Cheesemans' Ecology Safaris

Ecotourism & Conservation
in Borneo

Bird Watching © Charlie Ryan

By traveling with Cheesemans’ to Borneo, you are investing in the ecotourism industry as well as the people, economy, and environment. Cultivated relationships with local suppliers and lodges ensure all money spent on your trip stays in Borneo and supports its communities and ecosystems. Our operator has long-standing, in-house initiatives in developing ecotourism, homestays, cultural immersion experiences (reside, farm, fish, and cook local dishes with a host family in a lesser-known village), and other projects as well as in promoting and modeling conservation through practices such as using reusable water bottles in lieu of creating a trail of single-use plastic.

Borneo’s ecotourism industry provides employment for local people and funds a variety of conservation initiatives. Our operator works closely with the communities in Sabah. One way is through KOPEL, a community-run co-operative consisting of farmers, fishermen, and rural people who work together to nurture and protect the rainforest ecosystems while developing sustainable income generation through ecotourism. Relying on its own small-scale, small-footprint ventures, KOPEL is a leader in social enterprise in Malaysia. Additionally, the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, a rescue and rehabilitation facility for the world’s smallest bear, also directly benefits from your trip by a built-in donation in return for a private tour with the founder.

Landscape © Grace Chen

How Can You Make A Difference?

How You Can Actively Contribute


  • Keep an eBird list for each outing – you don’t need to track EVERY bird you see. See our Reading and Resource List for more details.
  • Take GPS-referenced wildlife and nature photos, and upload to iNaturalist. See our Reading and Resource List for more details.


  • Give a talk about your experience to a local wildlife or nature group or host a virtual webinar to reach a much wider audience!
  • Post your experiences on social media so others can learn more.
  • Submit a written, video, or audio testimonial for Cheesemans’ to share with future travelers.
Acting Locally


  • Support local vendors if you buy memorabilia to take home.
  • Bring a reusable water bottle to refill rather than accepting plastic bottles. Filtered water is provided in the vehicles and lodges.
  • Ask for the lodging to not replace your towels or bedding during multiple night stays.
  • Turn off lights and fans when leaving your room.
  • Bring biodegradable soap to save waterways. This can also help minimize plastic bottle waste by reducing the number of bottles hotels provide (although many hotels are switching to dispensers in the bathrooms.).

Organizations You Can Support

KOPEL – This village-run co-operative develops ecotourism experiences to economically sustain their community while conserving and protecting the habitats, rainforests, and wildlife of the Lower Kinabatangan.

Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre – This organization is a rescue and rehabilitation center for Malayan sun bears, which are threatened by deforestation, illegal hunting for parts, and cub-poaching for the pet trade. Their goal is to provide care and rehabilitation for captured sun bears and to increase awareness internationally to foster awareness and protection.

HUTAN – This community-based conservation collective, through a network of local and international partnerships, conducts research and implements conservation programs for threatened habitats and wildlife species in Kinabatangan. They strive to develop a peaceful co-existence of people and animals such as orangutans, elephants, hornbills, and swiftlets.