10 Astonishing Animals That Live Exclusively in Asia

Life on Earth is enormously diverse. It takes millions and millions of shapes. Some of them are known and existent. Some went extinct before we got to know them. And others are still a complete mystery.

Scientists define species as a group of living things that almost have the same characteristics. They might exhibit a few differences but those do not set them completely apart. An example of that is human beings. Physically speaking, we are all the same, despite some clear differences between men and women. 

When the differences between members of one species are many and quite remarkable, scientists separate them into multiple species or subspecies. Plants, animals, and insects all have thousands and thousands of different species.

According to scientists, there are more than 8.5 million species on Earth. However, they, the scientists, could only identify around 1.2 million of them and the rest remains unknown to us. 

Since each species is distinct, dealing with each one of them as being completely unique is tremendously overwhelming. That is why scientists had to come up with different other classifications to help rearrange species and make studying them easy.  

So, all in all, there are seven ranks. They go from having very specific characteristics to being broad. Species are the basic unit. Then we have genus, family, order, class, phylum, kingdom, and domain.

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Take the family rank, for example. It exhibits many species that might have many physical facets in common but are still remarkably different. Brown bears, black bears, polar bears, and giant pandas belong to the Ursidae family. Similarly, the Felidae family includes all kinds of cats, big or small.

Those millions of species are distributed all over the planet. Sometimes, the same species can be found in many different places. Other species live in only one place. For instance, polar bears are one species that is native to the north pole.

The places where species live are called habitats. Habitat is the perfect environment that has suitable conditions for every species to survive and breed. Some of these conditions are food, soil, the availability of water, sunlight, temperature, and whether or not there are predators around.

Habitat encounters changes. Some of these changes are caused by sudden natural disasters such as volcanoes, earthquakes, wildfires, or tsunamis. Other changes happen over a long period of time such as those caused by global warming.

Unfortunately, we, humans, also play a part in changing animal habitats. For example, habitats are destroyed when we cut down trees. This is called deforestation. Also, we reduce the amount of water available for animals when we build dams on rivers.

When habitat changes gradually, animals do their best to adapt to those changes. If they cannot, they immigrate to other places where more suitable conditions are available. But when the change is fast, direct, and severe such as that caused by natural disasters, many animals die causing their numbers to decrease dramatically. And without the help of humans, they may even go extinct.

Do you know how dinosaurs went extinct all of a sudden? Well, this question agonised scientists for years, especially since dinosaurs had lived on Earth for millions of years before they disappeared. Well, it was not until the 1980s that scientists could theorise what happened. According to them, an incredibly large meteorite hit Earth and killed every dinosaur that ever existed.

Animals found only in Asia

Asia is the largest continent. It comprises 48 different countries having different cultures and speaking a large variety of languages. Similarly, around 1768 distinct species live only in Asia. All those species are found across different countries. A large number of them, as we will see, are found in India.

Countries invest large amounts of money to preserve those animals and their habitat. That is why they build national parks to help protect the wildlife and allow animals to live better. The oldest national park was established in the USA in 1872.

In Asia, there are 1238 national parks, 350 of which are found in Singapore followed by Thailand with 147 national parks that comprise 11.96% of the total area of the country. India comes in third place with 116 national parks.

Let’s now look into 10 incredibly astonishing animals that live only in the national parks of Asia.

(1) Japanese Macaque

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The first animal that is native to Asia is the Japanese macaque. Telling by its name, the Japanese macaque is a monkey species that lives in Japan only. It is also referred to as the snow monkey because some individuals live in cold snowy places.

By the way, the Japanese macaques are the only monkey species that live in a cold climate. All other monkey species live in tropical rainforests found near the equator where the weather is hot and rainy.

Appearance 

OK. Back to the Japanese macaque. Appearance-wise, the Japanese macaque has a pink face and its entire body is covered with brown or light grey hair. This thick layer of hair perfectly protects the monkey from the cold. It makes it even survive when the temperature drops to -20 °C.

Interestingly, male and female macaques are quite different from one another. The average weight of males is 11.3 kg but females are much lighter. They weigh 8.4 kg on average. Males are also taller than females. While males can be 57.01 cm on average, females are 52.28 cm.

Both have short thick tails also covered with hair. The average tail length is 9.25 cm in males and 7.9 cm in females. One thing in which female macaques outperform males is lifespan. While females are known to live up to 32 years, males usually die aged 28 years at maximum.

Japanese macaques are famous for having different skills. They move on all fours; hands and feet. They can leap from one tree to another holding branches for support. They can also swim very well. In a 50-metre long Olympic pool, Japanese macaques can go back and forth five times in one short time!

Breeding and feeding

How Japanese macaques get married is also quite interesting. Usually, a female macaque chooses who to marry among differently-ranking males (We will know what ranks mean in a bit so hold on.) While many females usually choose the highest-ranking proposing male, other females mate with whoever they like regardless of his rank.

Female macaques pregnancy lasts for 173 days. That is around 5.6 months. Then they give birth to only one baby at a time. Both mom and dad take part in feeding and bringing up their baby. However, only moms are responsible for grooming their babies.

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Interestingly, a mother macaque carries her baby on her belly for the first four weeks after its birth, then on her back for more than 11 months to come.

