Mammals of Borneo Goes On-line

The compilation of a list of mammals of Borneo has come a very long way. This on-line checklist owed to many previous European travelers, traders, colonial officers, museum collectors, curators and biologists describing those species that are known to us today.

Department of Zoology
Faculty of Resource Science and Technology
Universiti Malaysia Sarawak
94300 Kota Samarahan
Sarawak, Malaysia

The compilation of a list of mammals of Borneo has come a very long way. This on-line checklist owed to many previous European travelers, traders, colonial officers, museum collectors, curators and biologists describing those species that are known to us today. It was only in 1960s that pioneering local biologists, namely Dr Lim Boo Liat of the Institute Medical Research and Professor H.S. Yong of the University Malaya, entered the scene by publication of survey and genetic research on mammals respectively. The establishment of the Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) has encouraged local scientists to explore the hinterland of Borneo and provided more research findings on new distribution records of mammals in Borneo

The historical records of European association with Borneo and its fauna were compiled by Lord Medway that was published in 1977 by the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society.

Briefly, the earliest known European travel account was by A. Pigafetta where on 15th July 1521 he landed in Brunei and saw some domesticated elephants. Olivier van Noort was the first Dutch to arrive in Brunei on 20th December 1600. In 1603 the Dutch East India Company established a footing at Banjermasin, followed by the British and Portuguese at Martapura. Later for about 200 years, there was spice trading and massive European colonists’ massacres and repression on the local people. In 1714, Daniel Beeckman noted about the fauna of large mammals such as deer, goats, buffaloes and “monkies” in the area.

From 1817 and 1818, the Dutch colonists claimed sovereignty over Banjermasin and appointed commissioner to administer the region. In 1836, Commissioner S. Müller and other colleagues collected some specimens around Banjermasin and lower reaches of the Barito River. Müller’s nominal lists were published in 1838 and 1839-40 became the basis of scientific research on mammals in Borneo.

In northwestern part of Borneo, James Brooke who was an avid collector, seized power in Sarawak in 1842 and welcomed British collectors to be his official guests. H. Low collected specimens in Sarawak in 1845-48 and published 61 species of Bornean mammals.

William T. Hornaday, an American collector and hunter, wrote in 1885 on his many hunting expeditions in Sebuyau and Simujan, Sarawak where he killed a total of 43 orang-utans. In 1888, Rajah Brooke established the Sarawak Museum in his effort for the preservation and conservation of the cultural heritage and natural history of Borneo. In 1893, Charles Hose who was a curator of Sarawak Museum published an account on the mammals of Borneo based on the museum collections and observations.

In the famous travelog by Alfred Russel Wallace published in 1896, called The Malay Archipelago, he wrote about his facination on hunting of Orang Hutan around the Kuching area. Earlier, Wallace wrote the precursor to the theory of evolution called the “Sarawak Law” based on his field work and observation at Mount Santubong.

From 1923 to 1932, F.N Chasen had published a monograph and contributed immensely on our knowledge of the taxonomy and distribution of mammals in the Malaysian region. In 1949, Edward Banks, published the first twentieth century species account called Bornean Mammals. Davis (1962) published on the mammals collected from the Murud-Kelabit highland in Sarawak.
Between 1938 to 1974, Tom Harrison and J.E Hill contributed considerable knowledge on the taxonomy, distribution and ecology of mammals of Borneo. John L. Harrison wrote a book titled An Introduction to the Mammals of Sabah in 1964 that was published by the Sabah Society. Later, Lord Medway 1977 presented the most complete list of mammals in Borneo and in 1985 Dr. John Payne, Dr Charles M. Francis and Karen Phillipps made further revisions of Medway’s work in the publication A field guide to the mammals of Borneo.

Over the last 21 years since Dr Payne’s publication, there were numerous articles being published on mammals of Borneo in local and international journals. The collation of information continued by Sarawak Museum and Sarawak Forestry Department. With the establishment of UNIMAS in 1993 many scientific expeditions into many interior parts of Sarawak has been carried out by members of the Animal Resource Science and Management (now known as Department of Zoology), IBEC and students. These expeditions were supported by various internal and external grants. Numerous new records and distributional list of mammals especially bats have been recorded for the state of Sarawak and Kalimantan.

These explorations resulted in providing information to managers and carry message of conservation throughout Borneo. Such information is essential as a first step to understanding the potential threats and conservation status of many mammalian species in this region. Wildlife protection is not similar within all the countries and states in Borneo.

The current provisional list of Mammals of Borneo is the collection of all those lists and recent publications, including conflicting or unconfirm records, is now being uploaded on-line by using

We selected Wikipedia because it is a free open access global knowledge portal that is currently ranked 17th in the world with more than 600 millions users contributing 1,423,525 articles in various fields. It is important that good information is distributed worldwide for the generation of new knowledge to benefit humanity. This is also an alternative method for the dissemination of information that could be readily accessed by ICT savvy researchers throughout the world.

The other benefit of using Wikipedia is to enable locally published research materials to go beyond the jungles of Borneo by being scanned by search engines that track such knowledge portals. Furthermore, Wikipedia saves Unimas millions of ringgit in taxpayers’ money to provide high-end servers that could be used for e-learning purposes by our students and instructors alike.

Our contributions to well established open access knowledge portal would also put our small stake on behalf of Unimas for our future generations to refer and to update our present knowledge of mammals of Borneo.

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Published: 25 Oct 2006

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Universiti Malaysia Sarawak94300 Kota SamarahanSarawak, Malaysia

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