Borneo’s oldest national park, a popular choice for repeat visitors

The ‘Proboscis Monkey’ or ‘Orang Belanda’, symbolic of Borneo’s internationally-renowned and protected animal, is not the only reason why tourists keep returning by the droves for more.

The Bako National Park is another reason.

Borneo’s first and oldest national park has long been a popular choice for repeat visitors.

Located on the Muara tebas peninsula and gazetted as a national park, five decades ago, not much of its natural ambience and wildlife has been disturbed.

Only accessible by sea from the Bako fishing village, about a 20-minute drive from here, foreigners account for 70 per cent of the average 30,000 visitors annually.

Park manager Siali Aban attributes the 2,727-hectare park’s popularity with foreigners to its privacy and quietness. The Bako Park has been, and still is as it was. 

“The absence of illegal logging and fishing and the safeguarding of the native rights of the inhabitants of Bako Village and fishermen are some of the factors which see countless repeat visitors over the years,” he told Bernama during a 32-kilometer guided trek of the park today.

Siali is confident that the park’s annual revenue would reach the RM1 million mark in five years, from the current RM700,000, through integrated tourism and collaborative conservation and research projects.

The park – named after the mangrove, Rhizophora species or known locally as bakau/bako – is the top revenue earner in Sarawak, followed by the Unesco World Heritage Site of Mulu National Park.

Siali said, however, the park which is currently managed by the Sarawak Forestry Corporation, was mulling the possibility of imposing a two-tier entrance fee to encourage more domestic visitors so that they would be more aware of biodiversity conservation efforts being undertaken in protected areas.

With its rugged coastline of ancient rock formations and steep cliffs sheltering a few secluded beaches and mudflats, he said, the park was also promoting its sole island, Lankei Island, as a quiet destination for honeymooners. In terms of natural resources, the Bako National Park has over 600 species of flowering plants and 267 species of animals.

There are 196 species of birds, including the migratory ones from Siberia and China.

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