Crocker Range Park
Introduction and history
The Crocker Range National Park (CRNP) is situated in the Crocker Range, Sabah. Crocker Range was designated to be a forest reserve in 1968. CRNP was then established in 1984 to protect the water catchments area that is supplying clean drinking water to the West Coast and the interior of Sabah. It was then renamed to Taman Banjaran Crocker (Crocker Range Park) in 1996 and managed by the Sabah Parks. Additionally the rising concern to protect its rich biodiversity and rare species of flora and fauna inhabiting these forest areas had been the prime mover in the initiative to gazette it as a National Park. The Park is surrounded by numerous settlements of the Kadazandusun and Murut communities harbouring moderately fast growing population practicing mainly shifting agriculture.
The CRNP is situated in the world’s third largest island, Borneo, in the state of Sabah of Malaysia. The Crocker Range divides the western coastal plains from the rest of Sabah on the south of the great Mount Kinabalu (the tallest mountain in Malaysia). Lying more than 300 metres above sea level, it spreads over 139,919 hectares of densely forested terrain. The spine of Sabah is the nickname given to the Crocker Range. Lying north-east and South-we sternly, this range divides Sabah into two, the western and interior eastern parks. It stretches from south of Kundasang in the north to Tenom in the south.
Located in the park is the Padas River, which bisects the range between Beaufort and Tenom on its journey southwest. It is impassable to boats due to the boulders strewn along the swift flowing Padas Gorge hence making this place the best white water rafting sport in Island of Borneo. However, human ingenuity led to the construction of a railway alongside the scenic gorge. Roads crossing the range have also made the interior more accessible from the coastal areas making it possible for visitors to enjoy the serene tranquility in the rugged mountains.
CRNP receives a rainfall of 3,000-4,000 mm per year, making it one of the highest precipitation areas in Sabah. The water catchments in the park provides an indispensable water source for drinking, agriculture and industrial purposes, and to sustain the daily needs of more than one third of the population of Sabah.
The ecological significance of Borneo is recognize and listed in ‘Global 200’ by WWF, ‘Endemic Bird Area’ by Birdlife International, and ‘Hotspots’ by Conservation International. Borneo is viewed as one of earth’s mega-biodiversity areas.
At present, Sabah Parks’ estimates more than 500 people live within CRP’s boundaries and over 3,000ha of land are still used for agriculture. The communities or scattered households inside and along the park’s boundaries, whether they moved in before or after the gazatting of the park, are relatively poorer and have less access to the commercial and social services available in most rural communities in the plain area. The CRNP faces many treats including shifting cultivation, uncontrolled hunting, the introduction of exotic fisher, and forest fires. The management of CRNP cannot be easily improved via the existing approaches or by simply applying the laws listed in the park Enactment. The law itself doest not allow any residence or human activities inside a park except those authorized by Sabah Parks.
CRNP has had very few visitors, because of the absence of spectacular scenery as in Kinabalu Park and the possibility of easily spotting large animals as in the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary. CRNP’s beauty, importance and its contribution to the public have not been well appreciated. Its conservation has not been promoted, and fundraising for its management to a sustainable level is limited. As a result, the development of facilities for educational and outdoor recreation remains insufficient.
Flora and Fauna
Rich with flora and fauna, the Crocker Range Park offers visitors the chance to see tropical vegetation and wildlife not to found anywhere else but in Borneo. Here visitors will see bright yellow flowers of the Dillenia Suffruticosa a woody shrub usually found on infertile defrosted soils and the Rafflesia Pricie, one of the three parasitic rafflesia species found in Sabah.
The forest is also home to at least five species of primates, such as the orang utan, gibbons and the furry tarsier with its enormous round eyes and frog-like hands and feet. Visitors will also see the extremely sociable long-tailed macaques, easily identifiable by their prominent cheek whiskers. Bears, civet cats, marble cats, and wild pigs also roam the forest floor while birds of many kinds may be spotted flitting between dense foliage. All these will allow visitors to experience a great time discovering the great forest of this national park.
The Chain Mountains of CRNP encompass ecosystems in five vegetation types: montane forest, lower montane forest, upper montane dipterocarp forest, hill diptercorp forest and lower land forest. With a high biodiversity in its forest ecosystems, CRNP is a heritage that belongs not only to the local communities, but to the world. It’s forest provide services for human communities in cleaning air and water, the prevention of natural disasters, resources for traditional agriculture and livelihood, research, education, recreation and tourism.
As there are no accessible roads here, the only option will be walking along the local people's trails, which wind their way through natural rainforests into the mountains. Deep within the jungle and protected from the modern world by it, the Kadazan people have been cultivating Sabah's fertile valleys using traditional methods for generations.
The ‘Salt Route’ is one of the latest eco-adventure tourism trekking activities that cover the Crocker Range, which stretches from the northern-most part of Borneo to the boundary of Sabah and Kalimantan, separating the Sabah interior from the West Coast. This trek will take you into the heart of Sabah's Crocker mountain range, where the ethnic Kadazan Dusun people still live a simple, agrarian existence at one with nature.
The route was taken in old days by the natives from the interior to get to the West Coast to trade at the weekly open market, known as a ‘tamu’. Salt was said to be the most important commodity then which was bartered with jungle produce. The tamu was then located in Kampung Inobong, in the district of Penampang and the route which begins from Kampung Tikolod in Tambunan to this venue was considered the longest of three known salt routes.
Today, this route is considered one of the most beautiful and adventurous jungle treks in Sabah. Trekkers will find themselves surrounded by primary forest, in which crystal clear rivers run through and a myriad of flora and fauna can be found. The route is a four-day trek which will also bring trekkers through two points of the Crocker Range Park, namely the Tikolod sub-station and the Inobong sub-station.
Journey along the ‘Salt Route’ and experience a trader’s life from the olden days and enjoy nature at its best. Try to live like the natives by experiencing home stay with them during the salt route expedition.
Getting there and away
Presently, the Crocker Range National Park is not open for public visits. Therefore, those who intend to visit must obtain written permission from the Director of Sabah Parks.
Contact sabah park for further information
Sabah Parks P.O. Box 10626, 88806 Kota Kinabalu
Tel: 088-211811, 212508 Fax: 088-221001, 211585