When you live in big cities and towns, you might forget that Malaysia is actually teeming with fascinating wildlife. However, many of them are under threat due to shrinking habitats and illegal poaching.
While there are plenty of conservation centers and wildlife sanctuaries dedicated to protecting all kinds of endangered species, they need your support! Because without visitors and donations, they’re unable to get the funds they need to continue their important work. So here are seven things you can do to reconnect with Mother Nature and give her a helping hand:
1. Help turtle hatchlings find their way to the sea at Cherating Turtle Sanctuary
It’s not only people who are attracted to the East Coast’s lovely white sand beaches – they’re also popular among sea turtles, which regularly land on the beaches to lay their eggs. If you’re curious about turtles, head to Cherating Turtle Sanctuary, situated on Chendor Beach in Pahang. There’s an Information Center, complete with an educational video and exhibits where you can learn more about the sanctuary’s conservation efforts and research.
The main draw, however, are the hatchling pools, which are full of cute little turtle hatchlings swimming around. Between the months of April to August/September, you can catch turtles landing on the beach and digging their nests to lay eggs, which typically happens at night or early morning. For a small donation to the sanctuary, you can even personally release some turtle hatchlings and cheer them on as they crawl towards the sea – surely an experience to remember.
Opening Hours: 9.30am – 4.30pm | Closed on Mondays
Entrance Fees: Free
2. Be enchanted by twinkling fireflies on the Kuala Selangor Firefly Cruise
Looking for something that’s not too far from Kuala Lumpur? Kuala Selangor, which is only about an hour’s drive away, is the perfect weekend escape from the city. During the day, you can visit Remis Beach and feast on fresh seafood or drop by Bukit Melawati to visit the historical lighthouse and resident Silver-Leafed Monkeys and Long-Tailed Macaques.
At night, however, head to Pasir Penambang Jetty, Kampung Kuantan or Bukit Belimbing and hop on a firefly cruise. Many cruises use motorized boats, which will cause noise pollution that disturbs the sensitive fireflies. So for a more eco-friendly option, choose the rowing boats, which are navigated by an experienced boatman. Drift gently down the river, past berembang trees where firefly colonies sparkle and twinkle in the darkness. Cruises typically last around 30 minutes.
Opening Hours: 8pm – 10.30pm
* Tours run daily, but if it’s been a rainy day, some tours may be canceled. Check with the cruise operator for updates.
Fees: Depends on the cruise operator, but it’s usually around RM50 per boat (2-4 people) or RM15 per person.
3. Glimpse at semi-wild orangutans during feeding time at Semenggoh Wildlife Center
Located 30 minutes away from Kuching, Semenggoh Wildlife Center used to be the home of the largest orangutan rehabilitation program in Malaysia. However, due to the success of the program, the 653-hectare Semenggoh Forest Reserve has reached its full capacity for orangutans, which number over 20.
While the rehabilitation program has since moved to Matang Wildlife Center, Semenggoh is still one of the best spots to see orangutans up-close, as those that had “graduated” from the program still visit the center twice a day during feeding time (9am and 3pm daily).
Opening Hours: Open daily | 8am – 10am and 2pm – 4pm
Senior citizens, disabled persons: RM3
18 years old and below: RM2
Below 6 years old: Free
Adults, senior citizens: RM10
Disabled persons: RM5
18 years old and below: RM5
Below 6 years old: Free
4. Witness majestic eagles soaring in the skies above Langkawi
Considered the jewel of Kedah, Langkawi is an island full of captivating natural wonders and intriguing myths and legends. Birds of prey, particularly eagles, are a common sight here – some believe that the island was named after the noble birds.
Most visitors will explore Langkawi’s enigmatic mangrove forests and limestone caves by boat first before setting off for the open sea to catch sight of the eagles. The island is home to a variety of bird-of-prey species, including rarer ones, but you’re more likely to see the White-bellied Fish Eagle and the Brahminy Kite as they circle above and hunt for food. If you’re lucky, you may even spot some dolphins in the water.
Tours usually take up half a day and cost around RM100 per person.
5. Have a splashing time with elephants at Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary
Set within the Krau Wildlife Reserve in Pahang, the Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary is run by the Malaysian Department of Wildlife and National Parks – so you know it’s not simply a for-profit business that disregards the elephants’ wellbeing.
The sanctuary is home to orphaned, displaced and rescued elephants under the National Elephant Conservation Center and was set up to educate the public about elephants and elephant conservation. The best part is, of course, the hands-on activities, such as feeding time and bath time (yes, you actually get to wade into the river and help bathe young elephants!).
Opening Hours: Monday – Thursday, Saturday and Sunday | 8am – 1pm, 2.30 pm – 4.30 pm
Friday | 8am – 12.30pm, 2.30pm – 4.30pm
Fees: For the bathing activity, it is compulsory for visitors to register ahead of time and hire a Nature Guide Service with a fee of RM10 (Adults) and RM5 (Children).
* Visitors are encouraged to contact the centre to facilitate arrangements if you plan to come in a big group. Visit their official website for more information.
6. Meet the gentle Malayan Tapir at Sungai Dusun Wildlife Conservation Center
Did you know that the Malayan Tapir is the only tapir species native to Asia? These shy herbivores are endangered in the wild, so the Malaysian Department of Wildlife and National Parks set up the Malayan Tapir Conservation Center (MTCC) to provide refuge for displaced tapirs, breed them in captivity and conduct research to learn more about these interesting beasts.
Currently, the MTCC is home to 12 tapirs (five males and seven females), which is half of the captive population in Malaysia. Here, you’ll get the rare chance to see tapirs in person! You may even get to spot baby tapirs, which have striped-and-spotted coats for camouflage that eventually fades away to the iconic black and white coat seen on adult tapirs.
For more information, check out their official website.
7. Marvel over the world’s smallest bear at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Center
The Bornean Sun Bear is the smallest bear species in the world. They’re also known as the “honey bear”, thanks to their insatiable appetite for honeycombs and honey, which they obtain using their long claws and comically long tongues (that can extend up to 25cm!).
The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Center was founded with the mission to care and rehabilitate rescued sun bears, conduct research on these special creatures and to increase public awareness about them. The centre is equipped with key facilities including an observation platform, boardwalk and a visitor centre. The best time to visit would be before 3pm, as the bears are the most active then.
Opening Hours: 9:00am – 3.30pm (all year round, including holidays)
Adults (18 and above): RM5.30
Youths aged 12-17: RM2.10
Kids under 12: Free
Adults (18 and above): RM31.80
Youths aged 12-17: RM15.90
Kids under 12: Free
Note: Cameras with lenses 500mm and above will incur additional fees.
Ready to get wild and learn more about Malaysia’s wonderful wildlife? Don’t forget to book your hotel stay and flights on Traveloka!