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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 tigers are not very different from the Indochinese tigers that can be found in Thailand and other parts of mainland South East Asia. In terms of landmass connectivity, the Indochinese tiger range in Thailand is separated from the Malayan tiger range. So, Malayan tigers can be found in forest fragments of Thailand that borders Malaysia but not the other way round. Therefore, our tigers are thought to have evolved to be of a different subspecies partly because of this forested landmass separation.
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Asian elephants differ in several ways from their African relatives. They have smaller ears, which are straight at the bottom, unlike the large fan-shape ears of the African species. The Asian elephant is also much smaller. Due to habitat loss, fragmentation, poaching and culling for their ivory, and other body parts, it is now endangered and numbers between 38,000 to 51,000 wild individuals compared to more than 600,000 African elephants.
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These 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.
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Asia’s only great ape, the orangutan or ‘man of the forest’ is found only on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. Globally classified as endangered due to their habitat being destroyed and fragmented, orangutans in Malaysia (Sabah and Sarawak) are probably best classed as ‘vulnerable’. Much of their prime habitat has been converted to plantations and the rate of habitat loss has hit a very low level in recent years. There is almost no hunting of this species in Malaysia. In Sarawak, most of the population are found in protected areas which are gazetted as wildlife sanctuaries and national parks.
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WWF-Malaysia works together with TRAFFIC-SEA and the Department of Wildlife and National Parks to try and combat a secret army of poachers working in Malaysia.

© Christopher Wong / WWF-Malaysia