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Location Malaysia, Sabah
Central coordinates 116o 40.00' East  4o 40.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3
Area 58,840 ha
Altitude 500 - 1,900m
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Malaysian Nature Society



Summary Known as the most pristine, rugged and remote rainforest in Malaysia, this area is located in the Kinabatangan district in Sabah. This area is a Conservation Area for the purpose of research, education and training.

Site description Maliau Basin is one of the most pristine natural features in Malaysia. The region is rugged, remote and forested and is distinguished by its circular perimeter. The Basin is sharply delimited on all sides by cliffs or very steep slopes up to 1,500 m in height. The highest point is Gunung Lutong (1,900 m asl) on the north rim. The shape had been moulded by faults and earth movements resulting in the Tanjung Formation during the early to middle Miocene age. The Tanjung Formation consists of rocks which are mudstones intercalated with thin and thicker layers of siltstone to medium-grained sandstone (Maryati Mohamed, 1998).The area is drained by radiating tributaries of the Sungai Maliau, forming a unique and important catchment for the south-central zone of Sabah. The drainage system comprises mainly of tea-coloured rivers caused by brown, humic compounds, which leach from the heath forest vegetation. Sungai Maliau gorges out of the south-eastern corner of the basin into Sungai Kuamut which in turns feeds Sungai Kinabatangan, the longest and largest river in Sabah (Maryati Mohamed, 1998; Anton and Alexander, 1998; Waidi Sinun et al., 1998). Maliau Basin also has an exceptionally high number of waterfalls.

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 
Wallace's Hawk-eagle Nisaetus nanus resident  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Large Green-pigeon Treron capellei resident  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Alcedo euryzona resident  2004  present  A1  Not Recognised 
Blue-headed Pitta Pitta baudii resident  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Straw-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus zeylanicus 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)  
Maliau Basin Protection Forest Reserve 62,976 protected area contained by site 39,000  

Habitats

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

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
water management -

Other biodiversity The scientific surveys of Maliau Basin have documented several interesting findings, some which is unique to the area. 181 commercial tree species from 11 families, dominated by Araucariaceae, Dipterocarpaceae and Casuarinaceae (Barnabas Gait et al., 1998).34 species from 14 families and 26 genera of fern and fern allies (Susup Akin, 1998).The rare Rafflesia tengku-adlini has also been discovered in the area, one of only two known localities in Sabah (Marsh, 1989).35 species of freshwater algae (Anton et al., 1998).16 genera representing 10 families of bryophytes (Susup Akin and Suleiman, 1998).23 species of aquatic and semi-aquatic bugs from 7 families (Yang et al., 1998).29 species of dung beetles (Davis, 1998).37 species of butterflies from 5 families dominated by Papilionidae, Pieridae, Nymphalidae, Lycaenidae and Hesperiidae (Maryati Mohamed et al., 1998).36 species of termites (Isoptera) (Jones et al., 1998).Presence of Weaver Ants Oecophylla smaragdina in the heath forest (Widodo and Maryati Mohamed, 1998).Three species of freshwater fishes namely Puntius sealei (Cyprinidae), Betta cf. unimaculata (Belontiidae) and Hemibagrus nemurus (Bagridae) and three species of crustaceans: Parathelphusa valida (Parathelphusidae), Thelphusula sp. nov. (Gecarcinucidae) and Macrobrachiun sabanus (Palaemonidae) (Martin-Smith et al., 1998).25 species of amphibians from 5 families (Abdul-Hamid Ahmad and Wong, 1998).Four species of small mammals dominated by Whitehead's Rat Maxomys whiteheadi (Joseph Gasis et al., 1998. The presence of large and rare mammals (Marsh, 1989; Joseph Gasis et al., 1998). The area has been earmarked as an important refuge for Sumatran Rhinoceroses (WWF, 2002a).(I) Globally threatened mammals (IUCN, 2002): CRITICAL: Sumatran Rhinoceros Dicerorhinnus sumatrensis; ENDANGERED: Asian Elephant Elephas maximus, Tembadau Bos javanicus, Proboscis Monkey Nasalis larvatus, Bay Cat Catopuma badia, Orang-Utan Pongo pygmaeus; VULNERABLE: Clouded Leopard Neofelis nebulosa, Pig-tailed Macaque Macaca nemestrina; NEAR THREATENED: Bornean Gibbon Hylobates muelleri, Long-tailed Macaque M. fascicularis; DATA DEFICIENT: Hose's Langur Presbytis hosei, Malayan Sun Bear Helarctos malayanus(II) Globally threatened reptiles (IUCN, 2002): No information.(III) Globally threatened plants (IUCN, 2002): CRITICAL: Shorea platycarpa, S. johorensis, S. acuminatissima, S. almon, S. asahii, S. flemmichii, S. foxworthyi, S. platycarpa, S. smithiana, S. superba, S. waltoni, Hopea nervosa, H. beccariana, H. sangal, Parashorea malaanonan, Dipterocarpus gracilis; ENDANGERED: Shorea andulensis, S. argentifolia, S. faguetiana, S. leprosula, S. bracteolata, S. obscura, S. pauciflora, Dryobalanops lanceolata, Dipterocarpus crinitus; VULNERABLE: Durio acutifolius, D. kutejensis, Agathis dammara; NEAR THREATENED: Nepenthes veitchii, Aglaia oligophylla; LOWER RISK/conservation dependent: Nepenthes hirsuta, Koompassia excelsa, K. malaccensis; DATA DEFICIENT: Mangifera bullata

Protection status Maliau Basin was designated as a Conservation Area for the purposes of research, education and Training in 1981 with an area of 39,000 ha within the Yayasan Sabah's (Sabah Foundation) timber concession. Yayasan Sabah is an organization formed in 1966 through an Enactment by the Sabah State Legislative Assembly. In 1997, the Conservation Area was upgraded by the Sabah State Government to a Protection (Class I) Forest Reserve under the Sabah Forest Enactment and extended to its present size. With the publication of the Government Gazette, The Maliau Basin Conservation Area Forest Rules (1998), the legal status and modus operandi of the area was established. The Sabah State Government through the State Heritage Council has also designated the Maliau Basin as a cultural heritage area and was consequently gazetted under the Cultural Heritage (Conservation) Enactment 1997 to give it additional protection (Anon., 2000; Regis, 2001).Daily management of the Conservation Area is carried out by the Yayasan Sabah on behalf of an inter-agency Maliau Basin Management Committee comprising of Federal and Sabah State government agencies and local universities. Currently, the Yayasan Sabah is working in collaboration with DANCED (Danish Cooperation for Environment and Development) in a three year project (1999-2001) to prepare a management plan for the area.

References Abdul-Hamid Ahmad and Wong, A. 1998. The Amphibian Fauna of the Maliau Basin. In Maryati Mohamed, Waidi Sinun, A. Anton, Mohd. Noh Dalimin and Abdul-Hamid Ahmad. (eds.). Maliau Basin Scientific Expedition 1996, pp. 133-138. Kota Kinabalu: Universiti Malaysia Sabah.Anon. 2000. Maliau Basin to stay protected: Deputy CM. The Sun, 3 December.Anon. 2001. Birds of Maliau Basin (Unpublished).Anon. 2002. Birds of Maliau Basin (Unpublished).Anton, A. and Alexander, J. 1998. Limnology of Maliau Basin. In Maryati Mohamed, Waidi Sinun, A. Anton, Mohd. Noh Dalimin and Abdul-Hamid Ahmad. (eds.). Maliau Basin Scientific Expedition 1996, pp. 29-36. Kota Kinabalu: Universiti Malaysia Sabah.Anton, A., Alexander, J. and Chan, A. 1998. The Algae of Maliau Rivers. In Maryati Mohamed, Waidi Sinun, A. Anton, Mohd. Noh Dalimin and Abdul-Hamid Ahmad. (eds.). Maliau Basin Scientific Expedition 1996, pp. 37-48. Kota Kinabalu: Universiti Malaysia Sabah.Barnabas Gait, Rainus Awang and Lasius M. Urit. 1998. Checklist of Commercial Timber and Rattans in the Maliau Basin. In Maryati Mohamed, Waidi Sinun, A. Anton, Mohd. Noh Dalimin and Abdul-Hamid Ahmad. (eds.). Maliau Basin Scientific Expedition 1996, pp. 63-72. Kota Kinabalu: Universiti Malaysia Sabah.Colenutt, S. 2002. Little-known Oriental bird: Bornean Bristlehead Pityriasis gymnocephala. OBC Bulletin 35: 75-77.Davis, A.J. 1998. Beetle Abundance and Diversity in the Maliau Basin, with Special Reference to the Dung and Carrion Beetle Fauna. In Maryati Mohamed, Waidi Sinun, A. Anton, Mohd. Noh Dalimin and Abdul-Hamid Ahmad. (eds.). Maliau Basin Scientific Expedition 1996, pp. 77-86. Kota Kinabalu: Universiti Malaysia Sabah.IUCN. 2002. 