email a friend
printable version
Location Malaysia, Sabah
Central coordinates 117o 48.00' East  4o 57.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3
Area 43,800 ha
Altitude 150 - 1,090m
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Malaysian Nature Society

Summary Situated in the district of Lahad Datu in the state of Sabah, Danum Valley is said to be a place of beauty and of rich biodiversity. The protected area is occupied by rivers in the northern, eastern and southern part of the area.

Site description (I) Physical CharacteristicsDanum Valley Conservation Area is located in eastern Sabah, near Lahad Datu. The protected area occupies much of the upper catchment of Sungai Segama and comprises mostly rugged terrain at between 150-1,000 m asl. It is also the best representation of a continuous transition of undisturbed lowland dipterocarp forest to highland forest in Sabah. Three major summits can be found within the area; Gunung Nicola (917 m asl) on the northern perimeter, Gunung Danum (1,093 m asl) in the centre and Gunung Tribulation (861 m asl) in the upper Segama highland to the south-west.Three main types of geological formation have been identified in the area; the Crystalline Basement, Chert-spellite and the Kuamut (Marsh and Greer, 1992 cited in Magintan, 2000). The Chert-spillite formations occur to the north of Sungai Segama. It is composed of metamorphic and ultrabasic rocks of the Upper Cretaceous to early Tertiary age. Most of the soils is represented by two associations; the Mentapok Association and the Bang Association. The Mentapok Association corresponds to the hilly-mountain landform of Danum Valley. These soils are derived mainly from basic and intermediate igneous rocks and consist of chromic and orthic luvisols, euthric cambisols nad lithosols (Wright 1975, cited in Magintan, 2000). The Bang Association developed over rocks of the Kuamut Formation.(II) Climatic ConditionsThe area experiences two monsoon seasons with a wetter period affected by the north-east monsoon (December-March) and a drier period by the south-east monsoon (May-October), with rainfall ranging from 2,000 mm to 3,300 mm. Temperatures range from 22.5oC to 30.9oC with annual high humidity (Norhayati et al., 2001).

Key Biodiversity The primary lowland dipterocarp forest in Danum Valley supports several important globally threatened species and a rich diversity of biome-related species. Over 275 species have been recorded (Kiew, 1976; Marsh 1995; Mohamed Zakaria bin Hussin 1992; Showler, 1992; WWFM, 1998; MacKinnon and Phillipps 1993; Sheldon et al., 2001). All hornbill species in Sabah are also present in the area. At least 9 endemics (Lambert 1993), three dependent on unlogged forest Black-throated Wren-babbler Napothera atrigularis, Bornean Wren-babbler Ptilocichla leucogrammica and Bornean Blue Flycatcher Cyornis superbus. Other Near Threatened species recorded are the Oriental Darter Anhinga melanogaster and Lesser Fish-eagle Ichthyophaga humilis (Kiew, 1976; Sheldon et al., 2001).

Non-bird biodiversity: One hundred and twenty species of mammals, 72 reptiles, 56 amphibians and 37 fishes have been identified (Kiew, 1976; Showler, 1992; Heydon and Bulloh, 1996; (Payne and Francis, 1985). Significant populations of 10 species of primates, including the Orang-Utan Pongo pygmaeus and Proboscis Monkey Nasalis larvatus are present. A small number of Sumatran Rhinoceros Dicerorhinus sumatrensis (probably less than 20 individuals) may be present in the area, making this one of only two or three such sites known in Borneo, a crucial refuge for their continued survival (WWF, 2002a). (I)Globally threatened mammals (IUCN, 2002): CRITICAL: Sumatran Rhinoceros Dicerorhinus sumatrensis; ENDANGERED: Asian Elephant Elephas maximus, Orang-Utan Pongo pygmaeus; Proboscis Monkey Nasalis larvatus; Bay Cat Catopuma badia, Otter-Civet Cynogale bennettii; VULNERABLE: Pig-tailed Macaque Macaca nemestrina; NEAR THREATENED: Bornean Gibbon Hylobates muelleri, Long-tailed Macaque M. fascicularis; DATA DEFICIENT: Malayan Sun Bear Helarctos malayanus, Hairy-nosed Otter Lutra sumatrana, Hose's Langur Presbytis hosei(II) Globally threatened reptiles (IUCN, 2002): No information.(III) Globally threatened plants (IUCN, 2002): CRITICAL: Parashorea malaanonan, Shorea johorensis; ENDANGERED: Shorea pauciflora, Dryobalanops lanceolata; VULNERABLE: Engelhardia danumensis, Aglaia laxiflora, Mangifera rufocostata

