Kinabatangan River

The 560-kilometre Kinabatangan River is Sabah’s longest river, beginning in the Crocker Range in Southwest Sabah and ending at the Sulu Sea southeast of Sandakan. From the headwaters to its vast river mouth, the Kinabatangan passes through a diverse range of habitats, including dipterocarp forest, seasonally flooded riparian forest, oxbow lakes, nipah and mangroves. Whilst the upper reaches of the Kinabatangan River have been extensively logged, much of the lowland forest and mangroves have survived. This vast floodplain forest contains a rich mix of vegetation that supports a remarkable diversity of wildlife; including proboscis monkeys, orangutan, gibbons, elephants, tarsiers, slow loris, crocodiles, freshwater sharks, Irrawaddy dolphins and a variety birds¬. In 2006 27,800 hectares of land was gazetted as the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary. This protected area essentially forms a narrow wildlife corridor that follows the river. The Kinabatangan River has gained a justified reputation as a top wildlife watching destination. Sukau, located 132 km from Sandakan, is the main centre for wildlife tourism along the river. Abai, 47 km from the mouth of the Kinabatangan, also has lodge accommodation and serves as jumping off point for boat-based wildlife watching tours of the Kinabatangan and its tributaries.

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