2002 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. http://www.redlist.org (23 June 2003).Jones, D.T., Tan, J. and Bakhtiar Effendi Yahya. 1998. The Termite (Insecta: Isoptera) of the Maliau Basin, Sabah. In Maryati Mohamed, Waidi Sinun, A. Anton, Mohd. Noh Dalimin and Abdul-Hamid Ahmad. (eds.). Maliau Basin Scientific Expedition 1996, pp. 95-112. Kota Kinabalu: Universiti Malaysia Sabah.Joseph Gasis, Mustamin Mansah, Abdul-Hamid Ahmad and Arifin Awang Ali. 1998. Maliau Basin Scientific Expedition May 1996: Mammal Survey. In Maryati Mohamed, Waidi Sinun, A. Anton, Mohd. Noh Dalimin and Abdul-Hamid Ahmad. (eds.). Maliau Basin Scientific Expedition 1996, pp. 149-154. Kota Kinabalu: Universiti Malaysia Sabah.Lim-Hasegawa, D. (ed.) 2002. Pictorial Report 2001: Maliau Basin Conservation Area. Kota Kinabalu: Forestry Division, Wisma Innoprise.Marsh, C. 1989. Management. In Marsh, C. Expedition to Maliau Basin, Sabah (April-May 1988), pp. 167-172. Project MYS 126/88. Kuala Lumpur: WWFM and Kota Kinabalu: Yayasan Sabah.Marsh, C. and Gasis, J. 1990. An Expedition to Sabah's Lost World: The Maliau Basin. Malayan Naturalist 43(3): 15-22.Martin-Smith, K., Abdullah Samat, Tan, S.H. and Tan, H.T. 1998. The Fish and Crustacean Fauna of the Maliau Basin, Sabah. In Maryati Mohamed, Waidi Sinun, A. Anton, Mohd. Noh Dalimin and Abdul-Hamid Ahmad. (eds.). Maliau Basin Scientific Expedition 1996, pp. 119-132. Kota Kinabalu: Universiti Malaysia Sabah.Maryati Mohamed, Chey, V.K., Momin Binti, Richard Lusi Ansis and Nordin Wahid. 1998. Butterflies of the Maliau Basin. In Maryati Mohamed, Waidi Sinun, A. Anton, Mohd. Noh Dalimin and Abdul-Hamid Ahmad. (eds.). Maliau Basin Scientific Expedition 1996, pp. 87-94. Kota Kinabalu: Universiti Malaysia Sabah.Maryati Mohamed. 1998. Executive Summary. In Maryati Mohamed, Waidi Sinun, A. Anton, Mohd. Noh Dalimin and Abdul-Hamid Ahmad. (eds.). Maliau Basin Scientific Expedition 1996, pp. 1-14. Kota Kinabalu: Universiti Malaysia Sabah.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. Sheldon, F.H., Moyle, R.G. and Kennard, J. 2001. Ornithology of Sabah: History, Gazetteer, Annotated Checklist, and Bibliography. Ornithological Monographs 52: 1-285.Susup Akin and Suleiman, M. 1998. Some Bryophytes of the Maliau Basin Conservation Area, Sabah. In Maryati Mohamed, Waidi Sinun, A. Anton, Mohd. Noh Dalimin and Abdul-Hamid Ahmad. (eds.). Maliau Basin Scientific Expedition 1996, pp. 49-56. Kota Kinabalu: Universiti Malaysia Sabah.Susup Akin. 1998. Checklist of Ferns and Fern Allies in the Maliau Basin