Borneo Bird Festival 2018 Event Review

Review of Borneo Bird Festival 2018

This year, the 10th Borneo Bird Festival took place in its inaugural home ground at the Rainforest Discovery Center or RDC in Sepilok, Sandakan. This is also in the east coast part of Sabah Borneo. 

Being one of the most influential bird watching events held in Malaysia, this festival sees a beautiful balance among nature, conservation and most importantly education. 

Never before has a yearly bird festival take the initiative to promote bird conservation and awareness on such a large scale, and the Borneo Bird Festival is one to do it.

Review Of The Borneo Bird Festival 2018

Sabah Rainforest Discovery Centre in Sepilok
Entrance to the Rainforest Discovery Centre in Sepilok, Sandakan

Created purely by bird watchers for bird lovers, this unique festival was conceptualized by the Sandakan Borneo Bird Club back in 2008.

Originally, with the influence of the bird club and its members, the word spread around to what it has become today. 

This year, the bird festival saw over 2000 participants and visitors attending, with fringe events, conservation talks and a variety of vendors.

The overall atmosphere of the event was more curiosity than a general event as visitors were keen to see and learn about birds and bird watching.

This year around the festival saw industry players from the tour agencies, nature resorts, optics, cameras and NGOs participating.

Sabah Datuk Rosmadi Datu Sulai
Datuk Rosmadi Datu Sulai giving his speech on behalf of Datuk Christina Liew

Official Opening And Speech

The official opening of the event was launched by YB Datuk Rosmadi Datu Sulai, Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment Sabah.

Originally, YB Datuk Christina Liew, who is the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment for Sabah, but due to unfortunate circumstances, she was unable to attend this event.

In his speech, he clearly wanted Sabah to be a leader in the bird watching industry. This was made into a mission for the Borneo Bird Club President Gary Albert.

Bird watching is a lucrative business where it is bringing in quality visitors who will not stinge on services and accommodation.

This was also compared to general commercial tourism in terms of tourism revenue or tourism spending in Sabah.

2018 Borneo Bird Festival Opening
Guest during the launching of the Borneo Bird Festival 2018 at RDC in Sandakan

Datuk Rosmadi also put it as a comparison with golf tourism, where golfers will fly in for at least five days to play some of the unique golf courses in Sabah.

He mentioned that if the golfers could do that, why not promote bird watching in Sabah on a similar level.

The opening ceremony was closed with a launching of a new bird book on Borneo by Wong Tsu Shi, with Datuk Rosmadi.

Sabah Bird Festival Review
Some of the trails where the bird race is conducted

Bird Race And Bird Photography Competition

This years bird race saw 12 teams participating in a two-day race to spot the most number of birds around the Rainforest Discovery Center. In the end, the winning team was spotted a record-breaking number of 120 birds.

For the bird photography contest, a total of 40 entrants were collected a year before the actual festival date, and it was judged on the final day of the festival.

Jitspics Sanjit Paal
Sanjit giving his talk about merging Arts and Science

Talks At The Borneo Bird Festival 

As usual, every year, several reputable speakers will be invited to give their 30-minute talks which cover conservation, bird migration, bird tourism and also about birding in other countries.

Speakers came from as far as Cambodia and even Kuala Lumpur to share their expertise on the various subjects including a strong focus on nature conservation.

Pemenang 2018 Larian Borneo Bird Festival
The Borneo Bird Run 2018 winners

Borneo Bird Run 

A special bird-themed marathon that is in the third year was one of the general public highlights on Sunday where over 500 participants from around Sandakan turned up for the Borneo Bird Run.

The event is a fun run which takes runners through the inner roads of Sepilok, and through the nature trails of the RDC before finishing at the event grounds.

Borneo Bird Festival Marathon
One of the marathon winners was also celebrating his birthday on the same day

Some of the runners came dressed with the bird theme as it was purely a fun run, and everyone finished the run, to collect the marathon medal.

Photos at the Borneo Bird Festival 2018

Below are some random photos were taken during the two-day bird watching event here in Sandakan, Sabah. Photos were all taken using my Oppo R9s Smartphone.

Launch of Borneo Bird Festival
The opening performance for the Borneo Bird Festival 2018

Sabah Pesta Burung
Main registration section for the festival

Food Drink Stalls Borneo Bird Festival
The food and drink vendors at the event in RDC, Sandakan

Sabah Sandakan Zumba Session
A Zumba session taking place at the festival

Wong Tsu Shi Birds of Borneo Book
Datuk Rosmadi checking out the Birds of Borneo book by Wong Tsu Shi during the launch

Bird Watchers Cambodia
Cambodia birding group at their booth during the festival

Conservation Booth Borneo Bird Festival
One of the NGO booths during the Borneo Bird Festival

David Hogan Jr and Henry Goh
Taking a selfie moment with Mr Henry Goh of Malaysia Nature Society and BirdLife International

Bird Photographers from Sabah
The amazing bird watchers and bird guides of Sabah Borneo


With the success of this event is fully managed by the Sandakan Borneo Bird Club, this years event saw a slight rise in new bird watchers, naturalist and also conservationist that attended the event.

Having being managed independently, this is truly one of the best homegrown events that take place in Sandakan and known as the Borneo Bird Festival.

For the next event, the Borneo Bird Festival 2019 will most likely take place in the city of Tawau, which is further southeast of Sabah Borneo.

Malaysia Asia

Blogging since 2007, but writing online since 1997. I belong to the 1st generation of worldwide bloggers, which is of course old-school. Since 2008, I created Malaysia Asia and this travel, flood, gadget and lifestyle blog has won numerous physical awards from tourism boards around Malaysia. (Not those online awards). After 12 years of blogging, I have semi-retired and now blog about things I like, do product reviews and enjoy life. My work has been featured in Lonely Planet, CNN Travel, Yahoo Travel, Wall Street Journal, and many other international publications. Find out more about me and thank you.

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