When babies grow up, their behaviour depends on whether they are males or females. In general, female macaques usually stay in their birthplace while males may like to move out even before they are fully grown.

Speaking of food, Japanese macaques eat a variety of things on top of which are fruits and leaves. They also eat seeds, nuts, and herbs. When their favourite food is scarce, macaques eat soil, fish, insects, and tree bark. 

Society 

Japanese macaques have a pretty fascinating yet complicated social structure. First of all, macaques live in groups called troops that are usually settled around females. Mothers are the heart and centre of everything. In one big territory, there could be multiple troops. Troops have social ranks. In other words, some troops are more significant and distinguished than others.

Members of the one troop are both males and females. That being said, some troops can be of males only. But this is not very common as males like to spend most of their time on their own or either joining or leaving other troops.

As a general rule, females always have a high rank within their troops. When they give birth, their kids get high ranks accordingly. On the other hand, males can have different ranks ranging from the lowest rank, right at the bottom of the troop structure, to the highest rank which is only possessed by the chief or alpha.

The structure of a troop seems pretty much like that of any country or tribe. First, each troop has a male leader called alpha. The alpha is the strongest and fittest male in the entire troop but he does not have to be the oldest. The alpha has male vice presidents or sub-leaders with high ranks.

Those sub-leaders are followed by the female members whose positions are powerful such as politicians and businessmen in human societies. Following females are their kids who are privileged to have high ranks thanks to their mothers. The younger the baby macaque is, the higher rank it has.

Next is the rest of the males in the troop whose ranks are determined by their physical structure and fitness level. The stronger the male, the higher its rank. In other words, the macaque with the lowest rank in the troop is usually the weakest.

Male macaques may try to improve their social ranks by either fighting and beating other males or by mating with high-ranking females. Males also do not seem to stay in the same troop forever. They may leave it to live on their own or join another troop.

One thing that macaques do differently than humans is choosing the alpha. While humans elect a president, a macaque male rises to power by fighting. Based on what we mentioned earlier, for a male macaque to prove he is the best to lead the troop, he must be fit and enjoy a big, strong body.

Such strength allows the male running for alpha to fight other males and prove he is stronger. The more males he beats, the higher his rank becomes, just like in video games! Once he beats all the males in the troop, he announces his ultimate superiority and crowns himself as the alpha of the troop. That is why alphas are usually the most powerful members of the troops.

First female alpha

A troop of macaques, just like countries, can also experience coups. Coups happen when the military of a country overthrows the president. In this case, they prove to be the most powerful. The exact same thing happens with macaques. Stronger males who join the troop may fight and overthrow the alpha to become the new one.

In a very rare event, a troop alpha was beaten and overthrown but not by another male, instead by a female! In April 2021, a female macaque named Yakei became the alpha of her troop in Takasakiyama Natural Zoological Garden in Japan. The story of how this happened is as captivating as it is abnormal.

The nine-year-old female macaque Yakei was a member of a large troop of monkeys living in Takasakiyama Natural Zoological Garden. Her mom, Bikei, held the most powerful female position in the troop and 31-year-old Sanchu was the male alpha.

But Yakei was very ambitious and wanted to hold a powerful position herself. To prove she is stronger, Yakei fought and beat her own mother. Not feeling she got enough already, young Yakei went on to achieve her wildest dream of dominating the entire troop. So she fought with Sanchu, the alpha, and was able to beat him up.

Just to make sure they got it straight, that Yakei was seeking dominance over the troop, the guards in the park conducted a test. They placed peanuts in the troop and watched closely who was going to eat them first. Yakei stepped forward and ate the peanuts first while Snachu, the overthrown alpha, stepped back, feeling already weak and humiliated!

Yakei crowned herself as the new and the first-ever female alpha in the history of the garden. To express her power and dominance, Yakei started climbing trees and shaking their branches strongly. In addition, she was seen moving around in the park raising her tail. Both are not common behaviours among females.

And just like there are queens and female presidents, a Japanese macaque troop now has a female alpha.

(2) Snow Leopard

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Are you familiar with the animated movie Kung Fu Panda 1? Remember Tai Lung? Well, Tai Lung was a snow leopard and snow leopards are what we are discussing next.

Snow leopards are cat species that live in the snowy mountain ranges in central and south Asia, particularly in eastern Afghanistan, western China, southern Siberia, Mongolia, and the Himalayas. Their habitat is usually 3000 to 4500 m up in the mountains, yet they can live in lower altitudes as well.

Appearance

Though they are as spotted as regular leopards, snow leopards look more like tigers. Speaking of their appearance then, snow leopards are quite attractive. Their bodies are covered in thick white/grey fur with hairs of 5-12 cm long. Such fur allows snow leopards to survive in cold weather conditions. There are many black spots on their heads and necks while the belly is white.

Their eyes are either green or grey and their legs are shorter than those of other big cats. From foot to shoulder, snow leopards are only 56 cm tall while a cheetah’s shoulder height can be 94 cm at maximum. On the contrary, a snow leopard has a tail that ranges in length between 80 to 105 cm while a cheetah’s maximum tail length is 80 cm only.

