Sukau on the Lower Kinabatangan River

Proboscis Monkey

The Kinabatangan River is the longest river in Sabah at 560 km, and the second longest river in the whole of Malaysia (the longest being the Rajang River in neighbouring Sarawak). The flood plains of the Kinabatangan offer the visitor a rare glimpse of the mangrove forests that cloak the shoreline with their population of Proboscis Monkeys and crested egrets. The Proboscis Monkey is one of nature’s jokes. It is a specialised leaf eating primate whose prominent nose and “sunburnt” appearance probably inspired the local name which translates to Dutch monkey.

Much of the lower Kinabatangan River is gazetted under the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary and it meanders through a flood plain creating numerous ox-bow lakes and making it an ideal environment for some of the best wildlife and birdlife found in Malaysia.

Sunset on the Kinabatangan

Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary is one of two known places in the world to be inhabited by ten species of primates, four of which are endemic to Borneo. It is also one of two places in the world where four colobines inhabit the same place – namely proboscis monkey, silvered langur, maroon langur and Hose’s or grey langur. It has the highest concentration of proboscis monkeys and orang-utans in Malaysia.

Long-tailed Macaque on the Kinabatangan

Other wildlife on the Kinabatangan includes long-tailed macaque, pig-tailed macaque, silver, red and grey-leaf monkeys, Bornean gibbon, two nocturnal primates namely western tarsier and slow loris and other mammals including the Sumatran rhinoceros. It is home to Borneo’s largest population of elephants, which are occasionally seen on the afternoon jungle river cruises.

Hoofed mammals which are mainly active at night include wild cattle or Tembadau, bearded pig and four species of deer namely sambar, greater mouse-deer, barking deer and lesser mouse-deer which is also the world’s smallest hoofed mammal.

Carnivores include the Malayan sun bear, the world’s smallest bear, four species of wild cat namely clouded leopard, which is the largest wild cat in Borneo, the leopard cat, marbled cat and flat-headed cat. Other small mammals include hairy-nosed otter, oriental small-clawed otter, smooth otter, Malay civet, common palm, small toothed palm, banded palm and moon rat.

Rhinoceros Hornbill on the Kinabatangan

Reptiles include reticulated python, tortoise, freshwater terrapin, monitor lizard and crocodile.

As well as the egrets, bird life includes herons, storm’s stork, osprey, falcon, kingfisher, hornbill, woodpecker, drongo, oriole, parakeet, coucal and many others.

Additional photographs on this page are courtesy of Katie Seeger, Phil Youdale and Sabah Tourism Board