Unique Wildife of Malaysia
Did you know that Malaysia’s rainforests are home to approximately 361 mammal species, 694 bird species, 250 reptiles’ species and 150 frog species? In fact, Malaysia is estimated to make up 20% of the world’s animal species in one of the most biodiverse places on earth!
As today marks the end of our Merdeka/Malaysia Day series, the Good News team is honoured to highlight some of our nation’s precious wildlife and pride!
Malayan Tiger (Panthera tigris jacksoni/malayensis)
The Malayan tiger is featured on the country’s coat of arms. This mighty creature holds a significant place in Malaysian culture. For instance, in the national language, its Malay name (harimau belang) signifies bravery and strength. In fact, these bad boys are quite the celebrity. From the Royal Malaysian Police to Maybank, the Malayan tiger has been the face of various local establishments including the national football team!
Inhabitants of thick jungles in Peninsular Malaysia and the southern tip of Thailand, deforestation and rampant hunting have led to their extinction and classification on the IUCN Red List in 2015 as a critically endangered species. According to WWF-Malaysia, there are now less than 200 Malayan tigers in Malaysia and we need to act fast to save our majestic animals!
Fun fact: The Malayan tiger species known as Panthera tigris jacksoni , was named in honour of Peter Jackson, the famous tiger conservationist.
Rhinoceros Hornbill (Buceros rhinoceros)
The magnificent hornbills are one of the most famous birds in Sarawak (No wonder, Sarawak is also known as the Land of the Hornbills! 😊)
Hornbills are known for its unique beak or significant ‘double-storey bill’ – a long, deep beak with a projection known as casque on top. These large bills are used for fighting, catching prey and building nests.
The indigenous people in Sarawak, especially the Iban community, deem this creature to be the head of the pack among the bird species in Malaysia. Although contrary to popular belief, the rhinoceros hornbill is not a native war god. Found abundantly in the luscious rainforests of Sarawak, these unique birds have also been spotted in the jungles of Peninsular Malaysia and is the country’s National Bird!
Fun fact: The Malaysian 5 Ringgit note features an illustration of hornbills in its natural habitat!
Bornean Orang Utan (Pongo pygmaeus)
Regarded as one of the great ape species native to Asia, the Bornean Orang Utans are highly intelligent animals. 97% of their DNA reflects human DNA. In fact, they were once considered as another tribe of people by the indigenous community of Borneo. Hence, the name “orang utan” which means people of the jungle in the Malay languange.
Bornean Orang Utans have a distinctive physical body shape with very long arms that may reach up to 1.5 metres in length with a reddish coat of hair and grasping hands and feet. Unlike most mammals, its coat does not cover its face although these animals are known to have some hair on their faces including a beard and mustache. Other distinctive features include its large fatty cheek pads known as flanges and a pendulous throat sac.
Malayan Tapir (Tapirus indicus)
The largest among four other tapir species, the Malayan tapir can primarily be found in the tropical forests of Peninsular Malaysia. Popularly known as “cipan” or “tenuk” among locals, these animals have a fascinating light-coloured patch on its body. This acts as a camouflage making it difficult for other animals to recognise it as a tapir. In fact, some animals may even mistake it for a large rock when it is lying down to sleep!
Recently, the tapir has inspired a modern animation figure – Drowzee from Pokemon. Similar to the tapir, Drowzee’s body has two tones of colour. The upper part is of a lighter colour and the rear end is a darker tone.
Unlike Drowzee, the Malayan tapir does not put people to sleep or feed off your dreams! (LOL)
Gaur (Bos gaurus)
Known as “seladang” in the Malay language, the gaur is the largest species among wild cattles in Southeast Asia. Gaurs can reach a shoulder height of up to 220 cm (87 in) and weigh around 3,300 pounds. (WOW!)
It is a useful animal for agricultural purposes. However, due to its massive strength, it can be difficult for farmers or gaur herds to control their movements. Herbivores by nature, these animals feed on plants as well as fruits, grass and even flowers!
* Featured image sourced from unsplash.com