Borneo is the third largest island in the world and the largest island of Asia. It is located North of Java, West of Sulawesi, and East of Sumatra at the geographic center of Maritime Southeast Asia. The island is divided among Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia.
Borneo is home to one of the oldest rainforests in the world. Its highest point is Mount Kinabalu in Sabah with an elevation of 4095 meters ( 13435 ft). Borneo has significant cave systems. Clearwater Cave, for example, has one of the world’s longest underground rivers. Deer Cave is home to over three million bats.
There are few other places on Earth where you can see large, endangered animals such as orang-utans, elephants, tigers, leopards, bears and rhinos in the wild. Borneo has lured scientists for over 150 years, and has played a key role in the discovery of evolution. There are thousands of other animal and plant species and many species yet to be discovered.
Borneo lowland rain forest supports approximately 10,000 plant species, 380 bird species and several mammal species.The climate provides an ideal growing environment for approximately 10,000 species of plant (more than in the whole continent of Africa). Among these are some 2,000 orchids and 3,000 trees, including 267 Dipterocarpacea tropical rainforest trees, of which 155 are endemic to Borneo. This makes the island the center of the world’s diversity for dipterocarps.
The wildlife of this ecoregion consists of a large number of forest animals ranging from the world’s smallest squirrel, the least pygmy squirrel to the largest land mammal in Asia, the Asian elephant. It includes the critically endangered Sumatran rhinoceros, the endangered and iconic Bornean orangutan , twelve other species of primate, Bornean bearded pigs and Bornean yellow muntjac deer.
There are no tigers in Borneo; carnivores include the endangered clouded leopard, the sun bear, the otter civet, and several other mustelids and viverrids.
THREATS AND PRESERVATION
The greatest threats to the Heart of Borneo are logging, land-clearing and conversion activities. The increase in these activities is being matched by a growth in illegal wildlife trade, as cleared forests provide easy access to more remote areas.
However, it is not too late to save the Rain Forest, several NGOs as well as the Malaysian government are working hard, joining their efforts to preserve that exceptional heritage.
WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT PRESERVATION?
Heart of Borneo Rain Forest Foundation
Watch this TED Talk from Willie Smits to get more insights on the current situation.
Rainforest Rescue believes that to rebuild orangutan populations, we must first rebuild their forest habitat which means helping local people find options other than the short-term fix of harvesting forests to survive.
His Willie Smits raises money and awareness to restore habitat forests around the world — and to empower local people. In 2007, Masarang opened a palm-sugar factory that uses thermal energy to turn sugar palms (fast-growing trees that thrive in degraded soils) into sugar and even ethanol, returning cash and power to the community and, with luck, starting the cycle toward a better future for people, trees and orangs.