Madai Cave (Gua Madai), known as “Swiftlet Mountain” by locals, is a limestone cave that was formed tens of thousands of years ago. It is the habitat of a large number of swiftlets and is one of the important producers of high-quality bird nests in Sabah.

A swiftlet’s nest from the cave.

Demands for these nests usually come from the Chinese community, especially during Chinese New Year. Twice every year, licensed collectors would climb up to the roof of the caves with ropes or a ladder to harvest the nests.

Idahan villagers have been the traditional owner of the cave for more than 20 generations. Even though they are the major producers, they aren’t consumers of the birds’ nest. The nests will be sold to a middle man which will then be sold to countries like Hong Kong and Singapore.

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The cave is located next to the road of Kunak, a small town between Tawau and Lahad Datu. It can be easily found as it is only about 1.5km from the main road.