Gomantong Cave

Background

Gomantong Cave is located in Gomantong Forest Reserve Class VI (Virgin Forest) with an area of ​​3,297 hectares, in Kinabatangan District. It is a limestone outcrop that forms the largest limestone hills in this area. In the limestone hills there are at least 19 caves which for centuries have resulted swallows to build their swallow's nest there. Gomantong Cave is one of the caves listed in Part II of Schedule 4 of the government owned caves as set out in section 85 (1) of the Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997 (EPHL97). Gomantong Cave is an example of the success of the Sabah State Government through the Department of Wildlife that ensures the preservation of “in-situ” of two swallow’s species (Cistothorus platensis and Aeordramus maximus). Systematic bird nest harvesting management ensures that both populations of swallow’s species will remain forever.

Gomantong Cave Bird’s Nests

Bird nests that are produced in this cave are the best in the world. There are two types of nests produced in Gomantong Caves (Black nest and White nest).The harvest and collection of bird's nests are conducted twice a year and is regulated by the Department of Wildlife, as provided in section 85 ( 6 ) EPHL97 . White nest harvesting is done in February and August, while the black nests are harvested in April and August. The task of harvesting birds' nests in Gomantong Cave is done by contractors appointed by the government through a tender system, different from Madai Cave where the harvest is done by the heirs of the cave. Black and white nests produced in 15 caves and the remaining 4 caves just produce black nest only. The market price for a kilogram of white nests can reach up to RM7000 while for black nest is between 3,000 - RM4000 per kilogram.

Facts about Swallows Breeding

Swallows species that produce black nests have a slower breeding periods compared with Swallows species that produce white nests. For the Swallows that produce white nests, their egg incubation period is 23 days and when the chicks hatches, it needs a period of six weeks to learn how to fly and then it will leave their mother’s nests. While for the Swallows that produce black nest, the incubation period is 28 days and when it hatches, the chicks requires a period of 8 weeks to learn how to fly and then it will leave their mother’s nests. Therefore, harvesting the two types of bird's nests can only be harvested after 3 ½ - 4 months after the birds lay their eggs.

Fun Facts about Gomantong Cave

  • Bird’s nests harvesting activities is an incredibly unique and impressive sight which can be seen during the harvest season. The workers who harvest these birds nest used traditional tools such as “piatau”, “gegulug”, “sesungkit” and “ambong” to harvest the bird’s nests. All equipment is made of rattan and bamboo. The ability of these workers which is climbing the “gegulug” and standing on the floating “piatau” provides an exceptional view for visitors.
  • The change of "shifts" between swallows and bats can be seen every evening between of 5:15p.m to 6:15p.m. Currently visitors can see a collection of bats which is estimated at 2 million bats flying out of the cave while the swallows fly into the cave. This phenomenon is clearly visible near the mouth area of “Simud Putih” cave.
  • The presence of other wildlife such as orang- utans, “lotong merah”, Hornbills, apes and monkeys in/near the cave is something familiar.
  • Bird lovers can also go there to bird-watch on the provided trails.

Facilities

Gomantong Caves can now be reached because of the paved road 35 km from Kota Kinabatangan town and is 110km from the Sandakan town. There are no public transport services but visitors can rent vehicles from Sandakan Town. There is a Visitor Centre at Gomantong Cave which is equipped with meeting rooms, administrative offices, exhibition rooms, prayer room and a canteen. There is also a public toilet, outdoor and indoor "board walk" at “Simud Hitam” cave.

Entrance Fee

The entrance fee (as stated by the Sabah Wildlife Department):

Local

RM5.00 (Adults)

RM2.00 (Students)

Non-Local

RM30.00

Visitors are only allowed to enter the limited designated areas of Gomantong Caves. Any visitors or researchers who wish to enter other areas in Gomantong Forest Reserve need to get permissions from the Forestry Department first.