By Jaycee Jung
Love animals and want to explore some amazing Asian wildlife? Head to Myanmar and be mesmerised. As a nature-loving country, Myanmar is conscious about protecting its rich wildlife reserves.
Wildlife in Myanmar is a mix of species from North, South and Southeast Asia. Although the real numbers are unknown, there are approximately 300 species of mammals, 300 species of reptiles and 100 bird species throughout the country. There is also an extensive concentration of aquatic species found in Myeik Archipelago.
Myanmar is home to several jungles thickly populated with animals. The much-wanted leopards and tigers are pretty common here. You can find rhinoceroses, elephants, wild buffalos and wild boars in the highland areas. You will also find various species of monkeys including gibbons.
Reptiles including cobras, pythons and crocodiles also make Myanmar their home. You can find 27 species of turtles in different parts of the country. Exotic bird species can be found in the country’s wetlands and wildlife sanctuaries. Wildlife sanctuaries such as the Indawgyi Lake Wildlife Sanctuary and Inle Lake Wildlife Sanctuary are major stops for migratory birds, which can be seen from November to February.
There are primarily two types of forest in Myanmar – rainforest and monsoon forest. The rainforests face heavy rainfall almost 9 months of the year, while monsoon forests face rainfall 3 months a year and dry season for the remaining months.
Myanmar currently has 9 national parks, amongst which the Alaungdaw Kathapa National Park is the largest, covering an area of 160,500 hectares. There is a large population of wild elephants here, along with clouded leopards, jungle cats, Himalayan brown bears and sun bears.
If you are looking for an animal-watching trip, here are some ideas to consider.
Crocodile Watching Tour at Meinmahlakyune Wildlife Sanctuary
To enjoy crocodiles in their natural habitat, you need to head to Meinmahlakyune Wildlife Sanctuary. To get there, you need to travel from Yangon to Bogalay town and take a ferry to the wildlife sanctuary. Once you’ve arrived at the sanctuary, you can ride a boat to watch crocodiles in the river and on the shores.
We recommend dropping by the Kadonekani fishing village, located just one and a half hours away, where you can set aside some time to visit a monastic school and have lunch in the village itself.
Caption: Meinmahlakyune Wildlife Sanctuary is home to amazing birds.
Touring the Wildlife Sanctuaries
This trip is a long one and can take up to 2 weeks. You can start by visiting the Alaungdaw Kathapa Wildlife Sanctuary. This park has a small population of Asian elephants along with other animals such as wild pigs, gaurs, sambar deer, Himalayan brown bears and giant squirrels.
Carry on to Chattin Wildlife Sanctuary to see Eld’s deer, also known as thamin deer, which is an endangered species. You can end your trip by visiting the delta region of Ayeyarwady. The mangrove forests in the delta are home to colourful flora and fauna.
Caption: A golden deer at Chattin Wildlife Sanctuary.
Poe Kyar Elephant Camp and Moe Yun Gyi Wildlife Sanctuary
This tour involves visiting the elephants at Poe Kyar Elephant Camp and bird watching at Moe Yun Gyi Wildlife Sanctuary. Located only 4 hours’s drive from Yangon, Poe Kyar Elephant Camp allows you to watch elephants in their natural habitat. You can also enjoy an elephant ride, which usually lasts about an hour. Additionally, this is a place to watch the process of taming elephants.
After that, you can head to the Moe Yun Gyi wetland bird sanctuary, located about 4 hours away from the elephant camp. This bird sanctuary was established in 1896 as a reservoir and extends over 100 square kilometres. There are more than 42 waterbird species and 22 shorebird species here – a bird-watcher’s paradise, for sure!
Apart from these, you can plan a visit to the 2 UNESCO Biosphere Reserves of Myanmar – Inle Lake Wildlife Sanctuary and Indawgyi Lake Wildlife Sanctuary. If you want to enjoy exquisite mountainous jungle and wildlife, head to the Hkakabo Razi National Park in Kachin State, the northernmost state of Myanmar.
When it comes to wildlife exploration, the possibilities in Myanmar are endless. The jungles will mesmerise you with their unique flora and fauna. Do visit responsibly and enjoy your stay without disturbing the animals.