Experience Malaysian Wildlife With These 5 Expeditions

These Malaysian wildlife cruises and tours will humble you as you experience and admire our country’s unique fauna up close! (Left: Image by @kublai_khanz. Right: Image by @frshaiskndr.)

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When we think about World Wildlife Day (which happens to be today) and animals commonly associated with Malaysia, the Malayan tiger, Malayan tapir, and Bornean orangutan are the ones that come to mind. But did you know that Malaysia is home to many more beautiful and unique creatures?

Read on as we look at different ways to experience and learn about Malaysia’s abundant wildlife together. And, most importantly, how to protect them.

1. Marine Excursions with MareCet

Did you know that there are dolphins and whales native to Malaysia? Well, neither did we! Truth to be told, when we think of wildlife, we rarely think about our fellow marine friends. That’s where MareCet comes in as the first and only non-profit NGO in Malaysia that dedicates itself to researching and conserving our Malaysian marine mammals. MareCet offers marine excursions to Kuala Sepetang and Pulau Sibu.

A Day Out With Dolphins and Dolphin Researchers at Kuala Sepetang, Perak

Yes, we’re in disbelief that there are dolphins in Kuala Sepetang! Learn about Malaysian dolphins and MareCet’s research work at the Matang Mangrove Forest Reserve.

Psst! Did you know that the Matang Mangrove Forest Reserve is known as one of the best-managed mangrove forests in the world? Besides dolphins, participants will see other wildlife like egrets, kingfishers, lesser adjutant storks, river otters, and wild boars.

Nature Excursion at Pulau Sibu, Johor

Image by Marine Excursions & The Blue Classroom by MareCet.

This undisturbed island paradise of Johor, known as Pulau Sibu, is home to endangered dugongs. It is the only island in Peninsular Malaysia where dugongs can still be reliably found, and where MareCet has been conducting their research and conservation work since 2014. Pulau Sibu is also the site of an ancient volcano!

Participants will be snorkelling, dugong watching, jungle trekking, having a kampung lifestyle tour, and having a free and easy time on the beach. This excursion provides the local islanders with livelihood income while also tapping into their local ecological and cultural knowledge of the island.

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2. Semenggoh Wildlife Centre, Kuching

Get up close and personal with semi-wild orangutans at the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre! The centre in Kuching was set up 47 years ago to care for wild animals formerly kept as illegal pets, orphaned, or found injured in the rainforest. Several orangutans have been successfully rehabilitated and released into the forest reserve, and a number of them have had younglings since then.

These orangutans roam wild within this protected forest area and spend most of their time here. Luckily for us, some of them do return to the centre to feed twice daily! Go during the morning or afternoon feeding sessions at 9am to 10am and 3pm to 4pm to watch the them descend from the trees. A park ranger will give a short safety briefing before the feeding sessions start, and you will then follow the rangers along a jungle path to the feeding area.

If you’re lucky, the red apes might stay for approximately 30 to 60 minutes, or you might see Ritchie (a ‘graduate’ of the centre and dominant male orangutan), or maybe a mother with its baby. Though usually, they will grab some food and quickly move off into the forest. In fruiting seasons when the forest trees are abundant, they may not show up at all.

After the feeding session, visit the orangutan gallery, and pick up interesting facts about our closest relatives. Did you know that we share nearly 97% of the same DNA? For botany fans, visit the Botanical Research Centre to stroll and admire the orchid nursery, ethnobotanical gardens, fruit orchard, fernarium, bamboo garden, and a lovely pond with a floating pavilion.

Visiting hours: Daily, 8am to 10am & 2pm to 4pm

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3. Kinabatangan River Cruise, Sandakan

The Kinabatangan River is the longest in Sabah, spanning 560 kilometres, with a diverse range of natural habitats. It is known as one of the top wildlife-watching destinations in Southeast Asia. The Sabah government gazetted 27,800 hectares of forest along the river as the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, and many researchers and NGOs are actively working on conservation projects there.

The tour along the Kinabatangan river typically includes accommodation at Kinabatangan Riverside Lodge in Sukau or the Abai Jungle Lodge. There’s also the morning and afternoon boat cruises to get a chance to see a wider range of wildlife. Be ready to spot proboscis monkeys, orangutans, gibbons, Bornean pygmy elephants, crocodiles, hornbills, and myriad birds.

Watch the video below for an idea of what this wildlife tour will be like!

This river cruise can be found on Klook, with options of 3D2N or 4D3N, Borneo Adventure, and River Junkie.

4. Mangrove and Irrawaddy Dolphin Watching Cruise, Santubong

While mangrove trees play an essential role in protecting our coasts from erosion and extreme weather changes, they are also inhabited by wildlife! A close-up view of these mangroves may earn you sneak peeks of water monitor lizards, crocodiles, lizards, otters, mudskippers, mangrove crabs, prawns, and many other crustaceans and fishes.

The Santubong area is one of the best places in Sarawak to view the Irrawaddy Dolphins. These unusual marine mammals reside in the rivers, estuaries, and shallow coastal areas — swimming and diving around open waters less than 30 metres deep. To purchase this cruise, you can visit CPH Travel’s website.

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5. Tioman Spring & Summer Camps with Little Planet

This one’s for the kids! Want to help your little one get off their electronic devices and spend more time outdoors? This could be just the thing. Bonus: They will also learn about environmental and wildlife conservation! Set them up for success with Little Planet’s Spring and Summer Camp at Tioman Island. As an outdoor education company, Little Planet runs fun, eco-adventure programs for students, honing them with leadership and outdoor skills.

Courtesy of Little Planet.

This week-long day or overnight camp takes place from March to April and June to August. The kids will enjoy activities like kayaking, hiking, snorkelling, toasting marshmallows, and singing around the campfire!

A day will be spent with Juara Turtle Project, the environmental conservation organisation that patrols for nesting turtles and runs turtle hatchling releases during nesting months. The hatchery is located next to basecamp, so your kids will likely watch the hatchlings being released during one of their nights at camp!

Courtesy of Little Planet.

The programme is designed and delivered by highly experienced, internationally qualified outdoor experiential education specialists, so parents need not worry! The day camp is suitable for kids aged between 6 to 15 years old, while the overnight camp is for kids between 9 to 15 years old.

For more information about the camp, click here. For registration, click here.

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(they/them) River is a pawrent to 2 cats and an introvert. Part of the UBI (Useless Bits of Information) brain club, inspiration usually strikes when they're in the shower, on the toilet bowl or during commutes.