Tabin Wildlife Reserve | Sabah Vacation Guide 

Tabin Wildlife Reserve, Lahad Datu

Best place to view the Sumatran Rhinoceroses, pygmy elephants and orangutan

Attraction, Information, Guide and Tips about Sabah Vacation, Eco-Tourism and Adventures


Tabin Wildlife Reserve is one of the more popular wildlife reserves in Sabah for tourist to get up close and personal with the animals during their Sabah vacation. Tabin Wildlife Reserve consists of lowland dipterocarp forest and tropical plants and is said to have a high density of wild animals within its forest area due to the existence of mud volcanoes here. The mud volcanoes serve as a 'salt lick' to the animals here to provide important source of mineral for the wildlife. This area was officially declared as a wildlife reserve and a protected forest in 1984 for the conservation and preservation of its unique flora and fauna. This reserve was jointly managed by the Sabah's Wildlife Department and Sabah's Forestry Department.

Tabin Wildlife Reserve covers a rectangle area of about 123,000 hectares. There are more than 900 species of plants, 75 species of mammals and 45 species of reptiles in this reserve. It is the largest wildlife reserve in Malaysia and is a popular destination for bird watchers and nature lovers. Besides the Sumatran Rhinoceroses and Borneo pygmy elephants, it is also home to the clouded leopard, sambar deer, exotic wild birds and the orangutan.

Things to do at Tabin Wildlife Reserve :

  1. Bird watching is one of the main attractions for visitors here. This is a bird watcher paradise as the area attracts more than 250 species of birds here. Some of the birds that can be view and photograph here include all the 8 known species of Sabah's hornbill such as the Black Hornbill, Rhinoceros Hornbill, Wreathed Hornbill, Pied Hornbill, White-crowned Hornbill, Wrinkled Hornbill, Bushy-crested Hornbill and Helmeted Hornbill. Other species that have been sighted here include the pitta, the sunbird and many more.

  2. Mud volcanoes and saltwater or mineral water springs are the reason why Tabin wildlife reserves have become such an attraction for wildlife. The wildlife tends to visit these mud volcanoes to get their mineral requirement which is also known as 'salt licks'. The mud are also said to be good for your skin, so try to smear some on your skin during your visit.

  3. Wildlife Spotting and Jungle-trekking. Take your time to explore the jungle through the many trails in the Tabin reserve as you go on an animal spotting trip. Get to know more about the trees and plants here as you follow the trails of the animal foot prints in search of the wildlife.

  4. Experience Night Safari in a tropical rainforest by traveling on a roofless vehicle or just go for a 'Night Walk' into the forest. Night time is the best time to view the nocturnal animals which can be elusive and hard to spot during the day time. With an experience guide which is armed with a torch light helping you to spot elusive and rare wildlife, this will be an experience that you will remember for a long time.

  5. Lipad waterfall, the place to take a refreshing and cool dip. Relax your mind and body after a tiring day of exploring and wildlife spotting with the cascading water.

Mud Volcano at Tabin Wildlife Reserve
A mud volcano at Tabin Wildlife Reserve

Getting There: Getting There: Tabin Wildlife Reserve is located in the middle of the Dent Peninsula, about 27 miles (44 km) from the north-east of Lahad Datu town. The journey to the reserve will take about 1 - 1.5 hours drive from Lahad Datu town. From Kota Kinabalu to Lahad Datu, you will need to take a one hour flight. For more details and a night stay, contact the local travel agent during your Sabah vacation and tours.

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