We recently supported an appeal by the World Land Trust to raise $1.7 million to enable local partners HUTAN to purchase and protect critical rainforest habitat in the Lower Kinabatangan floodplain of Sabah, Borneo. “The rapid expansion of palm oil plantations in Borneo has resulted in an unprecedented destruction of the island’s unique and rich tropical rainforests, putting the future of the Bornean Orangutan [and many other species] in serious jeopardy,” said Dr. Paul Salaman, CEO of Rainforest Trust, who played a pivotal role in organizing and raising support for the project.
Spotted Tree Frog, Nyctixalus pictus, currently listed on the IUCN Red List as Near Threatened.
Two corridors totaling 894 acres (362 hectares) have been purchased as a result of the appeal, protecting a wide variety of habitats including mangroves, swamps, oxbow lakes, dipterocarp forest and limestone outcrops. The diversity of these habitats undoubtedly contributes to the region’s exceptional biodiversity. Hutan and the University of Melbourne recently conducted a survey of amphibians in the area, recording a total of 29 frog species from 5 families, among which at least 12 species are endemic to Borneo. One of the most striking species in the area is the beautiful Spotted Tree Frog, Nyctixalus pictus, currently listed on the IUCN Red List as Near Threatened.
The lead researcher, Dr Gillespie, has stated that Bornean populations of the non-endemic species are likely to eventually be taxonomically split from others after in-depth molecular biology studies. Importantly, three previously undescribed arboreal frog species were discovered, one of which, belonging to the genus Chiromantis, is the first and only member of this genus in Borneo. The other undescribed species of frog (both belonging to the genus Philautus) were also located in the wider corridor within Keruak VJR. Specimens have been collected and sent to the Sabah Museum to be formally described and named.
Many other endangered species will also benefit from this project, including the endangered Orangutan, Bornean pygmy elephant, Malayan sun bear and Proboscis monkey, in addition to 300 species of birds. The project site is also vitally important for local people who depend on tourism for their livelihoods through provision of accommodation and guiding services. The ultimate goal for all of the properties within the corridor is to include them as part of the existing Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary to protect a mosaic of habitats in perpetuity.
Bornean Pygmy Elephant, Bornean Orangutan, Proboscis Monkey, Spotted Tree Frog
Mangroves, swamps, oxbow lakes, dipterocarp forest and limestone outcrops