The long tail of the snow leopard is heavy because it contains lots of fats. Like the rest of its body, the tail is also covered with thick fur. Interestingly, snow leopards use their long thick tails to cover and protect their faces while asleep. This tail also helps them stay balanced when walking in rocky areas while their wide paws help them walk properly on the snow.

In general, snow leopards weigh between 22 and 55 kg. However, sometimes male snow leopards can weigh up to 75 kg while the minimum female weight is less than 25 kg. They usually live 15-18 years in the wild but if they are kept in a zoo, they can live up to 25 years.

Unlike other big cats like lions and tigers and similar to cheetahs, snow leopards cannot roar. But they meow and purr.

Breeding and feeding

Snow leopards are fully grown after two to three years of their birth. This is when they can marry and have babies. The marrying season is usually winter. Female snow leopards stay pregnant for 100 days or so. That is a little more than three months so babies are usually born in the period from April to June.

A female snow leopard gives birth to two or three cubs at a time. In rare cases, she can have seven cubs! Moms take care of their babies for up to four months. This is when most cubs move out and live on their own.

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To search for food, snow leopards are mostly active during the day but in separate periods. First, they forage from dawn to early morning. Then they rest until noon before going out again for the rest of the day and in the early evenings.

Snow leopards usually feed on different animals that live around them. Their favourite prey, for example, is the Himalayan blue sheep, Himalayan tahrs, and wild goats. The area they move within is defined as their home or territory which they identify by leaving their scent behind. Such territories can range from 12 to 39 km² in area.

Skills

Speaking of skills, snow leopards do possess some impressive ones. First, they are fast runners. They can run at an average speed of 56 to 64 km/h. However, they can only maintain this speed for short distances.

When it comes to jumping, snow leopards are champions. The highest leap ever recorded by a snow leopard was 5 m up in the air. In addition, they are perfect mountain climbers and they can swim too.

Unfortunately, snow leopards are endangered because of the infrastructure development that is taking place and destroying their habitat. Nowadays, there are less than 10,000 snow leopards and the numbers are expected to decline over time.

(3) Asian Elephant

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The largest land animal is the elephant.

On Earth, there are three different species of elephants. Two are found in Africa and one in Asia. That means, despite the three species having trunks and big ears, there are different characteristics that set them apart.

The Asian elephant itself has three subspecies which possess tiny little differences.

The Asian elephant is found in Asia in multiple countries: India, Nepal, Sumatra, Borneo in, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Laos, the Malay Peninsula, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand, Vietnam, and Sri Lanka.

That being said, in what kind of places in those countries do Asian elephants live? Well, they can survive in the grassland open areas as well as in the evergreen forests. They can also live in high altitudes; areas of more than 3000 m high.

Appearance 

There are so many things that make Asian elephants so distinctive, the first being their size. One can simply say they are huge. However, this large size differs from male elephants to females which are called bulls and cows respectively by the way.

An adult male Asian elephant is about 2.8 m tall (from ground to shoulder) and weighs up to four metric tons! On the other hand, female Asian elephants can only be 2.4 m tall and as heavy as 2.7 tons.

Asian elephants have long tails that range in length from 1.2 to 1.5 m. The total body length from trunk to tail is estimated to be 5.5 to 6.5 m. Asian elephants can be even taller, longer, and heavier than that. For example, the largest male Asian elephant ever recorded lived in India in the early 20th century. It was around eight m long, 3.43 m tall and weighed seven tons!

Furthermore, Asian elephants are usually grey. Their skin is smooth, wrinkled, and mostly covered in dust or mud as elephants like to wallow in the water, covering themselves with mud and clay. This is one fun activity they like to do to feel comfortable.

Sometimes elephants’ skin is depigmented. It means some of its areas lose their dark colour due the lack of melanin in those areas. Melanin is a brown or black pigment found in humans’ and animals’ bodies and gives the skin, hair, and iris a dark colour.

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Another distinctive characteristic of Asian elephants is the trunk. A trunk in fact combines both the nose and the upper lip of the elephant. Unbelievably, it contains 60,000 muscles!

Asian elephants use their trunks to do many things. They help them breathe, eat, drink, touch, communicate, shower, dust, produce sounds, and even defend themselves. This very strong organ can hold up to 12 litres of water!

Though many other animals such as walruses and musk deers have long teeth or tusks, those of the elephant are both the longest and the strongest. Asian elephants have a pair of long curvy whitish tusks that are 1.5 m long and weigh around 47 kg. It is really hard to imagine having two teeth of 94 kgs! Only male elephants have tusks. Female elephants can have tinier teeth called tushes only seen when they open their mouths.

Asian elephants use their tusks to dig for water, lift things up, gather food, and remove bark from trees looking for food and water within. Tusks also allow elephants to pull trees out of the ground and knock them down. This way, they can easily eat their leaves and fruits. 

We know that humans are either right-handed or left-handed. The same applies to Asian elephants. They can be either right-tusked or left-tusked. If an elephant is right-tusked, that means the right tusk is more dominant and frequently used to do the functions mentioned above. Elephants’ tusks are not made of bones but rather of ivory. Ivory is heavier, denser, and whiter than bones.

