There are many beautiful creatures on the planet. We first learned about the animal kingdom at school and from our textbooks – and now we can watch them in their natural habitat from the comfort of our homes, thanks to educational programs like National Geographic and Animal Planet.
Although many of us aren’t as fortunate to be able to see these animals in the flesh, we can’t help but be curious about them. Where do they live? And how? .
Then there are also rare species we’ve heard about and may not have heard about. In this article, here are 8 rare animals in Asia you didn’t know existed and where you can see them.
This rare species can only be found in Southeast Asia, mainly in Borneo. They’re just 4 – 6 inches tall, but they’ve got hind legs that are twice the length of their torso. Did you know that their eyes are actually the size of their brains?
These carnivorous creatures feed on insects. They hunt their prey by ambush. Apart from insects, tarsiers also consume other small animals such as birds, bats, snakes and lizards. What makes them rare too? They’re impossible to breed in captivity.
Where to find them: Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia and the Philippines
2. Javan Rhino
The Javan Rhinos are the most threatened of the five rhino species. Back then, there were still many of them in Indonesia and other regions of Southeast Asia. But their population has declined tremendously and they’re now listed as a critically endangered species. None of them are living in captivity.
It is said that the Vietnam War left a big impact on the species – one of the reasons why these rhinos are moving towards extinction. The last one in Vietnam was poached in 2010. Some sources considered them the rarest largest mammals in the world. In terms of size, the Javan Rhino is smaller than its cousins, the Indian Rhinoceros.
Where to find them: Ujung Kulon National Park in Java, Indonesia
3. Yangtze River Dolphin
Also known as ‘Baiji’ or “Goddess of the Yangtze”, the Yangtze River Dolphin is a critically endangered species and according to scientists, the species may already be extinct. The last sighting was in 2002, and in 2006, scientists from the Baiji Foundation ventured to the Yangtze River for any signs of the Baiji, but they were unable to detect any.
There are several factors that may have caused the decline of the species: overfishing, habitat loss, water pollution, boat traffic and poaching. Sadly, the Yangtze River Dolphins are poached for their skin that are used to make gloves and handbags.
Where to find them: Yangtze River, China (You have to be extremely lucky to spot one!)
4. Red Panda
Unlike Giant Pandas, the Red Pandas are much smaller and have a red, bear-like body which is larger than a domestic cat, and thick russet fur. The name panda derived from the word ‘ponya’, which means bamboo or plant eating animal, in the Nepali language. Contrary to popular belief, the Red Panda is not closely related to the Giant Panda!
They have white markings on the side of their head and above their small eyes. This herbivorous species is very flexible especially on trees (that’s where they live). 50% of their population is based in the Eastern Himalayas. During winter, they keep themselves warm with their long, bushy tails.
Where to find them: Nepal, Northern Myanmar (Burma) and Central China mountains
5. The Saola
Found in Laos and Vietnam, the Saola, or also known as ‘Asian Unicorn’, is closely related to cattles and is one of the rarest animals in the world. The first encounter was reported in late August, when the villagers of Xaychampon District of Bolikhamxay Province caught it in the wild. Unfortunately, the captured adult male died after several days in captivity.
Founded and declared as a new species in May 1992, the Saola is considered a mysterious living being, with long horns and white markings on the face. Because chances of encountering it in the wild is extremely low, the last two photos captured were in 1999, in the same province where the species was first spotted. You won’t find it in zoos anywhere in the world.
Where to find them: Bolikhamxay Province in Laos
6. Saiga Antelope
What’s amazing about the Saiga Antelope is the animal’s amazing migrations, and apart from moving around in groups (which is totally normal), the species has other reasons to increase their momentum: loss of habitat and illegal hunting. This species, that stands between 108 – 150 cm, has long, thin legs that help it to run fast and cinnamon coloured coat to keep it warm during cold winters. Male Saiga Antelopes can weigh between 30 – 50 kg and the females can weigh between 21 – 40 kg, and they can live up to 10 years. Oh by the way, check out its flexible nose too.
Where to find them: Central Asia
7. Langur Chato
Oh my, that looks like an elf! It’s actually a Langur Chato, a primate found in Asia, that lives up to 13,000 feet above ground. It’s got a short body and a small nose, with a body that’s either silver, grey, brown, red, black or golden. This adorable-looking creature mainly feeds on leaves, but also feeds on fruits, shoots, roots, flowers, grass and seeds.
Sighting it in the wild is rather rare and this mysterious creature is now facing deforestation, making it a critically endangered species.
Where to find them: India, Sri Lanka, Burma, Pakistan and Bangladesh
8. Proboscis Monkey
It’s funny that the Indonesians gave the Proboscis Monkey the nickname ‘Dutch Monkey’. They named it after the Dutch settlers who arrived on the island with big guts, similar to the stomach of the monkey. The animal is considered rare, and its unique, big nose is what we remember mostly about it.
Travellers from all around the world come to Borneo to watch the groups of monkeys by the river, especially at dawn. Whilst its presence can still be enjoyed, the animal’s population has slowly declined in the last 40 years due to deforestation.
Where to find them: Borneo
Now that you know these rare animals actually exist, are you curious to find and see them for yourself – in the wild? 😉
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