Malaysia has more than 200 species of mammals, ranging from the smallest shrews to the largest elephants. The country has several parks and reserves where this wildlife is protected, including those in such areas as Taman Negara, Sepilok Sanctuary, and Sarawak. Malaysia has the second highest number of endangered mammal species in Southeast Asia after Indonesia. Despite the government’s conservation effort, Malaysians are yet to realize the importance of wildlife conservation. Some of the Malaysia’ Critically Endangered mammals according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), are looked at below.
Critically Endangered Mammals
Eastern Sumatran Rhinoceros
The Eastern Sumatran Rhinoceros, scientifically named the Dicerorhinus sumatrensis harrissoni, is an endangered member of the Rhinocerotidae Family and an extant species of the Dicerorhinus Genus. It is grouped under large mammals although it is the smallest rhinoceros. Eastern Sumatran Rhinoceros measures 110 to 145 centimeters high at the shoulder and 2.3 to 3.2 meters in body length. The weight ranges from 500 to 1,000 kilograms. It has two horns with the larger being nasal horn while the smaller one is a stud. Its body is covered with a reddish brown hair. Eastern Sumatran Rhinoceros inhabits forests and swamps in both lowland and highland. They are solitary species and pairs only during mating and when rearing offspring. The female are ready for breeding at the age of six to seven year while a gestation lasts for 15 to 16 month. Eastern Sumatran Rhinoceros feeds mostly in the morning with its diet consisting of twigs, leaves, fruits, and shoots. Currently, only 100 Eastern Sumatran Rhinoceros are estimated to remain thus they are classed as Critically Endangered
The Black Shrew, scientifically named Suncus ater, is found on Mount Kinabalu in Malaysia. It is critically endangered due to the habitat loss. It is a creature similar in appearance to a mouse, with a black body and a brown head. The size is between 20 to 100 millimeters long. They have a small pair of eyes with poor vision but an excellent sense of smell and hearing. Black Shrew is a terrestrial mammal that forages on cereals, leaf vegetation, insects, worms, and nuts. As with many other varieties of shrews, the Black Shrew has a high metabolic rate and a voracious appetite. They can eat almost twice their body weight in food daily. They are solitary mammals and very aggressive towards each other.
Malayan Water Shrew
The Malayan Water Shrew, scientifically named the Chimarrogale hantu, is a species of shrew found only in Selangor in Malaysia. The species was initially listed as critically endangered but it is currently listed as near threatened. This species of shrew has a black coat on the top, tail surface, and sides, and a white underside. It has paws which aid mainly in swimming. The tip of its teeth is reddish due to the iron pigment which hardens the enamel. An adult Malayan Water Shrew can measure up to 10 centimeters in height and 20 centimeters in length. It lives by freshwater bodies with vegetation cover and spends much of the time under the water while feeding on fish, frogs, and tender plants.
Threats to Mammals in Malaysia
The above mammals and others, including the Convex Horseshoe Bat, Malayan Round-Leaf Bat, Sunda Pangolin, Malayan Tiger, Javan Rhinoceros, and Western Sumatran Rhinoceros, are either critically endangered or near threatened due to several negative human activities. These devastating threats include poaching, destruction of natural vegetation for settlement and agriculture, and logging. Climatic change has also affected most of the habitat composition leading to inadequate food and unfavorable condition which has affected the population of these mammals.