Southeast Asia is not only the host of some of the world’s most unique cultures and communities. The region’s distinctive hues also come from its natural environment, which happens to serve as the home of some truly intriguing forms of flora and fauna.
These natural treasures are greatly valued both locally and internationally, which is why they are recognized and protected to a large extent. The fact that there are a large number of national parks—such as the Gunung Mulu National Park and Komodo National Park—and protected areas in Southeast Asia should testify to this adequately.
What follows is a list that focuses on the fauna of Southeast Asia, by shedding some light on seven animals that are prominent and distinct parts of the region’s natural ecosystem. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled, because the next time you happen to be in Southeast Asia, you might just see one or more of them!
1. Malayan Tapir
Malayan Tapirs or Asian Tapirs are best known for their distinct white and black body, alongside their long snouts. The Malayan Tapir is said to be the largest of all species of tapirs, and is, unfortunately, an endangered species, as listed on the IUCN Red List.
COMMONLY FOUND IN: The jungles of Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand
2. Orang Utan
The Orangutan is a truly magnificent creature that is easily identified by its bright brownish-red hair and large size. These great apes are highly respected by wildlife experts for their intelligence, their usually gentle demeanor, and their strong mother-and-child bond.
COMMONLY FOUND IN: The jungles of Borneo and Sumatra
3. Rhinoceros Hornbill
The most distinct and unique part of the Rhinoceros Hornbill is its beak and casque, both of which are large and brightly-colored, thus contrasting against its slender body that is usually covered in black feathers. It is also known for the loud calls and sounds it produces.
COMMONLY FOUND IN: Malaysia and Southern Thailand, alongside the jungles of Borneo, Java, and Sumatra
4. Komodo Dragon
These large reptiles may appear to be tame and slow, but they should not be underestimated by any means. They are notorious for their stealthy hunting abilities, powerful tails, dangerous bites, and strong tails, making them a force to be reckoned with.
COMMONLY FOUND IN: The Indonesian islands of Komodo, Rinca, Padar, Flores and Gili Motang
5. Asian Elephant
Elephants have long played an important role in various cultures across the world, and are best known for being the largest mammals on land. The Asian Elephant is no exception to this, and it is identified by the feature of the tip of its trunk that resembles a single finger.
COMMONLY FOUND IN: The jungles of Southeast Asia, except Brunei and Singapore
6. King Cobra
Spine-tingling hiss and potent venom aside, the King Cobra is arguably one of the most majestic serpents on the planet, with beautiful hoods and shiny scales that complement their size in reminding the world that they are called ‘kings’ for a reason.
COMMONLY FOUND IN: The jungles of the entire Southeast Asian region
7. Indochinese Tiger
The Indochinese Tiger amazes most people who lay eyes on it with its beautiful skin, along with its luring eyes and strong but dignified behavior. It is a heavily protected species, however, due to its status as an endangered animal.
COMMONLY FOUND IN: Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam