Lahad Datu lies in the Tawau Division on the East coast of
Sabah.The interior mountain ranges stand on its west and the Celebes Sea
borders it from the east.The economic activities are very similar to those
of its neighbouring town, Tawau.Timber, palm oil, rubber and cocoa are the main livelihood of Lahad Datu.
It is also the gateway to the renowned virgin rainforest of the
Conservation Area, the Tabin Wildlife Reserve in the east and the Madai Caves further south.
A settlement is believed to have existed here in the 15th
century, as excavations have unearthed Ming dynasty Chinese ceramics.
Just east of Lahad Datu, is the village of Tunku, a notorious base for Lanun
pirates and slave traders in the 19th century.
Lahad Datu is also home to Sabah's population of Cocos Island Malays, who
were settled in this area in the 1950s when the Cocos Islands became part of
The port serves a productive
agricultural community specialised in cocoa and palm oil. It is also an
important timber exporting port with loading activities handled at
midstream. There are also facilities at the Port to service oil tankers.
Lahad Datu is linked to other towns in Sabah by road and by
regular air service. To drive to Lahad Datu from
Sandakan takes about 2 ˝
hours. From Kota Kinabalu to Lahad Datu, it is a 6-hour drive or a 40-minute flight.
The town of Lahad Datu is situated just 1 km from Lahad Datu Airport.
Paces of interest:
Tabin Wildlife Reserve is an enormous dipterocarp rainforest
landscape in the eastern part of Sabah, with a most diverse range of flora
and fauna. Tabin was declared a wildlife reserve because of the large
numbers of animal species inhabiting its forest, including several which are
highly endangered. With a protected forest area of 120,500 hectares, the
Tabin Wildlife Reserve plays an important role as a dedicated ground for the
breeding of endangered wildlife and protected mammals in Sabah. Tabin has
several intriguing mud volcanoes that provide mineral salts for the wild
animals. The three largest land mammals of Sabah: Borneo Pygmy Elephant,
Sumatran Rhino and Tembadau are found within Tabin.
Madai Caves is an important place for birds' nests.
The village at the entrance of the largest cave comes alive twice a year
when the Ida’an community comes to harvest the birds' nests from various
parts of the caves. It is a special communal event, almost like a festival.
The harvesting is a dramatic event with the men risking their lives to prise
precious nests from the cave roof. The Ida’ans have held their rights to the
Madai Caves for over 20 generations.
Another 16 km from the Madai Caves is Baturong, a
huge limestone massif of archaeological importance. Baturong was once part of
the Tingkayu Lake, which has long since drained away. These limestone
outcrops, which are about 250 metres high, are one of Sabah’s most important
archaeological sites. Recent discoveries have led archaeologists to believe
that cavemen lived in this region as early as 25,000 years ago around the
shores of Tingkayu Lake.