Securing a Future for Endangered Wildlife

Project Cost: $281,600

Funding Raised: $281,600

$1 per acre (1 acre = 43,560 sq ft)
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2X The Impact

As rainforests in Borneo continue to be destroyed Pygmy Elephants and Bornean Orangutans are struggling for survival in the island’s remaining forests. Rainforest Trust is working with local partners to permanently create a 282,000-acre reserve that will offer protection for these and other threatened species. Thanks to generous support from our donors, we have successfully reached our fundraising goal for this project.

The rainforests of Borneo, which date back more than 100 million years, are some of the earth’s oldest and most biodiverse, supporting thousands of endemic species. In total, 15,000 flowering plants species, 221 species of terrestrial mammals, and 420 species of birds are found in Borneo.

Until the later part of the 20th century dense rainforest carpeted nearly the entire island of Borneo. In the last several decades, however, industrial logging has decimated these forests at speeds exceeding even those found in the Amazon Basin. The rapid spread of palm oil plantations has exacerbated the danger posed to wildlife and extended the threat of extinction to hundreds of species.

Together with local partners, Rainforest Trust will help convert the state-owned Kuamut logging concession into a permanent 282,000-acre reserve in the Malaysian state of Sabah. Doing so will annul all logging plans, expand one of the island’s largest wildlife corridors, and significantly improve protection for some of the island’s most threatened species.

Fast Facts

Southeastern Sabah State, Malaysian Borneo

282,000 acres

Key Species
Bornean Orangutan (EN), Bornean Pygmy Elephant (EN), Clouded Leopard (VU)

Tropical rainforest

Commercial logging and expansion of oil palm plantations

Conversion of the Kuamut logging concession into protected forest reserve

Local Partners
Yayasan Sabah Foundation and Royal Society South‐East Asia Rainforest Research Program (SEARRP)

Financial Need

Price Per Acre


The lowland forests in Borneo’s Danum Valley area among the world’s most important – and threatened – biodiversity hotspots. The valley supports 340 species of birds, many endemic, and some recorded nowhere else. Over 60 species of amphibians, 75 reptile species, and 40 fish species are found in the area.

The valley is also home to Borneo’s Pygmy Elephant. Numbering less than 1,000 in total, many of these Elephants, which are the smallest in the world, depend on the Kuamut logging concession for survival. Studied for less than a decade, they remain one of the least understood Elephant species in the world. Inhabiting the canopy of these forests are Bornean Orangutans, the world’s largest tree-dwelling mammal. The Orangutan population in the Danum Valley likely exceeds 700 and forms part of the largest continuous population in the state of Sabah. Orangutans have enormous omnivorous diets that include approximately 400 types of food. Extremely intelligent, Bornean Orangutans have been known to use sticks to spear fish and leafy branches to protect themselves during rain storms. In addition to Orangutans, ten other primate species are found in the valley, including Bornean Gibbons and Horsfield’s Tarsiers.


The proposed reserve lies entirely within the Kuamut logging concession granted by the Sabah Forestry Department to Yayasan Sabah, a charitable foundation, and is eligible for on‐going commercial timber extraction or conversion to oil palm plantations.

Without the intervention of Rainforest Trust and its local partners, it is predicted that nearly 40% of the concession would be converted into monoculture plantations within the next 5 years. Ninety percent of the world’s total oil palm production takes place in Malaysia and Indonesia. Production on such a scale has exerted a tremendous pressure on the natural resources of both nations. Malaysia’s deforestation rate has been accelerating faster than any other tropical country. Between 1990 and 2010, it lost 4,744,423 acres of rainforest, approximately 8.6% of its total forest cover. Current satellite imagery shows that 80% of Malaysian Borneo’s tropical forest has now been degraded or destroyed by logging. The effects have been disastrous on the island’s wildlife, especially larger species that require substantial areas of intact forest to survive. Since 1950, the Bornean Orangutan population has dropped by more than 50%. Habitat loss and human-wildlife conflicts have halved the population of Pygmy Elephants in the last half century.


In the Malaysian state of Sabah, 39 different indigenous ethnic groups, known as Anak Negeri, account for 55% of the total population.

The largest of these groups, the Dusun, Murut, and Bajau, practice a variety of trades, including rice farming, herding, and subsistence agriculture. The nearest villages to the Kuamut logging concession are found to the north of its borders. The Kuamut forest management area has a long history of stable tenure with no conflicting land claims and extremely low levels of illegal logging and hunting. Little to no use is made of the forests within the management area by communities living outside of it.


The rate of forest destruction and conversion to oil palm plantations presents an urgent threat to Borneo’s wildlife that requires urgent action. Without the existence of large blocks of inter-connected forest, populations of Orangutans, Pygmy Elephants and many other species will continue to decline.

Collaborating with local partners, Rainforest Trust will assist in the conversion of the 282,000-acre Kuamut logging concession area into a permanent protected reserve that will expand one of the largest remaining wildlife corridors in the state of Sabah. To achieve this goal, our partners will work with the Sabah Forestry Department to ensure the area is formally declared as a permanent protected area through government declaration. By securing the protection of the Kuamut concession, the principal threats to the area, which include ongoing commercial logging and oil palm production, will be immediately removed. The Kuamut area has almost no history of encroachment, hunting or illegal logging. To ensure this does not change in the future, routine patrolling and increased vigilance at key access points will be conducted by the Sabah Wildlife Department. Outreach to surrounding village communities will also help to deter illegal hunting and logging.