Our work in 2022 and outlook

In spring 2023, after 2 years of travel restrictions due to the pandemic, it was finally possible to enter Sabah again,  which brought a new drive into our projects.

Although donations have dipped, our passion for restoring the natural world has not!

Income and allocations of resources 2022:

Unfortunately in 2022 we only received close to 145,000 EUR, which was nearly half compared to 2021’s funds. This makes it quite challenging to keep our projekts running…

Beside a major donation from the liquidation of an association, our most generous donor in 2022 was the Zoo Leipzig.

In 2022 we spent approximately 220,000 EUR. About 93% of the allocated funds were directly used for restoration activities. The rest was used for overhead and travel costs.

Looking back at developments in 2022 and plans for 2023:

Upgrade of the RFF team

In October 2022 we managed to increase our local staff in Sabah from 2 to 5 employees and since November Robert Risch is employed as a project leader and managing director under the RFF, which consolidates our staff and our work. We seek to further increase our local staff as soon as possible.

New website:

Since November 2023 the RFF has a new internet presence: www.rhinoandforestfund.org

RFF on TV:

In August and November we had 2 teams from the German channel ZDF and the French/German channel Arte in Sabah filming our project sites. The first documentary was broadcasted in November 22 and January 23 and allowed us to reach more interested people than ever before. You can find the first of the 2 documentaries here: https://www.zdf.de/gesellschaft/plan-b/plan-b-gruen-und-exotisch-100.html

Map showing protected forste (dark green), mangrove swamps (light green) and oil palm dominated landscape (grey)


At the approximately 10,000ha (hectare) large Silabukan Forest Reserve, where we started working in 2021, we could extend our planting sites to 63 ha illegal oil palm plantation areas, that we planted with nearly 12,000 trees of 60 species.

With the project, a decades long history of illegal encroachment and deforestation in the east of this protected area could be stopped.

We also discovered a commercial poaching camp near our project site where whole hunting parties got entertained, which lead to the demolition of the structure by the Sabah Forestry Department. In 2023 we also plan to start planting a new wildlife corridor between Silabukan and Tabin and also extend the restoration of encroached areas to the west of Silabukan.

Bukit Piton:

At the approx. 11,000ha large Bukit Piton Forest Reserve we started in 2022 to conduct silvicultural treatment on now more than 1,000 ha liberating trees that got overgrown due to the premature termination of restoration projects by other organisations. In 2023 we target to extent the treatment area to more than 1,400ha and to further develop our 10ha planting site (wildlife oasis) adding artificial ponds.

Tabin-Kulamba Wildlife Corridor:

Already, in late 2020 we started the restoration of 50ha oil palm plantation on the 65 ha of private land that we had previously acquired planting more than 8,000 trees that will be maintained over the next years. The restoration of the purchased 65 ha in the north of the Tabin Wildlife Reserve will eventually connect 200.000 ha of key areas for the survival of Borneo’s threatened flora and fauna.

On an open area at the Tabin river, where we already started in 2012 with the restoration of the river bank planting 4,000 trees, we created a 1 ha large lake that was finished in October 2022. The new lake will make the site even more attractive to wildlife.

In February 2023 we plan to start a scientific camera trap study to document wildlife occurrence at our restoration site compared to adjacent plantations and forest.

Artificial water bodies increase the carrying capacity for wildlife significantly.  Still during the excavation works the lake got colonized by fish, amphibians started spawning at the lake bank and rare bird and reptile species got attracted. Also the elephants will deeply appreciate it when they will be back next time.

Finished lake with islands in November 2022 in Tabin. Background: bank of the Tabin river restored in 2012. Under the oil palms around the lake tens of thousands of young trees are growing. The open area next to the lake will partly be maintained as a grazing area for wildlife and partly be reforested. Just 4 month ago in June 22 the whole 3,5 ha area was covered with Mukuna bracteata, a very fast growing invasive plant quickly overgrowing any trees and killing them whole.

Land acquisitions:

In 2022 we continued to identify more crucial private land parcels near Tabin and at the Kinabatangan river and prepared further land acquisitions that are yet to be funded.

Creation of a new ranger teams:

In 2022 we kept working on the plan to establish a new ranger team to protect our project areas, but still lack funding to implement the project. We hope in 2023 this will change and we will be able to  make it happen.

Thank you very much for all recent and future support! All depends on your contributions!