Breeding and feeding

Animals take different periods of time to be able to get married and start a family. For Asian elephants, this usually happens when they are 12 to 15 years old. A female elephant may have multiple marriage proposals at the same time. Male elephants fight each other in order to prove they are the best possible husband.

A female Asian elephant stays pregnant for 8 to 22 months. That is quite a long period compared to the two-month pregnancy period for cats and the nine-month period for women.

Usually, a female Asian elephant gives birth to one cub but sometimes she can have twins. A baby elephant weighs around 100 kg at birth. Just a few minutes after their birth, cubs are able to stand on all four legs.

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Cubs feed on their mothers’ milk for three years. After that, they will start eating solid food until they get used to it. Once this happens, their mother is able to get married again and bring them brothers or sisters. That means elephant brothers are usually five or more years apart in age.

To forage, Asian elephants are usually active when the Sun is on the horizon either before sunrise or sunset. And since they live in grassland and forests, elephants either stretch their trunk down to uproot grass or up to pick up leaves.

Due to their large size, Asian elephants need a large amount of food daily to give them energy. That is why they eat around 150 kg of plants daily. 

Their diet is very diverse as they eat around 112 different species of plants. Besides, Asian elephants always stay near sources of freshwater. Although they drink only once a day, they consume around 80-200 litres in drinking, bathing, and other activities.

Like monkey troops, Asian elephants live in groups called herds which are led by females. The leader is usually the oldest and the largest of the herd. Female elephants live in those herds with their kids and sisters. Kids stay within the group whether they are males or females. When they become adults, male elephants usually leave the herd.

Asian elephants are mainly threatened as their habitat is being destroyed. Humans are cutting the trees in the areas where elephants live and on which they feed. However, the most serious reason why their numbers are decreasing is poaching.

Poaching is the illegal hunting and killing of animals to take advantage of their body parts. Asian elephants are being killed for their ivory, meat, and skin. Skin is used to make leather. In addition, it is used to make traditional Chinese medicine.

In a way to protect Asian elephants, give them extra care, and provide them with safer habitats, the governments of China, India, and Thailand are investing large amounts of money to build national parks and reserves for the elephants to live in.

(4) Painted Stork

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Like seagulls, painted storks are birds that live particularly near the coast, walking on the sand looking for food. While seagulls can be found pretty much around every coast there is in the world, painted storks are native to Asia, precisely in the tropical areas. These are hot areas with heavy rains. So they are usually found on the shores of rivers, lakes, and even canals.

That being said, painted storks are nowhere to be found in deserts or dry places.

Appearance

Painted storks are called painted due to the distinctive mix of colours that make up their bodies. Their heads are orange/red. Their beaks are yellow. Their wings are white, pink, and black. Their legs are pink, and their necks are white.

Interestingly, adult painted storks’ backs are bright white while those of immature ones are dull or grey.

Speaking of size, the painted stork is usually a meter tall. It is quite long too as it has a long neck, a long beak, and long legs and wings. Its wings, for example, from tip to tip are about 150-160 m long. They weigh between 2-3.5 kgs, which is way lighter than an adult cat.

To help the painted stork search for food, the tip of its beak is a little tilted. When they fly, they stretch out their heads.

Painted storks can live up to 28 years when being taken care of by humans.

Breeding and feeding

Painted storks build their nests on trees that are secure all year long. Then a female would lay one to five eggs at a time. A couple of male and female storks exchange sitting on the eggs to keep them warm. This is called incubation. 

Incubation lasts for 30 days then the eggs hatch. At birth, chicks are close-eyed and have no feathers at all. For the next two months, chicks’ parents would feed them fish. This helps them grow wing features and gradually prepares them to fly. During the summertime when the temperature is high, painted storks would stand at the nest and stretch out their wings to protect their chicks from the heat. 

Painted storks usually forage in groups and not individually. Interestingly, they keep their beak half-open, push it into the water, walk around and sweep the area of shallow water. Once they touch a small fish, they grab it by their beak and eat it.

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Sometimes, painted storks eat frogs and snakes too. They usually do this during the day. Once they are full, they do not go away. Instead, they stay still for long periods on the shore. Staring perpetually at the water.

(5) Red Panda

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Completely different from the regular panda bear is the red panda. It is found exclusively in the eastern Himalayas in Nepal, Bhutan, China, Bengal, Myanmar, and India. French zoologist Frédéric Cuvier was the first to describe red pandas in 1825. That was around half a century before the world knew giant pandas existed.

Do you know what that means? It means they were the first to be called pandas!

Like that of the snow leopard, the red panda’s habitat was recorded to be in high altitudes of 2000 to 4300 m. As we mentioned earlier, red pandas are found in different countries but collectively, they live in a total area of 47,100 km² divided among these countries.

Appearance 

Red pandas look very cute. Their entire body is covered with dense fur of different colours. For instance, the back and most of the tail are reddish-orange with a few black rings. The tip of the tail is black as well as the belly. Its face is a mix of white and orange but the nose is black. Cheeks are white. The muzzle, inner ears, and brows are white too.

Size-wise, the red panda is quite small. It has a body length of a maximum of 63.5 cm excluding the tail which, alone, is 28 to 48.55 cm. The red panda’s weight is different based on where it lives. The Himalayan red panda weighs 3.5 to 9.4 kg while the Chinese one is a bit heavier. Its maximum weight is 15 kg for males and 13 kg for females.

