The Kinabatangan River: Borneo’s Corridor of Life

Asia’s last forested floodplains are situated around the Kinabatangan River. Known as the “Corridor of Life,” these alluvial plains are one of two places in the world with ten primate inhabitants. But illegal logging and the rapid expansion of palm oil plantations threaten the future of these wildly diverse, Bornean forests. See why the Kinabatangan is worth protecting. Take a trip up river in photos.

 

 

Long-tailed macaques, a man-made monkey bridge, colorful stork-billed kingfisher, silvered langur and estuarine crocodile.

 

 

The Orang Sungai, or “River People,” have depended on the Kinabatangan for hundreds of years.

 

 

Nicknamed the “Dutchman” after European colonizers, the proboscis monkey is one of four primate species found only in Borneo.

 

 

The Kinabatangan River.

 

 

A rhinoceros hornbill, the national bird of Malaysia; bi-colored damselfly, estuarine crocodile and great egret along the Kinabatangan.

 

 

One of the four great apes and critically endangered, the name orangutan literally means “person of the forest.”

 

 

How to get involved

The demand for palm oil, timber and other natural materials is driving the destruction of Borneo’s rainforests. As consumers, there are small, simple things we can do to help minimize the destruction and support ongoing conservation efforts. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has a number of suggestions for how to help save Borneo’s forests including:

 

Be a conscious consumer

Even the most well-intentioned shopper may not realize that half of all packaged products sold in supermarkets contain palm oil. Many products made with palm oil are not clearly labeled, or may list palm oil and its derivatives under another name. There are hundreds of monikers to disguise palm oil. Become familiar with common names for palm oil and check all product and food labels for palm oil use. Opt for products that contain RSPO-certified sustainable palm oil, or consider a palm oil-free alternative. Free apps like PalmSmart and Sustainable Palm Oil Shopping can help to identify which products have met environmental standards.

 

Make a small donation

Organizations like The World Land Trust and The Rainforest Trust support conservation efforts through land acquisition, with crowd funding going directly towards the purchase of rainforest acreage.  The Borneo Project advocates and provides international support for community-led environmental campaigns in Borneo, and more than 80% of the organization’s funding comes from individual donations. Through the Indonesian non-profit Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF), supporters can symbolically adopt a rescued orangutan with donations going directly to their care and rehabilitation at the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Reintroduction Center near Central Kalimantan. The WWF also has orangutan and other species adoptions.

 

Travel responsibly

Ecotoursim supports conservation efforts by providing a way for communities to generate income while still protecting the environment. There are a number of ecolodges, ecotour companies and volunteer opportunities around Borneo including BOSF’s Samboja Lodge and Sukau Rainforest Lodge, one of the National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World. Wanderful has more on how to choose an ethical ecotour company anywhere in the world.

 

 

 

Photos taken during a multi-day boat tour of the Kinabatangan River with Borneo Eco Tours.