A Demi-decade of Mammal Research: A Rapid Assessment within the Heart of Borneo in Sabah

Main Article Content

Mohd. Aminur Faiz Suis
Jabanus Miun
Lawrence Tingkoi
Alexander Yuk Loong Hastie
Arthur Chung Yaw Chyang
Reuben Nilus


Sabah contributes 4.2 million hectares to the total Heart of Borneo (HoB) areas. Some of the forest reserves in the HoB are newly gazetted as Totally Protected Forest. Hence, their mammal diversity has to be comprehensively documented. This study aims to record the presence of terrestrial mammal species, and assess the prevalence of poaching in selected forest reserves within the Sabah HoB area. A total of 15 forest reserves were surveyed within a 5-year timeframe which recorded 60 terrestrial mammal species, including 21 Bornean endemics. The variation in total enumerated mammal species in the study sites may be derived from unequal sampling efforts, geographical factors and anthropogenic influences. The intensity of poaching within the study sites is high. Though this study is a rapid assessment, it created baseline information for mammal diversity in some of the least studied forest reserves in Sabah, important for conservation of its terrestrial mammals.

Article Details

How to Cite
A Demi-decade of Mammal Research: A Rapid Assessment within the Heart of Borneo in Sabah. (2023). Tropical Life Sciences Research, 34(1), 261–277. https://doi.org/10.21315/tlsr2023.34.1.14
Original Article


Ancrenaz M, Hearn A J, Ross J, Sollmann R and Wilting A. (2012). Handbook for wildlife monitoring using camera-traps. Kota Kinabalu: BBEC II Secretariat.

Araujo G, Ismail A R, McCann C, McCann D, Legaspi C G, Snow S, Labaja J, Manjaji- Matsumoto M and Ponzo A. (2020). Getting the most out of citizen science for endangered species such as whale shark. Journal of Fish Biology 96: 864–867. https://doi.org/10.1111/jfb.14254

Arpa A N, Petol G H and Joeman B D. (2016). Environmental education programme for RAMSAR by Rainforest Discovery Centre, Sabah Forestry Department. Paper presented at the 2nd Sabah’s Ramsar Conference 2016, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, 10 November, 125–132.

Bernard H, Baking E L, Giordano A J, Wearn O R and Ahmad A H. (2014). Terrestrial mammal species richness and composition in three small forest patches within an oil palm landscape in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. Mammal Study 39: 141–154. https://doi.org/10.3106/041.039.0303

Bernard H, Bili R, Matsuda I, Hanya G, Wearn O R, Wong A and Ahmad A H. (2016). Species richness and distribution of primates in disturbed and converted forest landscapes in Northern Borneo. Tropical Conservation Science 9(4): 1–11. https://doi.org/10.1177/1940082916680104

Camacho-Sanchez M, Hawkins M T R, Yu F T Y, Maldonado J E and Leonard J A. (2019). Endemism and diversity of small mammals along two neighboring Bornean mountains. PeerJ 7: e7858. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.7858

Freitag H, Pangantihon C V and Njunju? I. (2018). Three new species of Grouvellinus Champion, 1923 from Maliau Basin, Sabah, Borneo, discovered by citizen scientists during the first Taxon Expedition (Insecta, Coleoptera, Elmidae). ZooKeys 754: 1–21. https://doi.org/10.3897/zookeys.754.24276

Gomez L, Shepherd C R and Khoo M N. (2020). Illegal trade of sun bear parts in the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak. Endangered Species Research 41: 279–287. https://doi.org/10.3354/esr01028

Hanya G, Kanamori T, Kuze N, Wong S T and Bernard H. (2020). Habitat use by a primate community in a lowland dipterocarp forest in Danum Valley, Borneo. American Journal of Primatology 82(8): e23157. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajp.23157

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). (2021). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. https://www.iucnredlist.org (Accessed on 25 January 2021).

