Gunung Mulu National Park

northern Sarawak, island of Borneo
N4 7 59.988 E114 55 0.012
Date of Inscription: 2000
Property : 52,864 ha
Ref: 1013
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Important both for its high biodiversity and for its karst features, Gunung Mulu National Park, on the island of Borneo in the State of Sarawak, is the most studied tropical karst area in the world. The 52,864-ha park contains seventeen vegetation zones, exhibiting some 3,500 species of vascular plants. Its palm species are exceptionally rich, with 109 species in twenty genera noted. The park is dominated by Gunung Mulu, a 2,377 m-high sandstone pinnacle. At least 295 km of explored caves provide a spectacular sight and are home to millions of cave swiftlets and bats. The Sarawak Chamber, 600 m by 415 m and 80 m high, is the largest known cave chamber in the world.

Gunung Mulu National Park, situated in the Malaysian State of Sarawak on the island of Borneo, is outstanding both for its high biodiversity and for its karst features. The park is dominated by Gunung Mulu, a 2,376 m-high sandstone pinnacle and the property is the most studied tropical karst area in the world. The geological Melinau Formation contains a remarkable concentration of caves, revealing a geological history of over more than 1.5 million years.

High in endemism, Gunung Mulu National Park provides significant natural habitat for a wide range of plant and animal species, both above and below ground. The 52,865 ha park contains seventeen vegetation zones, exhibiting some 3,500 species of vascular plants. Its palm species are exceptionally rich, with 109 species in twenty genera recorded, making it one of the worlds richest sites for palm species. Providing protection for a substantial area of Borneo’s primary tropical forest and a home for a high diversity of species, including many endemics and threatened species, the large cave passages and chambers provide a major wildlife spectacle in terms of millions of cave swiftlets and bats.

The property is home to one of the world’s finest examples of the collapse process in karstic terrain and provides outstanding scientific opportunities to study theories on the origins of cave faunas.  The deeply-incised canyons, wild rivers, rainforest-covered mountains, spectacular limestone pinnacles, cave passages and decorations found within the property produce dramatic landscapes and breathtaking scenery that is without rival.

Important both for its high biodiversity and for its karst features, Gunung Mulu National Park, on the island of Borneo in the State of Sarawak, is the most studied tropical karst area in the world. The 52,864-ha park contains seventeen vegetation zones, exhibiting some 3,500 species of vascular plants. Its palm species are exceptionally rich, with 109 species in twenty genera noted. The park is dominated by Gunung Mulu, a 2,377 m-high sandstone pinnacle. At least 295 km of explored caves provide a spectacular sight and are home to millions of cave swiftlets and bats. The Sarawak Chamber, 600 m by 415 m and 80 m high, is the largest known cave chamber in the world.

Criterion (vii): Gunung Mulu National Park is an area of exceptional natural beauty, with striking primary forest, karst terrain, mountains, waterfalls and the largest caves on earth. Sarawak Chamber, the largest cave chamber in the world, stretches 600 m in length by 415 m wide and 80 m high. With a volume of 12 million cubic meters and an unsupported roof span of 300 m, this chamber dwarfs any other large chamber so far discovered. Deer Cave at 120 to 150 m in diameter is the largest cave passage in the world known at the present time and the Clearwater Cave System holds the world record as the longest cave in Asia at 110 km of mapped and explored passages. As some of the largest caves in the world they contain fine examples of tropical river caves, flood incuts, vadose, and phreatic caves, exhibiting fine examples of all types of speleothems (structures formed in a cave by the deposition of minerals from water).

Criterion (viii): The park is an outstanding example of major changes in the earth’s history. Three major rock formations are evident; the Mulu Formation of Paleocene and Eocene shale’s, and sandstone, rising to 2,376 m at the summit of Gunung Mulu: the 1.5 km thick Melinau Limestone formation of Upper Eocene, Oligocene and Lower Miocene, rising to 1,682 m at Gunung Api; and the Miocene Setap Shale formation outcropping as a gentle line of hills to the west. Major uplift that occurred during the late Pliocene to Pleistocene is well represented in the 295 km of explored caves as a series of major cave levels. The surface and underground geomorphology and hydrology reveal significant information on the tectonic and climatic evolution of Borneo. The sequence of terrestrial alluvial deposits provides an important record of glacial – interglacial cycles with the series of uplifted caves ranging from 28 m to over 300 m above sea level are at least 2 to 3 million years old, indicating uplift rates of about 19 cm per 1,000 years.

