Rich in species – the most emblematic of all being the orangutan – Borneo teems with exotic wildlife. Estimates suggest that over 222 species of mammals, 420 birds and hundreds of amphibians and fish exist in the 140-year-old Bornean rainforest. Incredibly, each month on average three new species are discovered by scientists, particularly in the huge expanse of virgin forest at the center of the island – a protected region known as the Heart of Borneo.
As the third largest island on the planet, Borneo has plenty of room for wildlife. Seven distinct ecoregions cover the area, allowing for a superb breadth of species to thrive in its tropical rainforests, including leopard cats and Malayan sun bears. It is also one of the only places on earth where tigers, rhinos, orangutans and elephants live together.
Off the huge Bornean coastline, visitors can scuba dive through aquamarine water to explore incredible marine ecosystems where sea turtles, whale sharks and more than 170 species of coral reef thrive.
The key species in Borneo
With 44 endemic mammals and 37 endemic birds known to inhabit the island, the wildlife in Borneo is as unique as it is flourishing.
Look out for:
1) Bornean orangutans
The largest tree-climbing mammal and a species that shares 97% of its DNA with humans, the orangutan has become the symbol of Borneo. Unfortunately, the three species of orangutan that inhabit the Bornean rainforest are now critically endangered consequences of both the forest fires and deforestation that have ravaged the island.
2) Bornean bay cat
Critically endangered, the Bornean bay cat is now one of the rarest feline species in the world. Endemic to the island, they are secretive and nocturnal and so rarely sighted that scientist know very little about their behavior.
3) Eastern Sumatran rhinoceros
The most critically endangered rhino species in the world, only 13 individuals are believed to now exist, inhabiting parts of Borneo, Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula.
4) The black-crowned pitta
Endemic to the lowland tropical rainforest of Borneo, this brightly colored bird lives on the ground thanks to a lack of terrestrial predators. This species can be identified by its black head that contrasts strongly with the crimson red of its belly and the small patches of blue on its wings.