Kramer-Schadt S, Reinfelder V, Niedballa J, Lindenborn J, Stillfried M, Heckmann I and Wilting A. (2016). The Borneo carnivore database and the application of predictive distribution modelling. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology 33: 18–41.

Kurz D, Saikim F H, Justine T J, Bloem J, Libassi M, Luskin M S, Lauren L S, Goossens B, Brashares J S and Potts M D. (2020). Oil palm expansion reshapes indigenous hunting: Kadazandusun-Murut bearded pig hunting practices in Sabah, Malaysia (preprint). EcoEvoRxiv. https://doi.org/10.32942/osf.io/5ckg3

Larsen T H. (2016). Core standardized methods for rapid biological field assessment. Arlington: Conservation International.

Ocampo-Peñuela N, Garcia-Ulloa J, Kornecki I, Philipson C D and Ghazoul J. (2020). Impacts of four decades of forest loss on vertebrate functional habitat on Borneo. Frontiers in Forest and Global Change 3: 53. https://doi.org/10.3389/ffgc.2020.00053

Pantel S and Anak N A. (2010). A preliminary assessment of pangolin trade in Sabah. Petaling Jaya: TRAFFIC Southeast Asia.

Payne J and Davies G. (2013). Conservation of rain forest mammals in Sabah: long term perspectives. The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology 29: 187–201.

Phillipps Q and Phillipps K. (2018). Phillipps’ field guide to the mammals of Borneo and their ecology: Sarawak edition. United Kingdom: John Beaufoy Publishing.

Rijksen H D and Meijaard E. (1999). Our vanishing relative: The status of wild Orang-Utans at the close of the twentieth century. Netherlands: Springer.

Sabah Forestry Department (SFD). (2013). Strategic plan of action (Sabah) the Heart of Borneo Initiative (2014–2020). Sandakan: Sabah Forestry Department.

Sabah Forestry Department (SFD). (2016). Annual report 2016. Sandakan: Sabah Forestry Department.

Sabah Forestry Department (SFD). (2019). Annual report 2019. Sandakan: Sabah Forestry Department.

Sabah Forestry Department (SFD). (2020). Annual report 2020. Sandakan: Sabah Forestry Department.

Samejima H, Ong R, Lagan P and Kitayama K. (2012). Camera-trapping rates of mammals and birds in a Bornean tropical rainforest under sustainable forest management. Forest Ecology and Management 270: 248–256. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foreco.2012.01.013

Wearn O R and Glover-Kapfer P. (2019). Snap happy: camera traps are an effective sampling tool when compared with alternative methods. Royal Society Open Science 6: 181748. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.181748

Wildlife Conservation Enactment (WCE). (1997). Wildlife Conservation Enactment (Amendment 2017). https://sagc.sabah.gov.my/?q=en/content/wildlife-conservation-enactment-1997 (Accessed on 25 January 2021).

William-Dee J, Khan F A A, Rosli Q, Morni M A, Azhar I, Lim L S, Tingga R C T and Rahman M R A. (2019). Comparative distribution of small mammals diversity in protected and non-protected area of Peninsular Malaysia. Tropical Life Sciences Research 30(2): 131–147. https://doi.org/10.21315/tlsr2019.30.2.10

Wong A, Huaimei Y, Wong C and Shukor J A. (2012). A study on hunting activity of sambar deer and bearded pig in Paitan Forest Reserve, Pitas, Sabah, Malaysia. Journal of Tropical Biology and Conservation 9(1): 35–47.

World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). (2020). Heart of Borneo. https://wwf.panda.org/discover/knowledge_hub/where_we_work/borneo_forests/? (Accessed on 7 December 2020).

Zahidin M A, Roslan A, Marni W, Kombi M, Abdullah M T and Bako C R. (2016). Biodiversity assessment and updated checklist of faunal diversity in Bako National Park, Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo. Journal of Sustainability Science and Management 11(1): 53–72.