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Why I Keep Coming Back to Sabah?

BirdLife International Vice Chairman for Southeast Asia, Henry Goh, shares what the State has to offer to outdoor wildlife buffs

Sabah always has a special place in my heart. My first wildlife adventure trip was in 2013 and I have been back to the ‘Land Below The Wind’ every year since. Each trip has always offered something new and this has kept my spirits high. I am already thinking of the next trip upon my return.

The abundance of wildlife here is well known and has attracted nature lovers like bees to honey. There are countless activities to indulge and cater to everyone’s fancy – from the lofty mountains to the sea, from the pristine rainforests to rivers. Sabah has it all!

Allow me to share a small part of my experience extracted from my repeated trips to various parts of Sabah. The mighty Kinabatangan River offers excellent sightings of mammals, birds and nocturnal amphibians and reptilians. Traversing the river accords one a great view of animals in their natural wild habitats. And pictures capture the essence of a trip and store them permanently as a life-long memory.

The Rainforest Discovery Centre (RDC) located in Sepilok, Sandakan has an aura that is difficult to erase once one has set foot on the well-marked trails. The canopy walk provides a whole new dimension to see birds at-eye-level. Walking on the sturdy floor accords comfort and a fantastic elevation to watch birds and wildlife forage for food which one would otherwise be content with watching at a much further distance from ground, with the help of a pair of binoculars.

Sabah has many endemic birds and one will be spoilt for choice when seeking them out. Some species share the same common names as those in Peninsula Malaysia. However, there are distinct differences in the overall appearance which makes it all the more interesting to study them. Two examples that have common names are the Banded Kingfisher and Hooded Pitta. The East Malaysia sub-species have a black face whilst the same namesake in West Malaysia spots a brownish face. Another example is the Hooded Pitta of West Malaysia has a brown crown whereas the endemic hooded pitta of East Malaysia has black head feathers.   

The paddy fields in the Panampang and mudflats of Sepanggar offer a good variety of migratory shore birds between September and March each year. For those seeking the cool climate to chill and bird watching there is Kinabalu Park and GunungAlap just to name two. 

Most memorable moments

My most memorable birding and bird photography adventure was in and around the mighty Kinabatangan River. Having made three consecutive trips there is proof of my admiration of this great ow-bow lake has to offer in terms of a myriad of wild life. 

Each trip I found something new and the excitement does not seem to end. For outdoor adventure buffs, I would strongly recommend to pack your bags and head for Kinabatangan River. The adventure begins immediately as one sets foot on the planked walkway. I am referring to the Kinabatangan Wetlands Resort (KWR) where I made new and long-lasting friendship with the friendly staffers. 

It was in the KWR vast playground that I recorded my first sighting of a unique looking pair of Sunda Frogmouth. Traversing the river daily, I will find new and special wildlife and enjoy the unusual occasion of sipping your favourite coffee or tea in a boat anchored in a large body of water hyacinths. Returning to the resort pitch dark is an adventure in itself. The knowledge of the topography and expert navigation skill of the captain of the boat would bring us winding and weaving the huge river to avoid colliding with floating logs or a croc or two!  

Make Sabah your next holiday destination. Believe you me you will not be disappointed.

100 years of BirdLife, the world leader in bird conservation

BirdLife International is the world’s largest nature conservation Partnership. Together we are over 100 BirdLife Partners worldwide – one per country – and growing. 

We are driven by our belief that local people who have been working for nature in their own places but connected nationally and internationally through our global Partnership, are the key to sustaining all life on this planet. This unique local-to-global approach delivers high impact and long-term conservation for the benefit of nature and people.

BirdLife is widely recognised as the world leader in bird conservation. Rigorous science informed by practical feedback from projects on the ground in important sites and habitats enables us to implement successful conservation programmes for birds and all nature.

We believe that our actions are providing both practical and sustainable solutions significantly benefiting nature and people. On this website you will find many examples of BirdLife success stories from every corner of the globe.

In my position as a Vice Chairman of BirdLife Asia Council, my colleagues and I have the most rewarding opportunity to set the direction and policies – all in support of the BirdLife Partners in the Asian Region. There is only one Partner in each country. 

The BirdLife Asia Partnership currently consists of 13 national grassroots conservation NGOs, plus BirdLife in Indochina, which is active in a further three countries. All are guided by the global policies deliberated and set at the Birdlife Global Council, headquartered in Cambridge, United Kingdom.  We are a global family of over 115 national Partners covering all continents, landscapes and seascapes. 

With regional offices in Accra, Amman, Brussels, Cambridge, Nairobi, Singapore, Suva, Tokyo, and Quito, we are the largest international partnership for nature conservation. We have over 13 million individual members and supporters, and unify over 100 nature conservation organizations from across the planet.

We share the belief that people working for nature in their own local patch, connected to others elsewhere, is the key to sustaining all life on this planet. Our unique local-to-global approach delivers high impact and long-term conservation for the benefit of nature and people.

We organize our work strategically around Species, Sites, Society and Systems – linking up birds, habitats and nature, and people. 

We take a critical look at the ways in which we consume our natural resources and the choices we make in areas such as finance, government policy, land and sea use.  

In this way we can tackle effectively the underlying causes of the destruction of our planet, change our behavior and our choices to ensure our children’s and grandchildren’s future. 

We are working to save the planet, nature and bird species all over the world in many different ways. 

To know more about BirdLife International visit www.birdlife.org

“We are driven by our belief that local people who have been working for nature in their own places but connected nationally and internationally through our global Partnership, are the key to sustaining all life on this planet. This unique local-to-global approach delivers high impact and long-term conservation for the benefit of nature and people” – HENRY GOH

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