The red panda is a perfect climber thanks to its joints and claws. Like the giant panda, the red panda has a thumb. Well, it is not actually a thumb but rather an extension of a bone in the wrist. That is why it is called a false thumb. The red panda uses this false thumb to hold onto the bamboo, which is its main food.

Breeding and feeding

Red pandas can mate when they are a year and a half old. They usually get married from January to March. A female red panda stays pregnant for a little more than five months (precisely 158 days) then she gives birth to one to four cubs at a time.

While the painted stork’s babies have no features and are blind at birth, the red panda’s cubs are born completely covered in fur but blind as well. They stay with their mother for four months for feeding until they get a little strong to go out of the nest. However, they do not really separate from their mother. They continue staying with her until she gets married again.

Red pandas usually become fully grown when they are a year old. When they are kept in zoos and national parks where humans take special care of them, they can live up to 14 years. But if they live in the wild, they live less than that, especially because they are usually hunted by leopards. 

Red pandas are active during the night like owls and before sunrise and sunset like Asian elephants. These are the times of the day when they go out looking for food. They feed mainly on bamboo leaves like giant pandas. Typically, they eat more than 1.5 kg of bamboo leaves daily. Besides, they eat flowers, fruits, birds, eggs, and other small animals.

To communicate with one another, red pandas produce different sounds. For example, they bark like dogs and grunt like rabbits. More interestingly, red pandas tweet like birds.

Like most of the animals we discussed so far, red pandas are threatened by human activity. Humans destroy their habitat by cutting down trees and the growing population. Also, humans like to herd their animals in the areas where red pandas live. This highly disturbs the pandas, reduces the food available for them, and makes them feel insecure being surrounded by large numbers of large animals. 

Remember what poaching means? Poaching is the illegal killing of animals to take advantage of their bodies. This is another reason why red pandas are threatened. Many humans unfortunately hunt red pandas for their skin and fur which are illegally traded to make hats! Poaching has dramatically decreased the number of red pandas during the last 50 years.

Red pandas are quite unlucky as well. They sometimes fell into the traps made for other animals.

(6) Yak

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The yak or domestic yak is another animal that lives not just in Asia only but also high in the mountains. As seen in the picture, the yak looks more like a farm animal, maybe a cow?

Domestic yaks live in many different countries in Asia: India, Tibet, Myanmar, Yunnan, Pakistan, Mongolia, and even Siberia in Russia.

Appearance 

The yak is tough and bulky with strong, solid legs, round hooves, and very long fur that covers the entire body. This fur, which protects the yak from the cold, can be of different colours like black and brown or it can be rusty or creamy as well. The yak also has a big forehead, small ears, and thin smooth curvy horns that are usually darker than the fur.

Though they might not look large in the photo, those horns are really long. In males, they range from 48 to 99 cm long and 27-64 cm in females. Yaks have short necks and humps (like that of a camel) around the shoulders.

Male yaks are called bulls and females are cows. And just like most other animals, bulls are a lot heavier than cows. While the latter weighs 225-255 kgs, bulls range between 350-585 kg. This also applies to length. Male yaks are 1.3 m tall while females are 105 to 117 cm.

Because they are found in high altitudes, yaks’ bodies are packed with strong organs to help them survive in such severe conditions. For instance, they have larger lungs to help them breathe better. Their hearts are also larger than the hearts of the yaks that live in lower altitudes.

Breeding and feeding

Yaks can get married when they are three or four years old. This usually happens in the summer during the months of July to September. A female yak stays pregnant for 8.8 months at maximum and gives birth to one calf in May or June. Like newborn elephants, baby yaks are able to walk just minutes after birth. Newborn yaks nurse for a year then they start eating regular solid food. 

When yaks are kept in captivity, they can live up to 20 years or more. If they are in the wild, they live shorter periods than that. 

Yaks like to eat grass, flowers, and herbs but they can feed on mosses and tubers as well. 

Livestock 

The five animals we previously discussed are not eaten nor do they produce any material that can be consumed by humans. But this is not the case with domestic yaks as they seem to be of great help to humans.

Humans feed on yaks’ milk which is used to make cheese and butter, meat, and fibre as well which they use to make wool. Yaks are also used to help the farmers when planting new crops. They often plough or turn the soil before planting.

In addition, yaks are used to transport goods across mountains. However, routes have to be chosen very carefully. Since yaks eat grass, they have to pass by areas where there is grass while they transport goods in order to feed and get the energy to keep going. If they do not find any grass on their way, they will not eat anything else, not even the grains carried by the farmers, leading themselves to starvation.

Besides being that useful to humans, yaks seem to be an important part of the Nepalese culture. In one annual festival, locals usually drink the fresh blood of the yak. They believe it helps cure many diseases. But that does not mean they kill yaks for their blood. Not really. They just open a small wound in the neck of the yak, take out some fresh blood, and then cure the cut after the festival is over.

