There are many people asking me about the wildlife at Pangkor and what animals can be seen. Although Pangkor is small, there is some interesting wildlife. Here we present some of them. Some are easy to find, others take more effort.
Animals like this monitor lizard do not often enter houses but it does very occasionally happen. However, you WILL see them in the wild. They are curious animals and for that reason they are often killed by cars. Despite their fearsome appearance, they're more scared of you than you of them.
On this page we have a look at a selection of animals living in and around Pangkor. These are the ones you are, with a little effort, might see.
Hornbills belong to the most spectacular birds at the island. The Giant Hornbill is a very large bird, roughly 120 cm in total length. The male has a red eye. The female's eye is white. Giant hornbills have a yellow slash in their wings and a big yellow bill. They are often heard before they're seen. If you hear a whoosh, whoosh, whoosh sound, look up!
Their wings make this sound when flapping. There's a steady shhhhhh sound when they're gliding. However, the Giant Hornbill is not a natural inhibitor of Pangkor, they were imported from Sarawak. The Giant Hornbill is very shy. Your best bet to see them is to stay at Tiger Rock. In the evenings they will be reasonable easy to spot.
A true original of Pangkor is the Lesser Hornbill, the smaller cousin. It is the Lesser Hornbill you will most likely see when visiting the island. The Lesser Hornbill is not shy, they will come whenever there is food available. You will see regular a dozen or so flying and hopping around your hotel/guesthouse.
The story goes there are three hornbill families living at the island. One lives around Nipah Bay, the second around Pasir Bogak and the third a bit further south from Pasir Bogak.
The Hornbills are all fruit eaters though they do eat insects, reptiles etc. The hornbill nests in the higher parts of Pangkor. The jungle here is dense and the trees are big enough for the hornbill to create a nest inside the tree.
The female will stay inside the nest while the male is responsible for the feeding of mate and chicks. Usually they produce 2 or 3 chicks.
Hornbills do not have many natural enemies. Their worst enemy at Pangkor is probably the biawak, monitor lizard, who is a good climber and eats virtually everything he can get although they are primarily scavengers.
The crow who, if he can, will rob the nests and eat the chicks. Like I said, it's impossible not to see a hornbill during your visit at the island.
Marine wildlife at Pangkor: turtles and tortoises
Turtles are part of Malaysia marine wildlife. The ordinary land turtles (tortoise) can be found in the jungle or even around the house. I've seen a few.
Usually they are small, between 10 and 20 cm. Tortoises are not easy to spot too. In the high grass they are easily overlooked but if you search well enough, you will find some.
On the beach near Segari (wo km north of Pangkor) there is the main breeding area of marine turtles in Perak located.
At the beach side there is a turtle breeding station where the Department of Fishery breeds eggs and set them back in the sea, once the young turtles have a chance to survive.
Although the breeding station is a fantastic way of seeing these beautiful animals alive, the best way to see them, of course is in their natural environment: the sea.
Diving is the best way to explore marine wildlife at Pangkor. Fortunately we can go again and explore Sembilan Islands, check our diving pages.
Of all wildlife at Pangkor, the monkeys are the most common. Most of the monkeys belong to the family of macaque. There are curious and not afraid of humans. In fact they do every now and then steal food from the beach visitors when they have a dip in the Straits of Malacca.
Monkeys are omnivores although they have a preference for fruits which is abundant available in the jungle of the Pangkor hills.
When going around at the circle road at Pangkor you'll see many. On the mainland you find them mostly at the plantations although occasionally they can be seen in the towns.
The main species at Pangkor are macaques but you might see the more shy cappuncier monkey too. To find these, you have to go further in the forest.
Monkeys in Pangkor tend to try to rob your bags in search for food. If you go to the beach with food, make sure there is someone with your bags if monkeys are around. As they don't understand the value of your camera, they will smash things around until they have what they want.
The Crested Argus is a peacock-like pheasant with dark-brown-spotted black and buff plumage. It is very rare sight of wildlife at Pangkor.
Until February 2012 I had no idea these shy birds were part of the wildlife at Pangkor island. It was by accident I found out about these elusive birds.
During a jungle trekking over Pangkor Island we found a tail feather of the crested argus. Little is known about this species in the wild. The Crested Argus is found in forests of Vietnam, Laos and Malaysia in Southeast Asia. The diet consists mainly of, invertebrates, mollusks, amphibians, small reptiles, bamboo shoots, leaves, fruits and fungus.
During the jungle trekking I have done over Pangkor I have never seen these birds but during one trekking with my friends son Johan, he found the meter long feather.
Due to ongoing habitat loss as well as overhunting in some areas, the Crested Argus is evaluated as Near Threatened.
Mudskippers belong to some of the weirdest animals you can imagine. The mudskipper is a fish but spends much of its life above the water. If you visit a mangrove swamp forest, for example the one near Lumut, Taman Paya Bakau, you will plenty of these strange fish.
The main place to look for mudskippers at Pangkor is the Teluk Dalam beach as this beach is more muddy, the environment these fish love.
To breath they have an airbag. Mudskippers can't live far away from water but they can stay hours above water if necessary.
Sea otters can be seen at Pangkor island. I saw them once during a school holiday just in front the Pasir Bogak.