Conservation Area, Sabah. In Maryati Mohamed, Waidi Sinun, A. Anton, Mohd. Noh Dalimin and Abdul-Hamid Ahmad. (eds.). Maliau Basin Scientific Expedition 1996, pp. 57-62. Kota Kinabalu: Universiti Malaysia Sabah.Tan Cheng Li. 2001. Lake living. The Star, 13 November: 3-4, 33.Waidi Sinun and Regis, P. 1998. Epilogue. In Maryati Mohamed, Waidi Sinun, A. Anton, Mohd. Noh Dalimin and Abdul-Hamid Ahmad. (eds.). Maliau Basin Scientific Expedition 1996, pp. 167-170. Kota Kinabalu: Universiti Malaysia Sabah.Waidi Sinun, Gavin Sham, Coleman, F., Shamsuddin Osman and Yong, D. 1998. Prospects for Nature Tourism Development in the Maliau Basin. In Maryati Mohamed, Waidi Sinun, A. Anton, Mohd. Noh Dalimin and Abdul-Hamid Ahmad. (eds.). Maliau Basin Scientific Expedition 1996, pp. 155-159. Kota Kinabalu: Universiti Malaysia Sabah.Waidi Sinun, Kawi Bidin, Jadda Suhaimi and Mohd. Noh Dalimin. 1998. The Hydrogeomorphological Characteristics of the South-Western Area of the Maliau Basin. In Maryati Mohamed, Waidi Sinun, A. Anton, Mohd. Noh Dalimin and Abdul-Hamid Ahmad. (eds.). Maliau Basin Scientific Expedition 1996, pp. 15-28. Kota Kinabalu: Universiti Malaysia Sabah.Widodo, E.S. and Maryati Mohamed. 1998. The Ephiphytic Ant-Plants (Family: Rubiaceae) of the Maliau Basin. In Maryati Mohamed, Waidi Sinun, A. Anton, Mohd. Noh Dalimin and Abdul-Hamid Ahmad. (eds.). Maliau Basin Scientific Expedition 1996, pp. 113-118. Kota Kinabalu: Universiti Malaysia Sabah.WWFM. 1997. National Ecotourism Plan Malaysia. Part 2. Ecotourism Potential: Site Listings. Prepared for the Ministry of Culture, Arts and Tourism, Federal Government of Malaysia. Malaysia: World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).Yang, C.M., Lim, T.B., Gunasalam, G. and Yeo, K.L. 1998. A Preliminary Report on Aquatic and Semi-Aquatic Bugs of the Maliau Basin Expedition, Sabah, East Malaysia. In Maryati Mohamed, Waidi Sinun, A. Anton, Mohd. Noh Dalimin and Abdul-Hamid Ahmad. (eds.). Maliau Basin Scientific Expedition 1996, pp. 73-76. Kota Kinabalu: Universiti Malaysia Sabah.Yoga, S.S. 2001. Coal concerns. The Star, 20 November: 3.Yong, D., Marayu Palanus and Augustine Tuuga. 1998. Preliminary Report on the Survey of Birds of the Maliau Basin. In Maryati Mohamed, Waidi Sinun, A. Anton, Mohd. Noh Dalimin and Abdul-Hamid Ahmad. (eds.). Maliau Basin Scientific Expedition 1996, pp. 139-148. Kota Kinabalu: Universiti Malaysia Sabah.Yong, D., Scriven, K.W. and Johns, A. 1989. Birds. Pp. 145-154 in Marsh, C. Expedition to Maliau Basin, Sabah (April-May 1988). Project MYS 126/88. Kuala Lumpur: WWFM and Kota Kinabalu: Yayasan Sabah.WWF. 2002a. Securing a Future for Asia's Wild Rhinos & Elephants. WWF's Asian Rhino and Elephant Action Strategy. Switzerland: World Wildlife Fund, Inc.

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