Similarly in Tibet, yaks are a vital part of the culture. They are generally used for racing and yak skiing. The latter is a very interesting sport. It usually involves a yak standing at the top of a mountain slope and a person, the skier, at the bottom. Both of them are connected by a rope that goes around a pulley. The skier has to excite the yak to move. Once this happens, the yak runs down the hill. This pulls the rope around the pulley lifting the skier in the air.

(7) Proboscis Monkey

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Yes, monkeys again—we still have another one coming up so hang on.

The proboscis monkey or the monkey with the long nose lives only in Asia, particularly within the forest of the Borneo Island and the coasts around it. They happen to be the best swimmers among all other monkey species. They use this privilege to look for food, relax, and even run away from predators. 

Appearance

What is quite remarkable about the proboscis monkeys is that males and females are notably different. First, in size, males have a maximum body length of 76.2 cm while females range between 53 to 62 cm. Males weigh 16 to 30 kg but females are a lot lighter. Their minimum weight is 7 kg and the maximum is 15 kg.

The third distinctive difference is the nose. Only males have long noses that can be 10 cm in length and usually hang lower than the mouth. On the other hand, females have a smaller nose that is turned upward. Both males and females have long tails that range in length between 66-75 cm in males and 52-62 cm in females.

The proboscis monkey’s entire body is covered with fur having multiple colours. For instance, the fur on the back is orange, reddish or yellowish-brown; however, on the underparts, it is rather light orange, light grey, or yellowish.

Both adult males and females have light orange, pinkish, or greyish faces as well as slightly big stomachs that are hanging down.

On the other hand, the proboscis monkey’s babies are born with blue faces that change colours until they settle on grey when they become adults.

Breeding and feeding

Both males and females can live up to 20 years in their open habitat. When they are five years old, they can start a family. A female is pregnant for 5.4 to 6.5 months and sometimes more than that. She gives birth to only one baby that has a blue face and grey fur.

The baby nurses for six weeks, then it stops and instead eats solid food when its seven months old. If the baby is a male, its nose is usually small at birth. It grows gradually and reaches its maximum size when the baby fully grows.

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Proboscis monkeys mainly eat fruits and leaves and sometimes insects, seeds, and flowers too. They usually live in coastal places and around rivers where they look for food. When they are done eating, they like to go back and rest on trees.

Society

While the Japanese macaques may have a quite complicated social structure in which males increase their rank and rise to power by aggressive fights, societies of the proboscis monkeys are a lot more simple and peaceful.

Proboscis monkeys live in groups that have one male as the leader and some females with their babies. Each group might consist of nine to 12 individuals. Sometimes, groups join to form a band. This usually happens when the monkeys travel or marry.

A band can have up to 60 monkeys. One male in one group may stay the leader for six, seven, or eight years. When another monkey replaces him, it usually happens with almost no serious fights.

Like others, the proboscis monkeys are in danger. Their numbers are decreasing because of the loss of their habitat. This is mainly attributed to humans cutting down trees and building oil plants around the areas where the monkeys live.

To help protect them from going extinct, the governments of the countries where the proboscis monkey are found are keeping large numbers of them in national parks to provide them with good, safe habitat and regular care against diseases. 

(8) Bengal Tiger

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Unlike its cousin, the cheetah which lives exclusively in Africa, tigers are native to Asia. Despite its name, the Bengal tiger lives in India, Bhutan, south Tibet, Bangladesh, and Nepal.

Tigers can also be found in Siberia and Indonesia. Yet, those might exhibit a few different characteristics. That is why they are referred to as Siberian and Sumatran tigers. Here, we are discussing the Bengal tigers living in southern Asia.

Appearance 

Speaking of appearance, tigers look very distinctive and highly attractive. Their bodies are covered with the very long orange hair that has dark brown/black stripes. Their bellies and the inner parts of their limbs are white. Furthermore, they also have orange tails with black rings. The tail is usually 85 cm to more than a metre long.

Excluding the tail, male tigers have an average body length of 185 to 200 cm. Females are only 155 cm long. On the other hand, both are around a metre or so tall, from ground to shoulders. Females are a lot lighter than males. They weigh 100 to 160 kg while males have a standard weight of 175 to 260 kg.

Interestingly, not just that Bengal tigers have the brightest hair colour among other big cats, but they also are the only ones with teeth as long as 7.5 to 10 cm. No other cat has teeth that long.

A male tiger is called, well, a tiger while a female is typically a tigress. Bengal tigers live up to 15 years in the wild and from 20 to 25 years when kept in captivity.

Breeding and feeding

Tigers can marry when males are four or five years old and when females are three to four years. The pregnancy period is 106 days at maximum. When she is ready to give birth, a mommy-to-be tigress finds a suitable place in caves, tall grass or bushy areas which are generally safe.

A tigress gives birth to one to four cubs at a time. Compared to their huge mother, cubs are very small at birth. They only weigh 0.7 to 1.6 kg. They nurse for six months at maximum and start to eat solid food when they are just two months old.

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Cubs follow their mother usually when she is hunting. When they are about two or three years old, they separate from their mother and move on with their lives.

Tigers’ societies are not as strong as those of monkeys. Since they are cats, after all, they are mostly independent and prefer to be on their own. Male tigers usually live and hunt alone while females are more likely to be seen with their cubs. The only occasion in which tigers may gather is when there is a lot of food in some area.

Tigers’ main food is meat so they prey on deers, pigs, antelopes, and water buffalos. 

White tigers

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It is true that tigers are known to be orange. However, due to some genetic mutation, two regular orangey tigers can produce white cubs. Here is how it happens.

Everything that makes creatures the way they are is printed in the DNA of their parents. DNA consists of blocks of genes. There are a tremendous number of genes in every creature.

Genes can be strong, called dominant, or weak, called recessive. Most of the time, dominant genes take over and decide what the baby is going to look like. So in tigers, the dominant gene for the hair colour is orange with dark brown/black stripes.

It happens that in some tigers, there is a recessive gene of white skin colour with brown stripes. When two Bengal tigers with these recessive genes mate, the weak genes unite and become dominant. So the baby tigers come out white with brown stripes instead of orange.

Skills

Besides their beautiful colours, whether orange or white, whether black or brown, tigers do possess some skills as well. Like all other big cats, they are able to run fast in order to catch prey. They run at a speed of 49 to 65 km per hour. Besides, tigers are perfect swimmers with a speed of four miles per hour. 

Bengal tigers are threatened mainly because of being killed by humans. Poaching takes place widely in India, China, and Nepal where organised groups of animal criminals look for and kill the tigers for their precious striped coats and body parts.

Meanwhile, the governments of those countries have tried and mostly failed to stop the illegal killing of tigers though they are trying to protect them by keeping them in captivity. 

Cousins or near-twins?

For starters, all cats, big or small, are cousins. They belong to the same Felidae family and they look somehow alike. That being said, three of them look near-twins: the Bengal tiger, white tiger, and the snow leopard from above!

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(9) Great Hornbill

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This is one of the most beautiful birds ever.

The great hornbill, which is also referred to as the Indian hornbill, is a large gorgeous bird that lives only in the forests of India and other parts of southeast Asia including Sumatra, Nepal, Bhutan, and Thailand. 

Appearance

As seen in the picture, the great hornbill is very distinctive for its bright colours. It has a yellow upper bill whose tip is pink. The bottom bill, however, is yellowish-white. The neck is yellow while the back, as well as the wings, are black with some features ending in white tips. The hornbill has what looks like a yellow helmet on top of its bill called a casque.

Given how attractive it looks, the great hornbill is called the king of the jungle in both India and Nepal.

Speaking of size, the great hornbill is quite large compared to other birds. It weighs four kg at maximum and has a body length of 95 to 130 cm. Wings alone from tip to tip measure a little more than 1.5 m. Flapping those long, strong wings produces a loud sound that can be heard from many kilometres away.

A male is called a cock and has red eyes while a female is a hen with blue eyes. Both have eyelashes which are not very common among birds. Great hornbills live on average for 30 to 40 years and 50 years at maximum. 

Breeding and feeding

Great hornbills would usually marry and have eggs when they are around 10 years old. This happens from January to April. Prior to that, the female chooses a strong hollow tree in the forest and builds a nest in it before laying one or two eggs at maximum there.

Unlike the painted stork couples who both take part in sitting on eggs, the female great hornbill is the only one to do that. Meanwhile, the male goes out looking for food for his wife. The incubation period lasts for around 40 days. Then eggs hatch, bringing out chicks that have no features and nor casques. Casques start to grow when the chicks are six months old and become fully grown in five years.

Great hornbills like to eat in small groups, usually other couples and their chicks. They mainly eat fruits from which they get all the water. In addition, they like to eat woody trees, other smaller birds, lizards as well as Timon and Pumpa’s favourite food: insects.

Though they can fly at a speed of 29 km/h, great hornbills do not migrate to other places. They only fly around within the area they live in.

Like all the eight animals we discussed so far, great hornbills are threatened by humans who cut the trees in the areas where they live.

Before we move on..

Scientists consider animals to be intelligent if they possess skills close to those used by humans. One of such skills is using tools to perform certain tasks. Such a thing requires a developed brain activity to recognise the tool, work out what it can be used for, and connect these two thoughts together to do the task and repeat it.

In zoology, scientists refer to monkeys as primate species. They are usually highly developed and very intelligent. We have seen that one monkey species, the Japanese macaques, have a very complicated social structure in which members have ranks.

Now we are going to look into another species referred to as primate as well. They are not monkeys. They are apes. And they live only in Asia too. Before we go on, let’s clarify the difference between monkeys and apes.

Though they might look alike, there are clear differences between apes and monkeys, two of which can be identified by sight. First of all, the tail. Most monkeys have tails while apes do not. Besides, apes are larger in size and they do live longer.

The oldest ape that ever lived on Earth was a chimpanzee called Little Mama in a safari park in the USA. She was around 80 years old when she died in November 2017. 

On the other hand, apes are more intelligent than monkeys and they have bigger brains too. Apes use more developed forms of communication and some, when well trained, can use human sign language!

All right, that should make it easier to decide whether what you see is an ape or a monkey. So far, we have studied two monkeys. Now, we are looking into an ape that lives in Asia only. It is as huge as it is orange. Here I give you, the orangutan!

(10) Orangutans

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Orangutans are apes that now live in the rainforests of the Borneo and Sumatra islands in Asia. However, in the past, they used to be found in those all around Indonesia and Malaysia.

