In the 1960s and 1970s, botanical expeditions were beginning to shed more light on the Mulu area’s flora and fauna: 100 new plant species were discovered between 1960 and 1973 alone. Mulu Park encompasses an area of diverse altitudes and soil types – it includes all the forest types found in Borneo except mangrove. About 20000 animal species have been recorded in Mulu Park, as well as 3500 plant species and 8000 varieties of fungi (more than 100 of these are endemic to the Mulu area). Mulu’s ecological statistics are astounding: it is home to 1500 species of flowering plant, 170 species of orchid and 109 varieties of palm. More than 280 butterfly species have been recorded. Within the park boundaries, 262 species of bird (including all eight varieties of hornbill), 67 mammalian species, 50 species of reptile and 75 amphibian species have been recorded.
Mulu’s caves contain an unusual array of flora and fauna too. There are three species of swiftlet, 12 species of bat and nine species of fish, including the cave flying fish and blind catfish. Cave scorpions – which are poisonous but not deadly – are not uncommon. Other subterranean species include albino crabs, huntsman spiders, cave crickets, centipedes and snakes (which dine on swiftlets and bats). These creatures have been described as “living fossils... [which are] isolated survivors of ancient groups long since disappeared from Southeast Asia.”