Visit Borneo's Rainforest Bursting With Vibrant Wildlife

A wildlife paradise, Borneo is home to some extraordinarily diverse species roaming its lush green forests
A young orangutan peeling fruit
A young orangutan peeling fruitWikimedia Commons: Joe Hunt

Divided among three countries - Indonesia, Malaysia and the tiny nation of Brunei - Borneo is one the largest islands in the world. The rainforest of Borneo is said to be over 140 million years old and is at the centre of the evolution and distribution of the most extraordinary plant and animal species around the globe. Asia's largest island also happens to be an important refuge to several endemic species such as the Borneo pygmy elephant and the eastern Sumatran rhinoceros. 

Popular among adventurers, wildlife enthusiasts and scuba diving aficionados, Borneo is a great destination throughout the year. An acre of its rainforest includes over 300 varieties of plants and animal species. Keep your binoculars ready and be on alert for these rare animal species that roam the lush green grounds of the island. 

Proboscis Monkeys 

Proboscis monkey
Proboscis monkey Wikimedia Commons: Charles J. Sharp

Recognized among the locals as the 'pride of Borneo', the proboscis monkey is one of many unusual species of animals one can observe on the island. Their reddish-brown nose, which can reach upto 18cm, are key to attracting mates and amplifying warning calls. Strictly protected, the monkeys are an endangered species. Their population is dwindling at an alarming speed due to logging and oil palm plantations eroding their habitat. 

Bornean Orangutans 

OrangutanWikimedia Commons: Ridwan0810

Coexisting with the proboscis monkey, the Bornean orangutans represent one of the only orangutan populations in Asia, the other being Sumatra. Thriving in the lively vegetation of the Bornean rainforests, they are an intelligent species with a highly complex ability to use tools. They also exhibit distinct cultural patterns in the wild but are critically endangered. The arms of these enormous apes can reach upto 1.5m in length.  

Sun Bears

Sun bear
Sun bearFlickr: John Quine

Sun bears are native to Borneo and are known for their insatiable craving for honey. They inhabit the lowlands of the rainforest and are a nocturnal species. They are quite shy and often extremely challenging to spot in the wild. If you spot one while they are out hunting, look closely at their long tongue, which can extend to nearly 25cm. 

Borneo Pygmy Elephants

Bornean elephants
Bornean elephantsWikimedia Commons: Cede Prudente, World Wildlife Fund, Malaysia

Nowhere near as big as their cousins in Africa and India, the Borneo pygmy elephants are absolute cuties. With their gigantic ears that don't match their baby-like faces and their plump bellies, you will fall in love at first sight. The friendliest of all elephants, these Bornean natives are truly a gift of nature. 

Mouse Deers

Mouse deer
Mouse deerFlickr: One more shot Rog

Barely a foot tall, the mouse deer gives the pygmy elephants a run for their money as the cutest creatures of Borneo. While its hooves might make it look a deer and its face is reminiscent of a mouse, it is surprisingly not related to either. The smallest hoofed species in the world, they have a remarkable reproduction cycle, with females known to conceive just two hours after giving birth.  

Slow Lorises

Slow loris
Slow lorisFlickr: Charles Ryan

Google 'slow loris' and if you don't go "awww" then I really can't help you. These primates might look harmless but are actually venomous. Possessing a toxic bite, they can also lick their fur to coat it with venom to protect their young. Mainly venturing out at night, these lovely creatures can be a task to spot in the wild, so be attentive at all times.

Rhinoceros Hornbills

A rhinoceros hornbill
A rhinoceros hornbill Wikimedia Commons: A.Baihaqi

Ruling the skies of these magnificent and diverse island are the rhinoceros hornbills. These large birds are a sheer delight for bird lovers wanting to bless their Instagram feed with photos of exotic species. Feeding on anything from fruits to small rodents, their orange beaks make them stand out among the fauna. 

Getting There

Borneo has several international airports such as the Kota Kinabalu International Airport in Sabah, Kuching International Airport in Sarawak and Sultan Aji Muhammad Sulaiman Sepinggan Airport in Kalimantan. Travelers planning for a trip there should protect themselves against malaria and dengue fever. 

Indian nationals need to apply for a Brunei visa. They do not need to apply for a Malaysian visa if they stay for 30 days for tourism purposes. Indians can avail of an electronic visa-on-arrival facility when travelling to Indonesia.

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