© APE Malaysia

Our fauna

By sponsoring the planting and maintenance of trees through the Bridges Plants Trees initiative, you are restoring the habitats of many endangered species.

 

The first sighting of a female orangutan nesting with her baby was recorded in 2016, nine years since reforestation efforts began in the Lower Kinabatangan area. Since then there have been sightings and evidence of wildlife such as orangutans, pygmy elephants, deer, hornbills and various other birds within the reforested areas.

 

The Lower Kinabatangan River sustains one of the world’s richest ecosystems [1]. In addition to being home to all eight species of hornbills found in Borneo, it is one of only two places in the world where 10 primate species can be found!

Orang Utan Mum and Baby © APE Malaysia Mark Louis Benedict

Orang Utan Mum and Baby © APE Malaysia Mark Louis Benedict

Orangutan

Found only in Sumatra and Borneo, orangutans are highly intelligent long-haired primates which share 96.4% of their genes with us [2].

 

They spend 90% of their time in tropical forest trees, using large leaves as umbrellas [3]. These ‘men of the forest’ feast on wild fruits such as lychees, mangosteens and figs, and slurp water from holes in trees [2].

 

Deforestation and hunting put the orangutans at risk of becoming extinct, causing the Bornean orangutan to be listed as an endangered species. The females give birth only once every eight years [3].

Pygmy Elephants © APE Malaysia Mark Louis Benedict.jpg

Pygmy Elephants © APE Malaysia Mark Louis Benedict

Pygmy Elephant 

The pygmy elephants, also called Bornean elephants, are the smallest subspecies of elephants, growing to a height of just under 2.5 meters [4].

 

Gentler and less aggressive than mainland Asian elephants, Bornean elephants are natural swimmers and have been seen swimming across rivers [5]. Elephants in the Lower Kinabatangan area are hostile toward man-made objects which can be found in the forests, such as traps meant to catch smaller mammals.

 

Sadly, pygmy elephants are endangered due to habitat loss which also threatens their food source. Displaced animals are often killed for feeding or trampling on crops. They are also at risk of becoming injured by illegal snares [4].

Rhinoceros Hornbill © APE Malaysia Mark Louis Benedict.jpg

Rhinoceros Hornbill © APE Malaysia Mark Louis Benedict

Rhinoceros Hornbill

The rhinoceros hornbills are pitch-black in colour with a white tail marked by a single dark bar [6]. The bird has a huge bright orange bill and a wingspan of 1.5 metres and can live up to 35 years [7]. 

 

These birds typically fly in pairs or small groups, giving a series of low, resonant calls and feed on figs, smaller birds, rodents, etc.

 

According to the Dayak, an umbrella term for the natives of Borneo, the rhinocerous hornbills represent the spirit of God. While these birds are considered sacred, and never to be hunted or eaten, its tail features are harvested to decorate ceremonial headdresses and weapons such as blowpipes and machetes. It is considered good luck to the local community when one flies over your home [8].

 

Unfortunately, Malaysia’s national bird is threatened by the destruction of rainforests which serve as their breeding site. The bird is also hunted for their meat, skull and feathers [7].