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SE Asia’s wildlife hot spots

Orangutan
SE Asia’s wildlife hot spots

For those with a wildlife check list, here are the places to go to see Asia’s most iconic animals.  All of these can be worked in to a general itinerary. 

1.  Komodo dragon - Indonesia
Also known as the Komodo Monitor, the world’s largest lizards are found on the Indonesian islands of Komodo, Flores, Rinca and Padar. The scaly giants can grow up to 12 feet in length, and weigh up to 150lbs.
While the dragons are the main attraction, this region also offers some of the world’s best diving, with a chance to see manta rays, tropical fish, sharks, turtles, Pygmy sea horses, dolphins and more among the vibrant underwater worlds.

2. Asian elephants – Sri Lanka
The elephant gathering in Minneriya National Park, four hours from the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo is the largest recurring gathering of Asian elephants known to exist anywhere on earth. Over 300 of them congregate here every September and October to graze, drink, bathe, play and even find mates, forming a wall of grey around the watering areas.
The scrub plains, evergreen forests, rocky outcrops and wetlands are also home to 24 mammals, including leopards, sloth bears, macaques, spotted deer, sambar, wild buffalo, wild boar and porcupine.

3: Indo Chinese tiger - Cambodia
The Cardamom mountains are home to some of the thickest, wildlife-filled rainforests in Southeast Asia.
This is one of the last remaining habitats for Indochinese tigers, wild Asian elephants, clouded leopards, Asiatic black bears, Malayan sun bears, Irrawaddy dolphins, humpback dolphins, Siamese croc and more.


4: Habituated orangutan -  Malaysia
Wildlife lovers exploring Malaysia will head to Sabah. As well as being home to the Batu Caves, whose exodus of hundreds of thousands of bats from the caves each evening is a mighty spectacle to behold, Sabah is also one of the best opportunities to see orangutans.
Sightings in the wild requires patience, as the shy and elusive animals are likely to bolt at the sign or sound of people. For a closer look and a sure thing, head to Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre, one of only three orangutan sanctuaries in the world. Orangutans are still essentially wild here, but they’re fed by rangers and habituated enough to human presence to not mind being watched in fairly close proximity.
It’s a great chance to see adult and infants going about daily life, resting, eating, grooming, plus acrobatically swinging and dangling from vines and tree branches.

5: Whale Shark – Philippines
There’s a good reason why swimming with whale sharks is on many travelers’ bucket lists: sharing the water with a spotted fish as big as a truck is an absolutely unforgettable wildlife experience. Donsol Bay off the laidback fishing island of Luzon, is one of the world’s whale shark capitals, with sightings all but guaranteed.
Boat tours cruise the bay, with spotters high up on the deck or rigging looking for whale sharks. Once spotted, it’s time to quickly put on masks and snorkels, and go for a memorable swim with the mighty behemoth. Over the course of three or four hours out in the Bay, you could swim with three, four or more whale sharks.

6: Tarsiers – Philippines
Tarsiers are one of the tiniest and cutest animals you’re ever likely to come across, with palm-sized bodies and huge eyes popping out of their heads. One of the world’s smallest primates, they’re part of the Tarsiidae family, rather than monkeys, as they’re sometimes wrongly referred to.
Bohol is the place to find them, the same island that’s home to the tasty-looking Chocolate Hills, with two key options: the Tarsier Sanctuary, near Corella, and the Tarsier Conservation Area, near Loboc. Tarsiers are quite easy to find with the help of local rangers, as they have favorite positions in the trees that they like to sit in each day.


7: Sea turtles - Thailand
Thailand’s most popular and busiest vacation island, Phuket might not seem an obvious choice for a wildlife hotspot. Mai Khao, though, continues to be one of the few Phuket beaches that welcome nesting turtles.  Eggs are rescued from surrounding beaches, where the natural, peaceful environment they need isn’t always easy to find. The eggs are then given to the Phuket Marine Biological Centre who provide a safe home for them to hatch and time for the young turtles to gain strength before finding their true home in the ocean.

8:  Pangolin – Vietnam
Ba Be Lakes National Park is 60 square miles of land adorned with limestone karsts, tall mountains, glistening lakes and lush green forests, all of which are home to an array of wildlife species, including the unique and endangered pangolin.  Vietnamese Salamander, Tonkin snub-nosed langur monkeys, loris, leopards, tigers, black bears, gibbons and crocodiles also live here. Macaque monkeys are the most frequently sighted animals.

9: Leopard - Sri Lanka
Yala National Park is one of Sri Lanka’s largest and most popular national parks, and a stomping ground for the highest density of leopards in Asia.  During June and July when the palu trees are in fruit, sloth bears are also often seen. Other animals you might spot include sambar (a kind of deer), spotted deer, buffalo, wild pig, stripe-necked and ruddy mongooses, Langur monkey, toque monkey, golden jackal, Indian palm civets, and crocodiles.

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