Brunei – In the northeast corner of Borneo, an island off the southeast coast of Asia, lies the tiny kingdom of Brunei. It may be a small country, with a population of just over 400,000, but there's an excellent reason for travelers to make a stop there: its rainforests are home to some of the animal kingdom's rarest creatures, many of which can only be found in the region.
A wonder to behold, their scarcity also means they're not always easy to find. Some of Brunei's wildlife is so precious that conservationists take care not to share detailed locations of animal sightings or typical habitats such as steaming waterfalls and shallow streams to ensure the safety of the animals.
Here are 10 of Brunei's most amazing animals, which any wildlife tourist should consider themselves privileged to see.
Pangolin – The small scaly anteater curls up when frightened. It looks a little like an armadillo and feeds exclusively on ants and termites. In traditional Chinese medicine It is sold as an alternative to rhino horns and elephant tusks as its scales are considered to have similar properties.
Hornbill – The helmeted hornbill, pictured, is particularly threatened because of the ivory on its head, says Shavez. "They are being killed in hundreds on Borneo. We don't have a serious problem with poaching in Brunei yet, but the problem is that it's a very small country, so even if you take one out, it disturbs the ecosystem."
Flying fox – This mysterious mammal is actually a bat, although as the name suggests, it's so big it looks more like a dog or fox with wings flying amongst the treetops. But fear not. Despite wingspans of up to five and a half feet, fortunately it's herbivorous. They can travel long distances and are important pollinators of the forest plants, Shavez explains. "They are like the bees of the night and very important for the ecosystem."
Slow loris – This tiny fella may look sweet, but beware, it is poisonous and capable of giving you a nasty bite. Unfortunately it may be a little too cute for its own good, and is in demand on the illegal pet trading market, according to conservationists working in the area.