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Legal classification    Location & access    Infrastructure    History & management    Settlement & adjacent land-use    Physical environment    Vegetation    Fauna    Research    Threats & constraints    Prehistory   Recommendation

Last updated: 22 Apr 2005

Survey not carried out.

Legal classification

Class VI Virgin Jungle Reserve (VJR)

AreaApprox. 5867 ha.

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Location & access

The VJR is divided into 2 blocks, here described as Block I (Madai) and Block II (Baturong). Block I is located along the Lahad Datu-Tawau main road, between the bridge over Sg. Tingkayu and the junction to Kunak. It is about 16 km from Kunak town and about 98 km from Tawau. Block II is located further inland, about 10 km west of Block I.



The Madai-Baturong Forest Recreation Centre is located in the northwestern portion of Block I, where the Lahad Datu-Tawau main road traverses the VJR. It comprises of a visitor centre, a surau, a canteen, changing rooms and toilets, a canopy walkway and a forest trail system. There are also staff quarters near the centre. The centre was built near a 40 m waterfall, which is the main attraction.


History & management

Creation—The FR was first gazetted in 1932 with an area of about 10,603 ha. Parts of the area was degazetted in 1960 and 1962 with a total area of about 4,172 ha. In 1971, an area--called Madai-Baturong Extension 1--of about 11,914 ha was incorporated into the reserve. In 1977, both the reserve and the extension was partially dereserved. The area was about 2,299 ha. Later, the two remaining areas were regazetted as Class VI FR in 14/3/1984.


Management responsibility—Mukim Madai, Kunak District Forestry Office.


Boundary matters—The FR boundary has yet to be demarcated.


Management plan—None.


Current use—The Madai-Baturong Forest Recreation Centre is mainly visited by travelers as a rest-stop. On weekends, visitors come to swim in the river next to the waterfall. They are mainly from Kunak, Lahad Datu and even Tawau. The centre is also a popular choice for nearby schools to hold nature camps. The collection of bird's nests from the limestone outcrops is managed by the Wildlife Department. There are 23 and 38 caves in Madai and Baturong outcrops respectively.

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Settlements & adjacent land-use

The VJR is surrounded by oil palm plantations and a few villages.


Physical environment

Topography—Block I mainly occurs on very high hills, slopes are generally between 15° and 25°, but many are steeper. The limestone outcrop is steep with sheer cliffs. Block II is mainly occurs on terraces of old alluvium at heights over 450 m. The terraces are, in general, flat to slightly undulating with short steep slopes in dissected parts.


Hydrology—Sg. Tingkayu flows through Block I at its northwestern corner. Sg. Binuang, a tributary of Sg. Tingkayu, flows through Block II.


Soils—Block I is mainly Bang Association, with Gomantong (limestone outcrop), Bidu Bidu (close to the main road) and Table (south and west) Associations. Block II is mainly Brantian Association, with Gomantong (limestone outcrop) and Gumpal Associations.

See soil map here

Meteorological data—See data from Madai-Lormalong and Kalumpang-Kunak met stations.

Map of met. stations    Rainfall map


See current vegetation map here

See natural vegetation map here

See satellite image here

Most of the vegetation of Baturong (Block II) is intact. The forest there is made of 3 different forest types, namely lowland mixed dipterocarp--kerangas forest, mixed dipterocarp forest and limestone forest. Lowland MDF--kerangas covers almost all of Block II. Patches of MDF can be found near the southern border. The limestone massif in the central portion supports limestone flora.


The northern border of Block I (Madai) has been encroached in the past. The vegetation consists of secondary forest and agricultural crops. However, the other part of the block is relatively intact. Lowland MDF covers most areas; lowland ultramafic forest is found along the northern boundary and limestone vegetation is found on the limestone massif in the central part.



According to locals and Forestry Department staff living near the VJR, there are long-tail and short-tail macaques, red leaf monkeys, orang-utans, gibbons, wild boars and various deer in the blocks. There are also many species of birds, squirrels and other mammals. However, no proper faunal survey by the Forestry Department has been carried out to date.


Aerial and ground surveys were conducted in these 2 blocks in July 2003. These were part of a statewide orang-utan census carried out by HUTAN (an NGO based in Sukau, Kinabatangan) and the Sabah Wildlife Department. Orang-utan population densities were estimated to be 0.24 and 0.1 individual per square kilometre for Madai and Baturong respectively. The population is regarded as small, highly insecure and isolated. The small group in the VJR (2 blocks) represents the eastern limit of the species range in this area.


Wildlife living in the blocks are totally isolated from other populations.




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Threats & constraints

Hunting—Hunting of small mammals by surrounding oil palm plantation workers is a major threat to the wildlife of the two blocks of the VJR.


Encroachment—There were some signs of land clearing the northeastern part of Block I along the road to the caves.



The caves in Block I has prehistoric artifacts and has been mapped out and published in the Sabah Society Journal. Archeologists believe that cavemen lived in this region as early as 20,000 years ago around the shores of Lake Tingkayu. When the lake dried out, they moved to the limestone massif of Baturong (in Block II) and eventually shifted further east to the Madai caves (in Block I).



  1. The forest recreation centre, located strategically along the Lahad Datu-Tawau Highway, serves as an important rest-stop for long-haul travelers. Facilities should be improved to encourage visitation. Revenue generated from entrance fees and other sales can be used to maintain the centre.

  2. The surrounding forest consists of various forest types; MDF, limestone vegetation and ultramafic vegetation. This interesting combination of various forest types can be exploited to educate locals on forest conservation. An well-managed environment education programme can be established for this purpose.

  3. A full-time Manager must be stationed at the Centre to manage its development.

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