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Bulwer's Pheasant Lophura bulweri resident  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Storm's Stork Ciconia stormi resident  2004  present  A1  Endangered 
Wallace's Hawk-eagle Nisaetus nanus resident  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Large Green-pigeon Treron capellei resident  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Short-toed Coucal Centropus rectunguis resident  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Bonaparte's Nightjar Caprimulgus concretus resident  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Alcedo euryzona resident  2004  present  A1  Not Recognised 
Blue-headed Pitta Pitta baudii resident  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Fairy Pitta Pitta nympha winter  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Straw-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus zeylanicus resident  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Hook-billed Bulbul Setornis criniger resident  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Bornean Wren-babbler Ptilocichla leucogrammica resident  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Large-billed Blue-flycatcher Cyornis caerulatus resident  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Danum Valley Protection Forest Reserve 42,652 protected area contained by site 42,652  
Malubuk Virgin Jungle Reserve 223 protected area contained by site 223  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest   -

Protection status The Danum Valley Conservation Area was formerly part of a 972,000 ha forest concession assigned to Yayasan Sabah (the Sabah Foundation) which was spared from logging in 1981 in recognition of its outstanding biodiversity. It was gazetted under the Forest Enactment 1968 as a Class I (Protection) Forest Reserve by the Sabah State Legislative Assembly, under the authority of the Sabah Forestry Department in May 1995. The inter-agency, Danum Valley Management Committee, is responsible for the management and administration of the area. The area was also gazetted under the Cultural Heritage Conservation Enactment 1997 (Regis, 2001).Currently, there is no legal protection for the buffer zones along the south and western boundaries of the site. Proposals have been made to re-gazette a buffer zone of 67,000 ha of logged forest as the Danum Valley Class VII (Wildlife) Forest Reserve. The conversion would protect against future re-logging or conversion to industrial tree plantations and create a 'Greater Danum Valley Conservation Area of about 110,000 ha (Marsh, 1995).

