Unlike many regions in Southeast Asia Malaysian Borneo still has the majority of its mangrove habitats, ecosystems essential not just for coastal defense, as a sediment stabilser and a nursery habitat for many reef species but also in their role supporting many species unique to the mangrove environment itself. Countless species of bird thrive in this habitat, feeding from all sorts of fish, insects and crustaceans. Four species of incredibly colourful kingfisher can be often seen in the mangroves, herons and egrets too are common, as are beecatchers and hawks, especially the elang putih (Sea Eagle). Although abundant through Malaysian Borneo's mangrove habitats the endemic Proboscis Monkey can be seen particularly at Klias; here salt water crocodiles can also be found.
Mangrove is very easy to find in Malaysian Borneo but some of the more accessible and finer examples of dense mangrove exist in the Kinabatangan and at Klias. The KKBS (Kota Kinabalu Bird Sanctuary) is a great place to see many birds in their natural mangrove habitat.
Kinabatangan River Mangroves
The Kinabatangan Wetland is an important conservation area for a large number of animals. This wetlands sanctuary, centered in the kinabatangan river, is home to clouded leopards, asian elephant, civet cats, otters, hornbills, egrets, hawks and many more. This place is also the area with the highest concentrations of primates in the whole of borneo with ten species of monkeys and apes. The mangrove swamps in the Kinabatangan River Delta area form a complex mosaic with other types of lowland forest (including palm forest) and open reed marsh. The Kinabatangan mangroves are home to many species of saltwater fish, invertebrates such as shrimp and crabs. There are also the fascinating otters, and some 200 species of birds including various species of fish eagle, egret, kingfisher, and heron. Irrawaddy dolphins are also occasionally spotted in the delta, while other inhabitants include Borneo's indigenous proboscis monkey and the saltwater crocodile. Over the past 30 years, there has been clearance of mangroves in the Kinabatangan delta for timber and charcoal production. The mangroves have either been replaced by oil palms or the cleared land has become shrimp farms. Unfortunately, the wildlife has suffered, but now the government of Sabah is engaged in a large-scale mangrove replanting operation.
Weston is not only the largest and best-preserved river mouth wetland in north borneo. It is also boasted of having one of the most complete collections of mangrove plant species in south east asia. The whole wetland (reaching into the lower part of kuala penyu) is roughly the size of Singapore. Due to its sheer size, Weston Wetland's landmass has the most varied water, soil and other environmental condition, thus allowing a diverse mangrove plant to exist.
Bako National Park Mangroves
When you think of Bako National Park, humid rainforests, sweaty vines, groups of monkeys, and so on spring to mind. Yet hidden in the background, and somewhat underestimated, are the mangrove forests, hard at work doing lots of magical little things to make the Bako experience even more holistic. Large stretches of mangroves are seen across Bako where they live in the no-man's-land where the sea meets the dry land.
KK Bird Sanctuary Mangroves
The Bird Sanctuary is an important refuge and feeding ground for many species of resident birds, as well as several migratory species from Northern Asia. There are 9 different species of mangrove within the sanctuary as well as ferns, shrubs and other naturally growing vegetation. A walkway runs through the area keeping visitors from damaging the vegetation. There is also a lookout point standing approx. 30m high and bird hides where a breeding colony of Purple Heron can be seen.
Santubong Wetlands, focuses on the complex ecosystem of the mangrove swamp, which is an important breeding ground for many marine animal species, and a permanent home for small reptiles, mud-skippers, crabs, shellfish, and occasional mammals such as monkeys and lorises. The mangroves are also important feeding grounds for a rich array of bird life. Visitors will see many different types of mangrove, and learn how these uniquely adapted trees colonise the shoreline and develop a complex, symbiotic ecosystem.