Maliau Basin contains many outstanding natural features, including probably the greatest number of waterfalls anywhere in Malaysia. The most famed of these is the spectacular 7-tiered Maliau Falls on the Maliau River, the highest fall of which is a magnificent 28m. Maliau is also the home of the fabled Lake Linumunsut, Sabah’s only non-oxbow lake, situated below the outer banks of the northern escarpment. The indigenous Murut from the nearby forest, believe that a dragon dwells in Lake – Sabah’s only freshwater lake – at the bottom of the basin.
The isolated and mysterious Maliau Basin, also known as Sabah’s Lost World, has only recently begun to be investigated by researchers. Major expeditions in 1988, 1996, 2001, 2005 and 2006, and baseline studies during the joint Yayasan Sabah / DANIDA project, discovered a distinct and diverse flora of over 1,800 species, including at least 6 types of pitcher plant and more 80 species of orchid, several of which are new records for Sabah. The rare Rafflesia tengku-adlinii has also been found in Maliau Basin, one of only two known localities in Sabah, and two species completely new to science, a tree and a moss, have so far been discovered. Main forest dominated by majestic Agathis trees, rare montane heath forest and precious lowland and hill dipterocarp forest.
Although much of the terrain remains to be explored and studied, Maliau has already revealed itself to be the home of some of Sabah’s most rare and endangered wildlife species, including the Sumatran Rhinoceros, Banteng, Orang Utan and Proboscis Monkey. Others among the over 80 mammal species so far confirmed include Bornean Pygmy Elephant, Clouded Leopard and Malayan Sunbear.
An impressive bird list comprising nearly 300 species has been recorded to date, including the spectacular Bulwer’s Pheasant and Bornean Bristlehead. In fact Maliau has become a global hot spot for bird biodiversity with no less than one quarter of the bird species present listed as threatened by IUCN (the World Conservation Union).
More than 35 species of amphibian have so far been found, including a frog which makes its home in pitcher plants! Maliau has also yielded new species of fish, crab and water beetle, with no doubt many more species still to be discovered amongst its rich biodiversity.
**For wildlife viewing tips, please refer to Useful Tips above.