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Explore the Wonders of Sabah Malaysia
Kinabatangan red ape project 京那巴当岸-红色叶猴計劃
The Kinabatangan is also Malaysia’s largest wetland area, and home to an assortment of riverside habitats, such as semi-inundated, mangrove and riparian forests, which allow a rich diversity of species to coexist. One of the largest Orang-utan populations in Malaysia is found in the lower Kinabatangan. Other endemic primates found here are the proboscis monkeys and the Bornean gibbons. Mammals such as the Asian Elephants are also inhabitants of the floodplain. Bird life is enormous, with a record of about two hundred species of bird. The most commonly spotted are hornbills and kingfishers. Water birds such as Oriental Darters and Storm’s Storks can be seen near the lakes. When the tide is low, Estuarine Crocodiles are seen resting still under the sun along the sand bank. Cruising along the river early in the morning or late afternoon is a wonderful opportunity to spot birds and other wildlife. The project under the name of Red Ape Encounters is managed by a core team of villagers. They were intensively trained as research assistants and nature guides by HUTAN, a French NGO conducting Orang-utan research and conservation project in the Kinabatangan. Tourism benefits are directly channelled to the communities through employment of local guides, rental of boats and cars, and provision of accommodation in the form of homestay. Community funds for tourism and conservation were created to support education and the protection of wildlife and habitat. Hence, there is a positive and ongoing relationship between tourism, conservation and community. The project’s objective is to restore harmonious relationships between people and the Orang-utan, which in turn will support local socio-economic development compatible with habitat and wildlife conservation. Today, the project consists of highly motivated team of 35 trained staff from the Kinabatangan community, who will ensure that the initiative continues to protect their heritage. Previous genetic studies on orang-utans, long-tailed macaques and proboscis monkeys have focused on neutral genetic variation, showing high levels of genetic diversity. Except for the long-tailed macaques, the populations seem to have undergone expansions and in the case of orang-utans this seems to correlate with anthropogenic mediated environmental change. Nevertheless, neutral markers do not provide information about the response to selective environmental pressures and the fitness of the populations. RAE has the exclusive right to bring visitors to the Orang-utan study site to learn more of the research and conservation efforts. On the excursion, you can see how research is done — from data collection to analysis of biological, ecological and ethological surveys. About 20 orang-utans live in the 4 sq km study site, so the chances of seeing an ape are good. (It is estimated that over 1,000 orang-utans inhabit the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary of which this is part).