Exotic Malaysian Wildlife

By Tango

Malaysia offers a haven for nature enthusiasts due to its warm and wet climate that supports diverse ecosystems of tropical rainforests and mangroves, providing a suitable habitat for numerous animal and bird species. In fact, approximately a fifth of the total known species worldwide are believed to exist in Malaysia. In this article, we will explore some of the exceptional wildlife that can be spotted during the early days of the Borneo & the Malaysian Peninsula tour which includes Kiulu white water rafting.

The Malayan Tiger

The Malayan Tiger takes the top spot on the list and is considered Malaysia’s national symbol. It is an awe-inspiring and majestic creature that resides in the jungles of Peninsular Malaysia. Unfortunately, this species is close to extinction due to the pressures of hunting for its medicinal value and deforestation.

The Orangutan

Orangutans inhabit the Borneo rainforests, and sightings of these intelligent primates are common in the East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak. Despite the mistaken perception of their cuteness, orangutans are closely related to humans and possess impressive mental abilities. Visitors who miss seeing them in the wild can visit various sanctuaries in Malaysia that aim to reintroduce the animals into their natural habitats. Our Borneo & the Malaysian Peninsula travel program includes a week’s visit to the Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary, where participants can observe these fascinating creatures up close.

Pygmy elephants

The Asian elephants that inhabit Borneo and the Malaysian state of Sabah are genetically different from their mainland counterparts and are recognized for their smaller size, larger ears, and docile demeanor, earning them the nickname “Pygmy elephants.” Unfortunately, their population is at risk of extinction due to deforestation and poaching. Currently, there are fewer than 1,500 pygmy elephants living in wildlife reserves in the region.

Proboscis monkey

Proboscis monkeys, which are identifiable by their distinctive, protruding noses and chubby, circular tummies, are prevalent in the rainforests of Indonesia but also inhabit national parks in Sabah and Sarawak. This species of monkey is known for its unique physical characteristics and can be found in various locations.

The siamang

The siamang, a type of gibbon, is found in the Malaysian Peninsula. This tailless primate is covered in long black fur, but its most prominent characteristic is the grayish-pink throat pouch that they use to create deep booming sounds for communication with its partners.


The saltwater crocodile is deemed one of the world’s most savage animal species due to its enormous size and strength. Adult males can weigh up to 2,600 pounds and reach a length of approximately 19.7 feet. These creatures can be found residing in rivers and mangrove swamps and are known to be opportunistic predators, often ambushing any potential prey that crosses their path.

Rhinoceros hornbill

The striking Rhinoceros hornbill is easily recognized by its distinct red and golden-yellow horn, also known as a casque, located on top of its beak. This unique feature is responsible for amplifying the bird’s call. The bird displays jet-black feathers on its body and wings, while the male species boasts an orange or red ring circling the eye region.

In addition to the Rhinoceros hornbill, Malaysia boasts an impressive collection of 740 other magnificent bird species, distinguished by their brilliant tropical colors and distinctive calls, making them easily recognizable.