References Adam, J.H. and Omar, R. 2002. Biodiversity of Lowland Dipterocarp Forest in Danum, Lahad Datu, Sabah, Malaysia. In Omar, R., Ali Rahman, Z., Latif, M.T., Lihan, T. and J.H. Adam (eds.). Proceedings of the Regional Symposium on Environment and Natural Resources, pp. 450-458. 10-11 April 2002, Kuala Lumpur. Vol 1.Colenutt, S. 2002. Little-known Oriental bird: Bornean Bristlehead Pityriasis gymnocephala. OBC Bulletin 35: 75-77.Erritzoe, J. and Erritzoe, H.B. 1998. Pittas of the world: a monograph of the pitta family. Cambridge : Lutterworth Press.Heydon, M.J. and Bulloh, P. 1996. The impact of selective logging on sympatric civet species in Borneo. Oryx 30(1): 31-36.IUCN. 2002. 2002 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. (23 June 2003).Johns, A.D. 1991. Responses of Sabah forest primates to timber logging: disturbances and recovery. Sabah Society Journal 9(3): 272-283.Kiew, B.H. (compiler). 1976. A Survey of the Proposed Sungai Danum National Park, Sabah. Project 1347. Kuala Lumpur: WWFM.Lambert, F.R. 1992. The consequences of selective logging for Bornean lowland forest birds. Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. London B 335: 443-447.Lambert, F.R. 1993. Some key sites and significant records of birds in the Philippines and Sabah. Bird Conservation International 3: 281-297.Lim, K.C. 2000. Danum Valley: 29 April to 5 May 2000. Singapore Avifauna 14(2): 22-30.MacKinnon, J. and Phillipps, K. 1993. A Field Guide to the Birds of Borneo, Sumatra, Java and Bali. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Magintan, D. 2000. Diversity, abundance and distribution of ground herbs in primary and selectively logged forest of Danum Valley (North Eastern Borneo). BSc. Disertation. Universiti Sabah Malaysia. Marsh, C.W. 1995. Danum Valley Conservation Area: Danum Valley Class I (Protection) Forest Reserve, Sabah, Malaysia. (Management Plan 1995-2000). Kota Kinabalu: Yayasan Sabah / Innoprise Corporation Sdn Bhd.Mohd. Nordin Hj. Hasan and Mohamed Zakaria Hussin. 1997. Some effects of logging in mixed lowland dipterocarp forests on birds. In State of the Environment in Malaysia, pp. 161-166. A compilation of selected papers presented at the CAP-SAM National Conference "State of the Malaysian Environment". 5-9 January 1996, Penang. Malaysia: Consumers' Association of Penang.Mohamed Zakaria bin Hussin. 1992. Use of recently logged forest by frugivorous birds and mammals. In Ghazally Ismail, Murtedza Mohamed and Siraj Omar. (eds.). Proceedings of the International Conference on Forest Biology and Conservation in Borneo, pp. 356-365. July 30-August 3, 1990. Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. Center For Borneo Studies Publication No. 2.Norhayati, A., Nordin, M. and Latiff, A. 2001. Effects of Selective Logging on Nocturnal Prosimians in Danum Valley, Sabah. Journal of Wildlife and Parks 19: 129-132.Payne, J. and Francis, C.M. 1985. A Field Guide to the Mammals of Borneo. Kota Kinabalu: The Sabah Society, and Petaling Jaya: WWF Malaysia.Regis, P. 2001. The Management of Protected Areas in Sabah. Pp. 67-98 in Zahra Yaacob, Moo-Tan, S. and S. Yorath (eds.). Proceedings of the International Conference on In-situ and Ex-situ Biodiversity Conservation in the New Millennium, 20-22 June 2000, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. Kota Kinabalu: Yayasan Sabah/Innoprise Corporation Sdn. Bhd. And Sabah Museum. Robson, C. (compiler). 1992. From the Field. OBC Bulletin 16: 51.Sheldon, F.H., Moyle, R.G. and Kennard, J. 2001. Ornithology of Sabah: History, Gazetteer, Annotated Checklist, and Bibliography. Ornithological Monographs 52: 1-285.Showler, D.A. 1992. Birdwatching areas: Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia. OBC Bulletin 16: 26-31.Smith, E. 1986. Imperial College Borneo Expedition 1986. (Unpublished).Smythies, B.E. 1981. The birds of Borneo. Third edition. Kota Kinabalu: The Sabah Society, and Kuala Lumpur: Malaysian Nature Society.Smythies, B.E. 1999. The Birds of Borneo (4th Edition). Revised by Davison, G.W.H.. Kota Kinabalu: Natural History Publications (Borneo) Sdn. Bhd.Still, M, Yong, D. and King, B. 1988. Two Nests of Crested Fireback Pheasant, Lophura ignita in Sabah, Malaysia. Malayan Naturalist 41(3&4): 17.Norhayati, A., Nordin, M. and Latiff, A. 2001. Effects of Selective Logging on Nocturnal Prosimians in Danum Valley, Sabah. Journal of Wildlife and Parks 19: 129-132.WWF. 2002a. Securing a Future for Asia's Wild Rhinos & Elephants. WWF's Asian Rhino and Elephant Action Strategy. Switzerland: World Wildlife Fund, Inc.WWFM. 1998. The National Parks and Other Wild Places of Malaysia. London: New Holland Publishers (UK) Ltd.Yong, D. 2003. Breeding Notes from Sabah (March 2003). Suara Enggang 3(May-June): 9.

Contribute  Please click here to help BirdLife conserve the world's birds - your data for this IBA and others are vital for helping protect the environment.

Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Danum Valley Conservation Area. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife