20 Asian Animals To See Before You Die

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Asia’s animals are as diversely rich as the continent itself. There are some amazing Asian animals and the places you can see them are well worth visiting too. From the iconic giant panda to the lesser-known Eastern black-crested gibbon, there are many Asian animals to discover. This list comprises 20 Asian animals and where to see them. So whether you are travelling around Asia or want to travel somewhere for wildlife viewing, this list has you covered.

From the harsh terrain of the Gobi Desert to the diversely rich jungles of Borneo, there are tons of landscapes and animal encounters to experience in Asia. You can find many of these fantastic Asian animals in Borneo, one of the planet’s most biodiverse ecosystems. Travel to remote islands to see the Komodo dragon or head deep into the Indian countryside to find the Bengal tiger or the caracal. A whole continent of incredible wildlife awaits you.

Asian Animals

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20 Animals In Asia

1- Giant Panda

asian animals giant panda
One of the most iconic Asian animals to tick off your to-see list is the Giant Panda. It’s fascinating to watch them eat bamboo.

It seems only fitting to kick off this list of 20 Asian animals with the giant panda.

This loveably cute, fluffy animal is an iconic symbol of China and the best place to see them is in Chengdu.

Most people travelling to Chengdu won’t miss the opportunity to see the giant panda.

In 2016 pandas were moved from “endangered” to “vulnerable” because of breeding efforts.

It is estimated that there are around 1800 pandas in the wild today, but they are almost impossible to see.

Therefore, one of the most popular places to see these incredible creatures is The Giant Panda Research & Breeding Center in Chengdu, which is an extremely popular attraction. So, if you’re keen on going there, make sure you book your entry ticket well in advance.

This breeding centre has been in operation since 1987 and has been pivotal in the species’ conservation efforts.

The centre has been created to imitate the natural habitat of pandas.

You can walk around this large centre and take pictures of these beautiful creatures while watching them play, eat, sleep and eat.

There is also the unique opportunity to hold a panda.

Before you get too excited, be warned this experience is expensive.

You can hold an eight to ten-month cub for around CNY2000 (US$275) for two minutes.

Yes, you read correctly. Be sure to check whether they offer this experience before you go.

If there have been any local diseases or outbreaks in the centre, contact with humans is forbidden.

If you’re interested in getting up close to the pandas, here’s an exciting full-day volunteer experience in Sichuan where you can learn a lot about one of the most endangered species on earth while having fun. Find out more here.

2- Indian (Bengal) Tiger

asian animals bengal tiger
A regal Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris bengalensis) in its natural habitat in India. If there’s one Asian animal you must see, it’s the tiger.

The Bengal tiger, or Indian tiger, is a truly magnificent creature and a cultural icon.

It’s the national animal of India and Bangladesh.

The Bengal tiger’s stripes are unique to each tiger, almost like human fingerprints.

With the population of Bengal Tigers continually being threatened because of poaching and habitat destruction, you” want to see these beautiful animals while there’s still the chance.

If you travel to India, the three best places to see the Bengal tiger are Bandhavgarh National Park, Kanha National Park and Pench National Park.

Bandhavgarh is one of the most popular parks in India as within just 453 sq km there is a high density of tigers.

You will have a good chance of seeing this beautiful tiger at this park, with around 60 to 70 tigers living in the park.

Head to Kanha National Park (in Madhya Pradesh), where there are around 125 tigers and you can take a safari in this park deep into the forest.

Pench National Park is another good place to see tigers in Madhya Pradesh. This park inspired Rudyard Kipling’s children’s book “The Jungle Book”.

One of the most popular places to go on a tiger safari is Ranthambore National Park because of its proximity to Jaipur and the Golden Triangle.

There are around 60 tigers in this 758sq km park. Here’s how many tigers are left in the wild.

3- Komodo Dragons

south east asian animals
A Komodo Dragon walking in the wild on Komodo Island. This is one of the south-east Asian animals to tick off your bucket list.

The Komodo dragon and Indonesia are almost synonymous.

As the name may suggest, one of the best places to see Komodo dragons is the Komodo National Park.

This national park is within the Lesser Sunda Islands of Indonesia and has three large islands: Komodo, Rinca and Padar.

To see these unusual animals, take a day trip to the island from Flores on the mainland. Or charter a boat and spend the day hopping around the islands.

Komodo dragons are not dragons but giant lizards, the largest in the world.

They can grow up to three meters in length and weigh up to 135kg.

They are venomous and have a scary hunting strike, much like a snake.

To see these huge lizards, you must go to Indonesia as they aren’t found anywhere else on earth except the Komodo National Park archipelago and Flores.

The Komodo dragon is classified as vulnerable though there are calls for them to be put back on the endangered list to give them more protection.

They are considered vulnerable because their habitat, over many decades, has been destroyed due to development and natural disasters. From Bali, join a two-day Komodo Island adventure to see these incredible creatures.

4- Blood Python

asian animals sumatran red blood python isolated on white background.
The Sumatran Red Blood Python (Python curtis curtis) is one of the scary Asian animals to come face to face with.

Depending on your opinion of snakes, you may or may not want to look for this Asian animal.

The blood python is a medium-large snake that is not venomous despite its sinister name.

These snakes are around 140cm and 13kg.

They are mostly found in forested areas, marshes, and tropical swamps.

You can find these snakes in Thailand, Malaysia’s Peninsula and the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

5- Binturong

asian animals binturong
Binturong, or Filipino bearcat, is an interesting Asian animal to watch walking along tree branches in Palawan, Philippines.

Perhaps you’ve never heard of Binturong? This animal also goes by the name bearcat.

That’s because it looks like a weird cross between a bear and a cat, with a slightly mouse-like look to it as well.

The Binturong is native to Asia and can be found across various Southeast Asian destinations, including Palawan in the Philippines and Thailand.

You will have a chance to see Binturong at Khao Sok National Park in southern Thailand.

Look for them up tall trees in the evergreen rainforest, lowland forest and grassland forest.

As they sleep high in the trees, you will have to look hard to be in with a chance of seeing one.

6- Green Peafowl

asian animals peafowl peacock
A peafowl walks across the green grass.

Also known as the Indonesian peafowl, green peafowl are native to southeast Asia’s tropical forests.

This beautiful and regal peacock is common in India, Thailand, Myanmar, and Java in Indonesia.

If you are travelling to Indonesia, then head to East Java.

This bird is endemic to Java, and you’ll have a chance to see them at the Baluran National Park.

7- Borneo Elephant

asian animals borneo elephant
The Borneo elephant is also called the Borneo pygmy elephant. Pictured here at Lok Kawi wildlife park.

A sub-species of the Asian Elephant, the Borneo pygmy elephant, is an animal for your Borneo wildlife bucket list.

This elephant is around 25% smaller than the Asian elephant.

They may be called “pygmy”, but they still weigh between 2000-2500kg.

The Borneo elephant is found only in northeast Borneo in Sabah and Kinabatangan.

There are around 2,040 pygmy elephants left in the wild, with 95% being found in the Malaysian state of Sabah.

Interestingly, the smallest elephant in the world is also the largest mammal in Borneo.

The Kinabatangan River, the Tabin Wildlife Reserve, the Deramakot Forest Reserve, and the Danum Valley are some of the best places to see these elephants.

From the town of Sandakan, you can access the Kinabatangan River, home to elephants and orangutans.

8- Japanese Macaque

south asian animals
Japanese macaques groom each other, displaying typical social primate behaviour.

The Japanese macaque (snow monkey) is native to Japan.

These adorable monkeys live on three of Japan’s main islands: Honshu, Kyushu, and Shikoku, as well as on the mainland.

When visualising the Japanese macaque monkeys, you may well picture snowy-haired monkeys bathing in hot springs. And most visitors will book a tour to see the snow monkeys in Nagano.

Well, this iconic Japanese monkey scene is in the Jigokudani Monkey Park in Yamanouchi, where there is one man-made pool where the monkeys gather for their daily spa treatment.

9- Green Turtle

asian animals green sea turtle
Green Sea Turtles (Chelonia mydas) are found in various places, including the Bunaken National Marine Park coral reefs, North Sulawesi, Indonesia.

On the Gili Islands of Indonesia, you will not find a better place to see the beautifully elegant (and slightly sleepy-looking) green turtle.

The Gili islands have some of the best beaches in Indonesia and are made up of Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air. And a snorkelling trip to the islands is a fantastic way to see marinelife.

If you head to the honeymoon island of Gili Meno and dive into the water, you will soon see sea turtles bobbing along, all chilled and relaxed.

While wildlife sightings aren’t guaranteed, this is one of the best places to see turtles, as it’s not uncommon around Gili to spot around 20 turtles per dive.

Green turtles are larger than the Hawksbill turtle and can grow up to 1.5 m in length.

They come up to the surface to breathe every few minutes, but they can go underwater for around two hours without breathing.

Seeing them lift their heads above the water is an amazing sight.

10- Asian Black Bear

southeast asian animals
An Asiatic Black Bear (also known as the Tibetan black bear, Himalayan black bear or moon bear) is an amazing Asian animal.

The Asian black bear is often cutely nicknamed the moon bear.

This type of bear can be found across Asia in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Thailand and China.

Due to the impacts of deforestation, the black bear is classified as ‘vulnerable’ by the IUCN.

If you are visiting some of the national parks in Thailand, you may be able to see these black bears.

Khao Yai National Park, Mu Ko Chang National Park and Nam Nao National Park are just some places you can try to go bear spotting.

It’s also good to organise a guide to take you around these parks if you want to see black bears, as they have expert knowledge and tracking skills.

11- Sumatran Orangutan

asian animals sumatran orangutan
A female Sumatran orangutan and cub in the Gunung Leuser National Park, Indonesia.

You can’t have a list of the 20 best Asian animals without mentioning the beautifully cute Sumatran orangutan.

There are fewer Sumatran orangutans than the Bornean orangutan. And if you really want to get close, try volunteering at an orangutan sanctuary.

The Sumatran orangutan enjoys the ‘critically endangered’ status on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.

It is believed that their current population is around 13,800.

Head to the Gunung Leuser National Park in northern Sumatra, Indonesia.

You will be in for a good chance to see these amazing orangutans alongside leaf monkeys, gibbons and macaques high in the trees.

To enter this park, you have to be accompanied by a licensed guide.

Entering the park costs around 150,000 Indonesia Rupiah (US$9.60) and there are several day and overnight tours on offer for you to see these beautifully orange animals.

12- Asiatic Lion

asian animals asiatic lion
Asiatic lions are regal creatures.

There is only one place in Asia where you can see the Asiatic Lion and that’s the Sasan Gir National Park, one of the many impressive national parks in India.

These lions may look like they belong in southern Africa, but they differ in a few ways from their African cousins.

The Asiatic lion is slightly shaggier and smaller than the African lion.

The Asiatic lion is considered endangered; however, its population is slowly increasing.

As of 2015, their population was around 523.

Several tour companies offer safari experiences around the Sasan Gir National Park.

Book a safari to search for India’s tigers and other animals like the golden jackal, Indian flying fox, and the Indian pangolin.

13- Crab-Eating Macaque

asian animals list
A Crab-eating Macaque sitting on a branch. The macaque has brown hair on its body and a tail as long as its body.

Another interesting Asian animal is the crab-eating macaque.

This type of macaque is considered to be an invasive species and threatens biodiversity in several places, including Hong Kong.

It got its name because it can often be seen on beaches foraging for crabs.

If you are hiking through Hong Kong’s beautiful mountainous scenery, you will likely spot the crab-eating macaque.

If you decide to hike up Lion Rock in the Sha Tin district of Hong Kong, you’ll encounter a few of these monkeys.

14- Clouded Leopard

asian animals clouded leopard
Clouded leopards are found in the Himalayas.

The clouded leopard is a stunning and highly anticipated Asian animal for wildlife enthusiasts to look for.

Fewer than 10,000 of these leopards are in the wild, and their population is falling.

They typically live in the rainforests of Southeast Asia.

It’s named because of its cloud-like spots, and they are considered a separate genus of cat, not just a variety of leopard.

They have a stockier build than a regular leopard found in Africa, and the males can be twice the size of females.

The best place to see the clouded leopard is Borneo.

Going on a conservation trip is an excellent idea as the impact of your trip won’t be damaging to this vulnerable species, and ecologists can learn from any possible sightings.

Borneo has a few places to see the clouded leopard, such as Deramakot Forest Reserve, Tabin Wildlife Reserve and the Kinabatangan River.

15- Bactrian Camel

asian animals bactrian camel
A Bactrian camel in the steppes of Mongolia. These quirky-looking Asian animals are the main transport of the nomadic tribes.

The Bactrian camel or the Mongolian camel lives in the Gobi Desert, which stretches across Northwest China and Mongolia.

This type of camel is a dominant feature of this arid and rocky landscape.

These 800kg herbivores have two humps and are more than 7 feet tall.

Their humps work the same way as their Arabian counterparts, storing fat that can be converted to water.

Visiting the Gobi Dessert is a fascinating experience in itself, and then you can top it off by seeing this two-humped Asian animal.

Visiting Mongolia’s Gobi Desert is an excellent way to see this otherworldly landscape.

16- Caracal

asian animals caracal Close up portrait of one cute baby caracal kitten resting on the ground and looking at camera.
Another cute animal in Asia is the caracal.

The caracal is a strangely beautiful medium-sized cat native to Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia.

The Asian caracal weighs around 25kg and is characterised by its long ears with tufty hair.

Caracals can be found in India in three of the country’s protected areas: Ranthambore National Park, Kailadevi Wildlife Sanctuary in Rajasthan and Narayan Sarovar Wildlife Sanctuary in Kachchh.

17- Draco Lizard

endangered asian animals
A Spotted Flying Dragon on a tree in south Thailand.

The Draco lizard, or the gliding lizard as it’s otherwise known, can fly.

They have a membrane that extends outwards to create wings allowing them to glide through the air.

This interesting creature can grow up to around 8 inches (including the long tail).

To see this flying lizard, go to the Philippines or Borneo.

In the Philippines, these lizards are primarily found in the rainforest; however, they can be found in places like Malinao, sometimes in people’s backyards.

18- Indian Rhino

asian animals indian rhinoceros
One of the most impressive Asian animals to see is the Indian rhinoceros or Rhinoceros unicornis (also called the greater one-horned rhinoceros), pictured with cub in a swamp.

Rhinos aren’t just found in Africa, you know! The Indian rhino is another amazing Asian animal.

The Indian rhino weighs between 1,800kg and 2,700kg and is around two metres tall.

Like other Asian animal species, the occupying area of the Indian rhino has depleted significantly.

Today, around 11 reserves across India and Nepal are home to rhinos.

In Assam in northeastern India, Kaziranga National Park is the place to see rhinos as this park has the world’s largest population of Indian rhinos, at around 2,400.

19- Eastern Black-Crested Gibbon

list of asian animals
Another type of gibbon is the Northern White-Cheeked Gibbon, pictured sitting on the lawn to escape the sunlight. These Asian animals are found in Laos, Vietnam and the Yunnan Province of China.

The Eastern black-crested gibbon is not an animal you will ever see, but it’s fascinating, so it needed to be included on this list of Asian animals.

Unfortunately, the Eastern black-crested gibbon is considered to be critically endangered by the IUCN.

This gibbon has distinctive black fur on the crown of its head.

Over 45 years, this gibbon has seen a shocking 80% decline in population.

It’s now classified as the second-most endangered primate in the world.

Before 2002 this animal was believed to be extinct until a small population was found in northeastern Vietnam on the border with China.

In 2005 there were only believed to be around 35 to 37 of these gibbons living in Vietnam.

Owing to conservation efforts, there are now believed to be around 250 adults remaining.

20- Red Panda

asian animals red panda Close up portrait of one cute red panda on green tree, looking at camera, low angle view.
One of the cutest Asian animals is the red panda.

Did you know that the red and giant pandas are not related?

They belong to two different taxonomically unique families and the only thing they share is that people think they are both super cute.

The red panda is bigger than a domestic cat with thick reddish brown fur.

They predominantly live in trees and live on a diet of 98% bamboo.

The red panda lives in the Eastern Himalayas across China, Nepal and Bhutan.

The Jigme Khesar Strict Nature Reserve is home to some red pandas, though you have to be lucky to spot one.

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harriet comley
Harriet Comley is a travel enthusiast, freelance travel writer and a lover of safaris. Since 2017 she has been travelling the globe living in the UK, Canada, Vietnam, China and now Zambia, where she is completing her PhD in Sustainable Tourism. For 3 1/2 years she taught English in Vietnam and China. Now she has turned her attention to writing, having contributed to a number of travel blogs and websites always focusing on what she loves most…exploring!