Sea otters are not often seen which is mostly because they live much of their time in the sea, away from people.
The diet of sea otters is primarily fish and they are very good in catching them. Sea otters still live at several places along the Malaysian west coast. I have seen them at Pangkor, Kuala Sepetang (near Taiping) in the mangrove forests and even at the Penang jetty.
In February 2012 I saw a single sea otter swimming out of a canal in Butterworth towards the sea. It was an amazing sight because while I was watching the otter had caught a fish and was lying on his back in the water eating the fish.
Crabs and octopus
Sandcrabs belong to some of the most widespread animals to be found at the beach. Just dig a few minutes and the chance is big you find some small sandcrabs. The big crabs are usually to be found in the mangrove forest.
Crabs are real survivors. They are the favorite prey of octopus. And if you are really lucky, you might catch one at the beach. The photos below were made after we caught a crab and a little octopus with a little bucket.
Biawaks or Monitor lizards
A description of wildlife at Pangkor (and Malaysia) is not complete without mentioning the biawak, or monitor lizard.
Biawaks are the slightly smaller cousins of the more well known Komodo Dragon living in Indonesia (Rincon and Komodo islands). The biawaks are by no means as aggressive as the Komodo Dragon. Usually they are running faster away from you than you can chase them.
Biawaks are widespread all over Malaysia. At the mainland they like to live on the estates living on small rodents, eggs, fruits, fish, dead meat and anything they can get. In a way these elusive animals have a similar function as crows and ravens.
Biawaks are very territorial. This means you will most likely see the younger and slightly smaller animals going around (and be killed on the roads) while the older and larger ones stay inside the safety of the plantations chasing all the competition away.
When cycling or motor-biking around the island you'll find them mostly at the northern part of the island since it's a bit more remote. The area around the incinerator, despite being very ugly, is an ideal habitat for monitor lizards.
Having said that, biawaks can be found anywhere. Do not be surprised when you open you hotel room and see them running away between the chalets.
Biawaks can be seen in the Taiping Zoo. Funny enough you might see wild monitor lizards in the zoo trying to steal the food meant for the zoo animals.
The biawaks are exceptional good swimmers. They are very curious and not much afraid as long as you don't move much. Fully grown monitor lizard can be as big as two and a half meter. This is at last the size I have seen here at a plantation when cycled through.
When going around you will find many dead on the roads. In some cities, like Sitiawan, you can even eat biawak meat. It's good and tasty. If you go to Teluk Senangin, and stay for awhile at the beach there, it's most likely you will see huge biawaks coming out of the sea with prey.
All along in Malaysia you will find also the little brother of the biawaks: the lizards, sometimes named Ghekko because of the sound the make. You will most likely see many of them.
Sometimes you will find them on the walls in houses, stores and offices. The ghekkos are harmless, in fact they are very useful because their favorite food is: mosquitoes!
Lizards live almost everywhere and eat a lot of different things, including snake eggs, dead meat, fish etc. It really depends on the size what they can eat.
The one in the photo here is watching TV through the window in my house in Sitiawan.
Wildlife at Pangkor includes quite a few eagles breeding and hunting in and around Pangkor. Visitors at Pangkor are often welcomed by eagles.
The sea eagle is one of the biggest and (to me) most majestic birds of prey in this part of Malaysia. They are quite common here. Some of the sea eagles nest on the mainland (in the hills near Teluk Batik and Teluk Rubiah).
They hunt on fish and smaller animals like mice, rabbits, rats and squirrels if they can get them. You will see the eagles regularly gliding above Pangkor island though you won't easy see them very close.
Eagles, especially Red Eagles are common in and around Pangkor. There's even a spot near Teluk Rubiah where, if you are lucky, you can see 30 to 40 of them hanging out together, playing with the river water.
In Malaysia you can find plenty of snakes, some venomous, some are not. Snakes are hardly seen at daytime. Many are shy and silent hunters in the jungle or on the plantations.
Malaysia has some very well known and dangerous snakes who lives mostly in the kampongs and jungle areas.
Cobras and pythons do live here but the change you see them is very small.
Snakes are usually shy animals and only attack either when they are afraid or very hungry.
As part of wildlife at Pangkor, you may see thin green snakes in the trees. Just maybe.
Most of the snakes you might see are the ones on the road side, overridden by cars.
I have had my own meetings with snakes, one was especially scary: you can read the full story here about my encounter with a cobra at a plantation near Bruas, not far from Sitiawan.
In the jungle of Pangkor and on the main land there wild boar living. The wild boar is heavy hunted and nowadays shy and afraid of humans
Locals hunt them for their meat (it is much like pig but has a wild taste. If you have ever tasted wild and domesticate rabbit you understand the difference).
Wild boar, like their domesticated cousin eats pretty much everything. One could say they are the garbage men of the jungle as they clean the area.
If you are going out on a hike you most likely find trails of wild boar. Look for areas where the ground is ploughed. This is usually a sign a wild boar has been digging here.
Although wild boar are in principle not dangerous, they do attack quickly and their fearsome tusks can give severe wounds. Stay at distance and you're safe.
The main place to see wild boar is at Vikry Beach Resort, where they come at night and get food from the owners.
Another option to see quite some wildlife is to visit the Taiping zoo.