Danau Girang in Sabah


Danau Girang is a field center located deep upstream along the Kinabatangan River in Sabah Borneo. In early 2012, I had the pleasure of visiting this place and spending one night here where I was to learn what exactly they did here. The journey to Danau Girang from Semporna took us to Kampung Menggaris which is uniquely located under a huge metal bridge on the main road (Highway A5). From here, there is a small wooden jetty where the a tiny 25 horsepower boat was waiting to take us to the field centre. A scenic cruise that took almost 45 minutes upstream the Kinabatangan was amazing as I noticed a lot of wildlife especially birds like hornbills, kingfishers, egrets and even the rare oriental darter. Apart from that, I only saw pure wildlife at its best. No resorts, no lodge, no villages.. there was absolutely nothing but breathtaking scenery.

Danau Girang Field Centre in Kinabatangan

During the boat ride, I causally asked if there were crocodiles here, the captain nodded his head and said the largest seen was about 5 meters long. He also explained further that the center had also participated in capturing a few of these crocodiles along the Kinabatangan for research and collaring. After a very interesting chat along the way, we reached our destination which was just a ramp-way for boats. No building was seen in sight and this was the field center, explained the captain.

Danau Girang at the Kinabatangan River

Walking in about 500 meters, I finally saw the research centre and being introduced to the field center manager - Mr. Mark Rampangajouw, he briefed me about the entire place in one afternoon. There were at least 15 persons working and living here where half of them are students from abroad. Collaring of the well known Pygmy Elephant and crocodiles was one of the main research conducted here apart from the many other studies on the ecology and genetics of the orangutan, clouded leopard, proboscis monkey and long-tailed macaque. This was indeed one of the best educational trips I have done in a very long time.

Main building

The Danau Girang Field Centre is a collaborative research and training facility which is managed by Cardiff University and the Sabah Wildlife Department which is situated in Lot 6 of the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary and is surrounded by a mixture of lowland dipterocarp forest types. There are also no lodges or resorts here unlike the main Kinabatangan River where wildlife and eco tourist flock too.So if you are seeking a wildlife adventure, I would recommend you take one of the general Kinabatangan River Cruises which are sold by most tour operators around Sabah.

 Danau Girang Research Centre

I was introduced to most of the researchers there before taken for a full tour of the entire place. Each of them were from different countries from around the world and had different parts in their research. Outside the centre, Mark showed me an Elephant Tracking Collar which was used on the rare Bornean Pygmy Elephant. Asking if there was anymore collaring going on, he told me that only if there was news from headquarters, they would then go and look for the mammal. Before calling it a night, we had a local dinner which was cooked by a local lady chef. The food was simply amazing and one of the best I had in a long time. I can only imagine how happy these researches are to have her there.

 Photo of staff capturing a crocodile for collaring ~ Photo by Danau Girang

Danau Girang lab

Elephant tracking collar

 Basic sleeping quarters for volunteers

The above is the common guest or volunteer room that I stayed at when I visited here. They are plain, simple and basic with a common toilet. When the lights go off at 10pm, you feel like being transformed deep into the rainforest. The sound of insects and nocturnal animals come alive and you feel like you are one with nature. 

 A flock of birds fly along the Kinabatangan River

 Kinabatangan River at Lot 6

Crocodile bank at Kinabatangan

Danau Girang Map

If you are interested in participating in a volunteer program or any other research, you are advised to contact Mr. Mark from Danau Girang Field Centre. From there, he will inform you or any party what are the necessary procedures required for this. The centre also has an active Facebook Page for more information on their daily activity and progress. You can only arrange with the centre if you want to make a visit here as currently there are no commercial tours or trips available to Danau Girang in Sabah.

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