For an island as large and centrally located (at least as a part of an archipelago in the Pacific Ocean) as Borneo, it has some unique stuff going on with its wildlife. It’s the only place in the world where tigers, orangutans, rhinos, and elephants live at the same time. Beyond that, there are quite a few animals you can’t find anywhere else. Here are four of our favorites.
A proboscis should be a physical feature limited to flying insects, not fellow primates. Yet here’s the proboscis monkey, defying all animal kingdom stereotypes. To be fair to the monkey, when people called it a proboscis, they didn’t mean the monkey had a fleshy needle it would shoot into the skins of the things it wanted to eat, just that it had a longer nose than normal. In fact, it might be helpful to think of this label as a mean nickname given by middle school bullies. Just be glad those same bullies weren’t focusing on the monkey’s pot belly. Then we might be talking about the “beer gut monkey.”
Borneo Bay Cat
The only really concrete information anyone has on the Borneo Bay Cat is that it exists. You can eke out a good physical description, mostly because people have set up motion-sensing cameras and been lucky enough to snap a picture. They also know it’s about the size of a large house cat. But in terms of diet, reproduction, preferred habitat, family life, and lifespan, all scientists can do is take a few educated guesses. They don’t even know if the animal is nocturnal or diurnal because those cameras have gotten pictures of them at all times of the day and night. This complete dearth of information comes from the cat’s ability to blend into its environment and evade observation in the wild. It’s a tantalizing prospect for scientists. They know it exists and they know it’s a unique animal, but details sit just out of reach, often literally.
Bornean Pygmy Elephant
It’s fundamentally weird to be talking about a miniature version of the largest land mammal in the world. Mini horses and pigs we get—that somehow seems natural—but a miniature elephant shouldn’t be possible. Not that any of our etymological protests are going to stop the Borneo Pygmy Elephant from existing. And they really do look like Asian elephants hit with a shrink ray. The proportions are approximately the same, with the only possible exception being the tail, which can occasionally grow long enough to drag on the ground as they walk. Other than that, you have what looks like a mad scientist’s experiments wandering the Bornean jungle.
The Bornean Bristlehead is a bird that looks pasted together from the features of other birds. It has the body of a blackbird, the head and neck of something colorful and tropical, and the beak of a falcon-eagle hybrid. It fits the list though, because it’s unique, interesting, and fun to look at. It mostly lives in newer, denser parts of the jungle, and high up at that, so capturing images has been relatively difficult. For that reason, the first decent pictures of the bird didn’t come around until about 2000. People have gotten better pictures since then, and more is known about it than about the Bay Cat, but there are still some mysteries to be solved about this colorful bird.