Criterion (ix): The property provides significant scientific opportunities to study theories on the origins of cave fauna with over 200 species recorded, including many troglobitic species and it displays outstanding examples of ongoing ecological and biological processes. Seventeen vegetation zones have been identified along with their diverse associated fauna. Some 3,500 species of plants, 1,700 mosses and liverworts and over 4,000 species of fungi have been recorded within the property. There are 20,000 species of invertebrates, 81 species of mammals, 270 species of birds, 55 species of reptiles, 76 species of amphibians and 48 species of fish.

Criterion (x): The property supports one of the richest assemblages of flora to be found in any area of comparable size in the world. It is botanically-rich in species and high in endemism, including one of the richest sites in the world for palm species and contains outstanding natural habitats for in-situ conservation for a large number of species; Deer Cave alone has one of the largest colonies in the world of free tailed bats, Chaerephon plicata at over 3 million. This one cave also has the largest number of different species of bats to be found in a single cave. Several million cave swiftlets (Aerodramus sp.) have been recorded from one cave system, constituting the largest colony in the world. Many species of fauna are endemic and 41 species are included on the endangered species list.

Suggested Bases:

Long Seridan is a Kelabit settlement in the Miri division of Sarawak, Malaysia. It lies approximately 590 kilometres (367 mi) east-north-east of the state capital Kuching. Long Seridan Airport has a STOL runway, originally built by Gurkha engineers in 1963. There are several homestays where tourists can stay and enjoy the local jungle trekking, fishing and visiting Penan settlements [read more].

Limbang is a small town in northern-most part of Sarawak, Malaysia. It is the capital of the division of the same name. While it has the pleasant atmosphere of an isolated Sarawak interior administrative centre, Limbang does not have that much to offer the traveller. However, you may find yourself here if travelling overland from Sabah to Sarawak or vice-versa. Limbang is also one start/end of the Headhunter’s Trail to/from Mulu National Park. Limbang is geographically peculiar as it is sandwiched between two parts of Brunei. This situation was created in 1890 when the White Rajahs of Sarawak forced the Sultan of Brunei to cede the Limbang district. Till today, the Sultanate continues a not-much-heard-of territorial claim over Limbang. Because of the undeveloped interior of the district, most transportation links between Limbang and the rest of Sarawak have to go through Brunei. Limbang’s airport (LMN) lies about 5km from town on the road to Pandaruan and Temburong [read more].

Miri is a city in Sarawak, Malaysia. It is the second largest city in the state (with a population of about 300,000) and is on its northern coast near the border with Brunei. Known by its nickname “Oil Town”, Miri is the birthplace of the Malaysian petroleum industry, as the city was founded in 1910 when the first oil well was drilled by Royal Dutch Shell. Petroleum has continued to drive the city’s economy and development ever since. Miri is the main tourist gateway to various national parks, which makes it a favourite ecotourism destination and can be arguably called the “Resort City”. The Sarawak Shell Berhad and Petronas Carigali are headquartered here. As a result, Miri has a cosmopolitan whiff as it hosts expatriates from all over the world. These expats work in many of the multinational oil and gas giants that are headquartered in Miri. Visitors stop for transit here to change planes before heading onward to Gunung Mulu National Park or the famous Kelabit Highlands [read more].

One comment

  • After exploring the caves, the bat observatory deck located outside of Deer Cave is a fantastic place to stop and enjoy the thousands of bats flying out of the caves in the early evening. For a more precarious activity, take the rough trails that lead to Mulu’s Pinnacles, a cluster of large, protruding, razor-sharp rock formations situated on Mount Api’s limestone hills. The rock formations were created by heavy rain that eroded the rocks over millions of years.

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