Tabin Wildlife Reserve covers an area of 122,500 hectares northeast of Lahad Datu in eastern Sabah. The rectangular shaped reserve is one of the largest protected areas in Sabah and is mostly covered with lowland dipterocarp forest. Whilst Tabin contains areas of undisturbed forest, much of the reserve consists of previously logged over forest.
Tabin was declared a protected area in 1984 primarily due to the existence of three of the largest mammals found in Sabah: the Borneo Pygmy Elephant, Sumatran Rhinoceros and Banteng (a species of wild cattle). Nine species of primate are found at Tabin, namely the orangutan, Bornean gibbon, red leaf monkey, silvered leaf monkey, grey leaf monkey, western tarsier, slow loris, long-tailed macaque and pig-tailed macaque. The largest predator found at Tabin is the clouded leopard. Whilst sightings of this fantastic cat are rare, it is quite common to see leopard cats and civet cats.
Tabin Wildlife Reserve is home to an astonishing variety of birds. To date over 300 species of birds have been recorded at Tabin, including eight species of hornbill and some rare and endemic species.
With its rich biodiversity it is not surprising that Tabin Wildlife Reserve has gained a reputation is an excellent place for nature-based activities, especially wildlife watching. The range of activities includes jungle trekking, 4WD night safaris, night walks, wildlife spotting and bird watching.
Treks & Trails
There are 9 trekking trails and a number of reserve roads used for four wheel drive night safaris. The longest trail is the Gibbon Trail (2.8 km) which leads from the resort to Lipad Waterfall. The other trails are the Raleigh Trail (2.5 km), Elephant Trail ( 2.2 km), Rhino Trail (1.8 km), Otters Loop (1.2 km), Sambar Deer Trail (1.16 km), Mud Volcano Trail (0.7 km), Otters Trail (0.5 km) and Mouse Deer Trail (0.4 km). You are only allowed on the trails with a guide.
Map of Tabin Wildlife Reserve
A unique feature of this protected area is the existence of several active mud volcanoes. These are rich in minerals and serve as salt licks, attracting a range of wildlife. The mud volcanoes therefore offer good wildlife watching opportunities. There is an observation tower at the Lipad mud volcano and most tours visit the area to search for wildlife or look for animal footprints in the mud.
Accommodation facilities are good with the Tabin Wildlife Resort offering lodge-style chalets set in the rainforest. The Resort offers a total of 20 rooms comprising 10 river lodges and 10 hill lodges. Each room (twin or double) has an en-suite bathroom with hot shower, baloney and ceiling fan.
Getting to Tabin
Tabin Wildlife Reserve is located approximately 50 km north east of the town of Lahad Datu. MAS Wings operates daily flights from Kota Kinabalu to Lahad Datu.
The reserve is accessed via sealed and gravel roads. The resort operates scheduled transfers from Lahad Datu to Tabin at 0800 hours and 1200 hours. The Tabin-Lahad Datu transfer departs the resort at 1330 hours with arrival in Lahad Datu town centre at 1500 hours. Unscheduled transfers incur additional charges. The drive from Lahad Datu to the resort takes around 75 minutes.
Lahad Datu is a 4 hour drive from Sandakan and a 2 hour drive from Sukau.
Borneo Adventure offers a range 3 and 4-day Tabin Wildlife Reserve tour packages plus a Danum Valley and Tabin 5 day tour.