Ecological Research

, Volume 22, Issue 5, pp 742–748 | Cite as

Importance of natural licks for the mammals in Bornean inland tropical rain forests

  • Hisashi Matsubayashi
  • Peter Lagan
  • Noreen Majalap
  • Joseph Tangah
  • Jum Rafiah Abd. Sukor
  • Kanehiro Kitayama
Original Article


An intensive camera-trapping study and a nutrient analysis were carried out to understand how natural licks are important for mammals in inland tropical rain forests where soil cations are usually depleted. Using camera traps, we investigated the fauna, food habits, and the frequency of visitation by species at five natural licks in the Deramakot forest reserve, Sabah, Malaysia. All food-habit types of mammals (carnivore, herbivore-frugivore, insectivore, and omnivore), which included 29 (78.4%) of 37 species known in Deramakot, were recorded at the natural licks. The sambar deer, followed by the bearded pig, the lesser mouse-deer, the Malay badger, and the orangutan were the most commonly recorded species and represented 77.5% in terms of the frequency of appearance in all photographs taken throughout the year. These results indicated that, although the proportion of species recorded at the natural licks relative to the whole mammalian fauna of the forest was high, the frequency of visitation greatly varied among the species, and only a few species dominated. The frequency of visitation seemed to reflect both the density of species and the demand for the minerals, because some endangered, low-density species were more frequently recorded by cameras than expected—for example, the orangutan which was one of the top five species among natural-lick users. The natural licks with greater concentrations of minerals in seepage soil water were significantly preferred by the sambar deer and the bearded pig than those with lower concentrations of minerals. This result suggests that the chemical properties of soil water in natural licks determine the frequency of visitation of these herbivorous species that have strong demand for minerals.


Borneo Camera trap Natural licks Orangutan Tropical rain forests 



We are grateful to Mr. S. Mannan, Director of Sabah Forestry Department (SFD), Dr. Y. F. Lee, Deputy Director of Forest Research Centre (FRC), SFD, Mr. M. Andau, Director of Sabah Wildlife Department, Malaysia, and Prof. T. Nakashizuka, Research Institute for Humanity and Nature (RIHN) for encouraging our work. S. H. Suparlan, A. Ahmad and E. Lapina, L. Y. Len, H. B. Ahmad, R. Salleh, and Y. Matsubayashi helped our fieldwork and analysis. Our gratitude goes to anonymous referees for useful suggestions on this manuscript. This study was supported by RIHN Project P2-2, and by the MEXT Grant-in-Aid for the 21st Century COE Program of Kyoto University (A14).


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Copyright information

© The Ecological Society of Japan 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hisashi Matsubayashi
    • 1
    • 4
  • Peter Lagan
    • 2
  • Noreen Majalap
    • 2
  • Joseph Tangah
    • 2
  • Jum Rafiah Abd. Sukor
    • 3
  • Kanehiro Kitayama
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Ecological ResearchKyoto UniversityShigaJapan
  2. 2.Sabah Forestry DepartmentSandakanMalaysia
  3. 3.Sabah Wildlife DepartmentKota KinabaluMalaysia
  4. 4.Tokyo University of AgricultureKanagawaJapan

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