for a number of reasons. Firstly, as we are closely genetically-related to orangutans and they have not been exposed to many European diseases, it puts the creatures at risk of becoming seriously ill. On top of this, close contact with tourists also encourages the animals to become too accustomed to human interaction and threatens their ability to adapt and survive once they are released into the wild.
Conservation projects in Borneo
We are proud to support a local project in each of our destinations, that we raise money for with your help. Every booking you make gives £5 to the country’s project and if you wish to donate more for the good cause, we won’t say no – just chat to your Travel Specialist.
In Borneo, this project is Reef Guardian. Reef Guardian was established in 2004 to fully manage 46,317 hectares marine conservation area (named Sugud Islands Marine Conservation Area, or in short, SIMCA) at the northeast coast of Sabah. These marine conservation areas are located within the high marine biodiversity Coral Triangle and are consisting of 3 islands for which are nesting grounds for the sea turtles. It plays a vital role in ensuring the habitat of these highly endangered animals is protected. If you’re travelling to Selingan or Lankayan Islands then you should have the opportunity to see either, turtles being released following their hatching and/or laying eggs during the night. Both of these are magical experiences, but it’s important not to get too close, respect the creatures in their natural environment and always listen to the instructions of the expert guides.
You can visit the Reef Guardian office on Lankayan Island as part of our Lazing on Lankayan bite-sized trip. While you are there you may get the opportunity to watch baby turtles be released after hatching, and also spot the turtles swimming across the sea bed as you snorkel the beautiful coral reefs.
Take a peek at our wildlife itineraries in Borneo
For even more Borneo travel tips, head to our travel guide below.