Though one might link their name to their hair colour, the word orang-utan does not really mean orange. Instead, it means the forest person in the Malay language spoken in Indonesia.

Now, there are three different species of orangutans: Sumatran, Bornean, and Tapanuli. They might have some tiny differences in their body build and hair colour.

Appearance 

Orangutans are black-skinned and big in size. They have long arms but short legs, orange/reddish-brown, long hair covering their entire bodies. Like the proboscis monkeys, male and female orangutans do possess so many different characteristics.

Males (like in the picture above) have large rounded cheek pads which scientists call flanges. On the other hand, females (see picture below) rather have narrow faces. Males also look to have quite long beards while females probably do not.

Speaking of size, males and females are quite different too. Males are way bigger with a maximum weight of 75 kg while females weigh around half of that, 37 kg. Males are 137 cm tall and females are 115 cm. Both, however, have quite small ears as well as noses. When they walk, they use all four limbs like gorillas.

Both males and females have a life span of around 30 years.

Some males are slow in growing their flanges. Interestingly, the larger the flange is, the more dominant the male is. It gives them higher ranks than those of orangutans that have smaller to no flanges at all.

Flanged orangutans are respected and even feared by other less dominant apes. In addition, the existence of a flange highly contributes to the love life of the male orangutan. That is because such a distinctive physical feature attracts females during the time of marriage.

Breeding and feeding

Orangutans are able to get married typically when males are 15 years old and when females are 14 years old. A male may stay for a period of up to a few months with his partner but he usually walks away before she gives birth.

A female stays pregnant for nine months then gives birth to one infant and in rare events, twins. A mom orangutan takes care of her baby. She carries it around, feeds it, grooms it, and plays with it. This is the only social connection orangutans have.

When the baby grows to be one and a half years old, it would start moving around, climbing trees and swinging through them on its own. It also forms friendships with other little orangutans and they even hold hands while moving around.

Slowly, little orangutans move away from their mothers and socialise with their peers. If they are females, they would stay close. But if they are males, they prefer to go far away. Still, both females and males keep some kind of contact with their moms. 

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Orangutans live in the forests near the rivers and rarely in dry areas. Like tigers, they like to live on their own. They use tree branches to build themselves nests to rest in. Thanks to their strong, long arms, orangutans can hang underneath branches and leap from one tree to another holding branches for support.

To stay away from predators such as tigers and leopards that may wander around on the ground, orangutans tend to spend more of their time on trees. Although those big cats can already climb trees, they will not be able to surpass the orangutans’ incredible ability to swing through trees to run away. 

Speaking of food, orangutans like to eat fruits, tree bark, leaves, vegetables, as well as eggs of other birds and honey.

All three species of orangutans are highly endangered. In other words, they are seriously facing the danger of going extinct; of disappearing from Earth’s surface. Their numbers have dramatically declined due to, you know it, human activity. Poaching, cutting down trees, and the illegal pet trade have put the orangutans under such threats.

Nowadays, the remaining numbers are protected by law in both Indonesia and Malaysia. International laws have also been issued to prohibit the illegal capture and trade of orangutans. In addition, multiple organisations are offering great help to take care of the apes against diseases and mistreatment. 

Conclusion

There are so many different ways to classify the millions and millions of species and subspecies found on Earth. This makes it a little easy for scientists and biologists to closely study them and understand how they live, interact, reproduce, and make our planet such a fantastic place.

Those species are scattered around every inch of the Earth. They live in different places called habitats. Each habitat makes life possible for the species by providing suitable weather conditions, abundant food and water sources as well as protection against dangers. Some species can be found everywhere like seagulls, others are native to specific places like hippos in Africa.

In this article, we looked into 10 amazing animals that are native to Asia, particularly in India, Nepal, Bhutan, China, Myanmar, the Himalayas, Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia. 

We studied two monkey species, the Japanese macaque and the proboscis monkey, two big cats, the Bengal tiger and the snow leopard, and two beautifully-coloured large birds, the painted stork and the great hornbill. In addition, we discussed the yak, red panda, Asian elephant, and one ape, the orangutan.

We learned that Japanese macaques have a complicated social structure and that male and female proboscis monkeys possess different physical characteristics. Asian elephants stay in female-led herds and babies are born after almost two years of pregnancy. Bengal tiger couples do not usually stay together after baby birth and it is the new mom who takes care of the cubs until they grow up.

An easy way to tell the difference between monkeys and apes is by considering their size and the existence of a tail. Orangutans are characterized by their very long orange/brown hair and wide arm span. They are highly intelligent and can sophisticatedly use tools to perform certain tasks.

Snow leopards are predators that inhabit the snowy Himalayas mountains and the domesticated yak is an important part of the local culture being a great source of both food and entertainment.

Besides living only in Asia, another thing that all those ten animals have in common is being either threatened or critically endangered by human activity.

Unfortunately, humans have been known for destroying animal habitats to build roads and cities, extract oil, establish dams on rivers which lessen the water supply, or illegally killing animals for their meat, fur, ivory, or even blood!

To help protect the remaining animals from going extinct, both national and international efforts are exerted to build national parks and reserves to help animals live safely and provide them with the necessary care.

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