Discover Sarawak’s Must-See Animals: A Guide for Wildlife Enthusiasts

For first time visitors discovering Sarawak, we are sure you have planned alot of things to do in your itinerary.

If you are a nature lover, your visit to the Land of Hornbills would not be complete without getting close to some animals.

Here are five must-see animals in Sarawak when you are in town:

1.Bornean orangutan

Semenggoh 7

Did you know that orangutans share approximately 97 per cent of their DNA with humans? They are practically our cousins.

There are two species of orangutan. The Bornean orangutan and Sumatran orangutan are two different species that diverged about 400,000 years ago.

The species that is endemic to the island of Borneo is Pongo pygmaeus or the Bornean orangutan.

One of the many differences between the Bornean orangutan and its Sumatran brother is that the former travels on the ground more than its Sumatran counterpart.

Many believe this is due to no large terrestrial predators that could attack an orangutan in Borneo.

However in Sumatra, this great ape sometimes come in contact with the Sumatran tiger.

Thanks to this trait, you can find these must see animals in Sarawak walking around the Semenggoh Nature Reserve if you are lucky.

Located 20km from Kuching city, Semenggoh Nature Reserve is home to semi-wild orangutans.

They spend most of their time in the forest (especially during the fruiting season) but some get back to the centre during feeding time.

So if you are making a visit, make sure you are there during their feeding times at 9am to 10am or 3pm to 4pm.

2.Proboscis monkey

Bako National Park 3

Another mammal that is endemic to Borneo is the proboscis monkey or long-nosed monkey (Nasalis larvatus).

It is known for its distinguished large nose. Proboscis monkeys live commonly in the mangrove forests and on the coastal areas.

Being accustomed to its natural habitats, these primates are known to swim across rivers and are even able to dive underwater.

While the largest remaining populations can be found in Kalimantan, there are a few found in Sarawak.

In Sarawak, one of the best places to see proboscis monkeys in the wild is Bako National Park.

There, you might catch these must -ee animals in Sarawak jumping from one tree to another or munching on fruits or leaves.

3.Saltwater crocodiles

crocodile gf98fdb022 1280

There are two species of crocodiles found in Sarawak: the saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) and the Malayan gharial (Tomistoma shlegii).

However, the one you really catch a glimpse of while in Sarawak is none other than what the Australians call the ‘saltie’.

It is the largest living reptile in the world.

If you are in Kuching, make a trip to Jong’s Crocodile Farm and Zoo in Siburan. It is one of seven crocodile farms in Malaysia that is registered under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Another place to see a saltwater crocodile is at Matang Wildlife Centre.

It is not a zoo but a centre dedicated to the rehabilitation of endangered animals before being released back into the wild.

The crocodiles sent to the centre are usually the ones caught intruding human settlements.


Julie Larsen Maher 1966 Wreathed Hornbill PPZ 02 02 17
Press Photos: (All Credit: Julie Larsen Maher © WCS)

Unless you are an avid bird watcher, you are considered one of the lucky ones if you are able to see hornbills fly freely in the sky.

Despite the name ‘Land of the Hornbills’, don’t expect these birds to be easily spotted unless you head over the the Piasau Nature Reserve in Miri.

There are eight species of hornbill found in Sarawak including White Crested Hornbill, Wrinkled Hornbill, Wreathed Hornbill, Black Hornbill, Bushy Crested Hornbill, Pied Hornbill, Helmeted Hornbill and Rhinoceros Hornbill.

The Rhinoceros Hornbill is not only the state bird of Sarawak but Malaysia’s national bird.

To see this iconic bird, Santubong National Park reportedly is the closest site to Kuching which offers a chance to see the Rhinoceros Hornbill.

5.Bornean bearded pig

Bornean Bearded Pigs

You might think, “Why would I want to see a pig when I come to Sarawak?” This is not any pig, this is the Borneo bearded pig.

Putting aside its name, the Bornean bearded pig (Sus barbatus) can also be found in Sumatra, the Malay Peninsula as well as some small islands in Sulu archipelago.

This pig can be recognised by its prominent beard which is more pronounced in males.

Make a trip to Bako National Park and you can find them around the park HQ or along the beach.

If you are staying over at the park, don’t be surprised if you hear snorting sounds in the middle of the nights. Sometimes, these pigs would hover around the accommodation area scavenging for food.

Patricia Hului is a Kayan who wants to live in a world where you can eat whatever you want and not gain weight.

She grew up in Bintulu, Sarawak and graduated from the University Malaysia Sabah with a degree in Marine Science.

She is currently obsessed with silent vlogs during this Covid-19 pandemic.

Due to her obsession, she started her Youtube channel of slient vlogs.

Follow her on Instagram at @patriciahului, Facebook at Patricia Hului at or Twitter at @patriciahului.

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