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Located in Southeast Asia, the country is split into two regions, separated by the South China Sea. Peninsular Malaysia borders Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, and Indonesia. East Malaysia (also known as Malaysian Borneo) borders Brunei, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam.
Malaysia is home to more than 32 million people and a wide variety of cultures. It is a multi-ethnic country with influence from Indian, Chinese, Persian, British, and Arabic cultures. The official language is Malaysian, while English is considered an active second language.
It is estimated that Malaysia contains 20% of the world’s animal species, with over 210 mammal species, including sun bears, proboscis monkeys, sea turtles, and orangutans. There are also 620 bird species (recorded on Peninsular Malaysia) and more in Malaysian Borneo. East Malaysia’s forests contain incredibly unique plants including 240 different species of trees for every hectare – making it one of the most biodiverse regions in the world.
Logging in Malaysia tropical rainforests has caused devastating impacts to the tree cover, which is degrading rapidly through the country. It is estimated that more than 80% of the rainforests of Sarawak have been cleared and 60% of Peninsular Malaysia. The loss of trees have contributed to worse floods throughout East Malaysia, and it has been predicted that the forests could be extinct in our lifetime.
Animals you can see on a Malaysia wildlife tour:
Orangutans and humans share 97% of the same DNA making it one of the closest relatives to humans. In Malay, the words “orang hutan” means “human of the forest”, a fitting description of these apes.
Orangutans are characterized by their red hair, long arms, and hook-shaped hands which help them climb trees and swing from branches. They are an endangered species who are threatened by the continuing deforestation in Malaysia, as well as illegal hunting. They are fairly noisy apes, and can be heard making loud howls that carry for miles!
Best places in Malaysia to see orangutans:
There are a few places you can see orangutans including Sabah. In Sabah, the Danum Valley Conservation Area is a beautiful area to experience the jungle and have the chance to see wild orangutans. This area has been formally protected since 1995. You could also visit the Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre where you can learn about the conservation efforts being made to protect orangutans.
Consider a visit to Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre on this 14-day Borneo adventure with G Adventures.
These unique looking birds are the state birds of Sarawak and the country’s national bird. The rhinoceros hornbill is believed to be the chief of worldly birds by some Dayak people. They are characterized by their large bill with a large casque, black feathered bodies, white legs, and whitetails with a black band. Female hornbills have white eyes with red rims, while the males have red eyes with black rims.
The rhinoceros hornbill is threatened by habitat loss and hunting, and in 2018 were added to near-threatened status on the IUCN Red List.
Best places in Malaysia to see rhinoceros hornbills:
The rhinoceros hornbill can be found in lowland and mountainous regions, as well as tropical and subtropical climates in the Malay Peninsula and Malaysian Borneo.
You may have some success in seeing hornbills on a wildlife adventure like this Jungle Trek for Conservation with Ecoteer.
Long Tailed Macaque Monkey
Also called the crab-eating macaque, these monkeys have a long history with humans. They have been seen as sacred animals in temples, pests to crops and agriculture, and test subjects for medical experiments.
Female macaques are the dominant sex in their groups, with the males leaving groups after they hit puberty. Macaques are threatened by growing development, habitat loss, and hunting. They are not considered threatened by the IUCN Red List as of 2019.
Best places in Malaysia to see long-tailed marque monkey:
These monkeys can be found in many forested areas, rehabilitation centres, and in nature throughout mainland Malaysia and Malaysian Borneo.
Also called the Indian muntjac, the barking deer is found throughout Southeast and South Asia. They are some of the smallest in the deer species, with short grey or brown fur. They acquired the name “barking deer” because of the barking sound they make when they call out.
The barking deer is a solitary animal except during mating seasons. After birthing their young, females will care for them for 6 months after which the young will leave to find its own territory.
Barking deer are considered to be pests for agriculture areas as they will damage crops and rip bark from trees, so they are often hunted for their meat and skin.
Best places in Malaysia to see barking deer:
Barking deer are found on the Malay Peninsula, particularly in Taman Negara.
You may have a chance to see a barking deer on this jungle trek for conservation with Ecoteer.
The blue-winged pitta is a small bird found in Southeast Asia and Australia. They are a colorful bird with a black head, white collar, green upper wings, blue wings, and a red vent. They can be found throughout India, Malaysia, southern China, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Australia.
The blue-winged pitta feeds primarily on insects and worms, and sometimes hard-shelled snails. They are known to build large nests on the ground using roots, moss, twigs, grass, and leaves. The nests are fairly untidy, between tree roots, and close to water.
In Malaysia, pittas breed between early May and late July. They will lay 4-6 eggs that are usually white or cream with purple marks. Both male and female pittas take turns incubating the eggs.
They have a very distinct whistle that lasts for a few seconds at a time. They are also at risk due to loss of habitat but have not been added to the IUCN Red List.
Best places in Malaysia to see pitta:
Blue-winged pittas are primarily found on peninsular Malaysia in lowland tropical forests near marshes and other waterways.
Consider joining Ecoteer on a jungle trek for conservation where you may have the chance to see blue-winged pittas. They also offer a diving to save the ocean trip where you can help other species native to Malaysia.
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