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© Naturepl.com / Juan Carlos Munoz / WWF
Malaysia is recognised as one of 12 mega-diversity countries with many of its species occurring in unusually high densities. For example, there is estimated to be around 1,500 species of terrestrial vertebrates alone.
THE MALAYAN TIGERThe Malayan tiger is a symbol of courage and strength, represented in the emblems of the Royal Malaysian Police, our national football team and, more importantly, the Jata Negara, our national crest. The Malayan tiger is a territorial creature that needs large areas of forest to roam. It hunts alone, its main diet being smaller prey, with a preference for sambar deer. Tigers give birth to two to four cubs every two years. Cubs stay with their mother until they are two years old before setting off on their own.
© Shariff Mohamad / WWF-Malaysia
© Stephen Hogg / WWF-Malaysia
BORNEAN ELEPHANTSAsian elephants differ in several ways from their African relatives. They have smaller ears, unlike the large fan-shaped ears of the African species. The Asian elephant is also much smaller. Asian elephants occurring in northern Borneo are known as Bornean elephants. The Bornean elephant is considered an evolutionarily significant unit. Due to habitat loss, fragmentation, poaching and human-elephant conflict, the Bornean elephant population in Malaysian Borneo is estimated at just 1,500 elephants. The Asian elephants are listed as ‘endangered’ under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and number between 48,300 to 51,680 wild individuals.
SEA TURTLESThese gentle reptiles of the sea swim great distances and come on land only to nest on Malaysian beaches. They are known for their longevity among local cultures. Sadly, the number of marine turtles in most places has plummeted and some populations are on the brink of extinction. In the 1950s, some 10,000 leatherback turtle nests were recorded at Rantau Abang, Terengganu. There have been no recorded nestings of leatherbacks since 2011. We cannot afford to let our hawksbill, olive ridley and green turtles suffer the same fate.
© Jürgen Freund / WWF
© Martin Harvey / WWF
ORANGUTANSAsia’s only great ape, the orangutan or ‘man of the forest’ is found only on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. The Bornean orangutans have been classified as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List, with approximately 13,000 orangutans left in the wild in Sabah and Sarawak. Consistent conservation efforts by NGOs and related government agencies have ensured that the orangutan population in Malaysia remains stable. However, conservation and awareness efforts will need to continue to safeguard the orangutan populations in the long term.