Do you love spending time outdoors? Hiking is one of the best activities you can do to enjoy the natural scenery in Southeast Asia. But while this is an exciting activity for people of all ages (even families with kids), there are also many inherent dangers to exploring the wild side. In particular, you must be aware of potentially dangerous wildlife encounters during your hike. You must be aware of their presence in order to prepare for them and ensure your safety.
Most Dangerous Wildlife Encounters in Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia is emerging to be the top region for avid hikers to visit, especially those looking for hiking destinations that are untouched. You will be spoiled for options by this region that offers unparalleled beauty as far as what type of wildlife you are bound to see. But aside from the natural scenery and landscape such as mountains, valleys, waterfalls, and streams, there is another natural feature that you are likely to encounter during your hike – dangerous wildlife.
The wildlife in Southeast Asia range from interesting to exotic to dangerous. While most of them are fascinating, a lot of them are dangerous. Do not let your curiosity get the better of you. They are part of the adventure that comes with hiking but you have to understand that most of these are not used to encountering humans, plus you are in their natural habitat. You have to respect them and know how to act accordingly.
Learn more about the most dangerous wildlife encounters you could potentially have when you hike in Southeast Asia. The more you know about these wildlife creatures, the more you know about their tendencies and how to handle them out in the wild.
1. Dragons of Komodo
The dragons of Komodo are very well known in Indonesia, particularly when you visit the Komodo National Park. But the largest lizard in the world could potentially be one of the most dangerous wildlife encounters you could have in Southeast Asia. The prehistoric creatures can grow to as much as 10 feet in length with a weight of up to 350 lbs.
What makes the Komodo dragons dangerous is the fact that their saliva is filled with poisonous bacteria and that they are venomous, as well. They are able to kill their prey with only one bite. These lizards are named after the island in Indonesia wherein they are commonly found.
They can also be seen on the islands of Gili Motang, Padar, Flores, and Rinca. There are plenty of hiking trails in these islands, and in Komodo, so be extra careful and be on the lookout for the Komodo dragons.
King Cobra (Image by World Atlas)
2. King Cobra
The King Cobra is one of the most venomous animals in the world! In fact, single venom of this snake is enough to kill one and a half dozen people – that is how potent it is! It goes without saying that you need to be extremely wary of an encounter with a King Cobra when you are hiking in Southeast Asia, particularly in Thailand wherein they are mostly seen.
The King Cobra is a long snake (the longest venomous snake in the world) that can measure up to 13 feet long. Their color can either be black, tan, or olive green but yellow bands on the surface. They have a bulky head with an expandable jaw. Their fangs are short and fixed at the front, which is what they use to inject venom onto their prey.
It is one of the snake species that feed on other snakes. But aside from snakes, they also feed on rats, lizards, birds, and other types of rodents. King cobras are mostly seen during the day and they have extreme sensitivity to ground vibrations. It has the ability to swallow its prey in whole, even ones that are much larger than the cobra in size.
King Cobras are mostly seen in the dense forests of Thailand, but there are also some in the jungles of the Philippines, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Myanmar. When you go on day hikes, be particularly attentive to your trail and it is best to know if certain trails are known for King Cobra encounters.
Image by hongkongsnakeid.com
3. Other Dangerous Snakes
The King Cobra is not the only dangerous snake found in the jungles of Southeast Asia. There are a number of snakes that are equally dangerous. In Thailand alone, there are a wide variety of dangerous snakes that you are likely to encounter.
A spitting cobra is one of many types of dangerous snakes that lurk in the forests of Southeast Asia. They are capable of spitting venom into the prey’s eyes for up to three meters. Another common type of dangerous snake found in Southeast Asia is pythons. As the largest snake species, you should be very careful of these types of snakes, too. Although they are not venomous, pythons can swallow its prey alive (even a full-grown adult).
When hiking in Southeast Asia, always be prepared to encounter a snake. Venomous or not, they can pose serious danger!
Tigers are among the most feared animals in the world. When you hike in Southeast Asia, you are also likely to encounter them in select nations, such as Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Laos.
Today, though, there is little chance of encountering them in the wild as most of them had been kept in zoos and other sanctuaries. But there are still a few regions wherein they are able to roam freely. This is one of the endangered species of wildlife in Asia, so if you get the chance to spot them in the wild, you need to stay away from them and not do anything to disturb them in their natural habitat.
Scorpions (Image by Reptile Centre)
Scorpions, like mosquitoes and other insects, are small but they are one of the most venomous creatures in the world. If you are hiking in Southeast Asia, you need to be extremely cautious of encountering them because scorpions are quite common, especially in Thailand. Black Scorpion is the most common variety and they can also deliver a fatal sting.
Anyone who is stung by a scorpion would need immediate hospital treatment. Otherwise, it could be deadly. Make sure to learn about where they are mostly found in Thailand and choose your trails wisely. It is best to avoid them, especially when you are dealing with such venomous creatures.
While this is more of an insect than an actual wildlife, it is important to be aware of the dangers of mosquitoes when hiking in Southeast Asia. They might be small in size but do not let this fool you in terms of the real danger that they pose. In fact, the number of deaths from mosquito bites is more than any other natural disasters. Every year, an estimated 1 million people die from mosquito bites, particularly the carriers of malaria and dengue fever.
Mosquitoes are found in all of the Southeast Asian countries. Therefore, you need to protect yourself against mosquito bites at all times. The threat of mosquitoes is something that you should not take lightly, especially when you hike with small children. Always wear mosquito repellent to avoid being bitten by them. It is also a good idea to wear protective clothing such as leggings or long sleeved tops when you hike to limit the skin exposure.
Safety Tips Against Wildlife During a Hike
Now that you know what dangerous wildlife there are present in Southeast Asia that you could potentially encounter during your hike, it is important to know how to protect against them. These are the essential safety tips that you need to keep in mind during your hike so you can avoid being attacked by these wildlife creatures.
- Always be vigilant. When you go hiking, you must be aware that you are entering the territory of the wildlife creatures. It is their home and you are invading their natural habitat. It is your responsibility to be on the lookout for them so you can protect yourself from any danger. When you bring your kids for the hike, make sure to set rules about how far off they can wander. It is also important to look out for any signs (as most developed trails will provide warning signs if certain areas are known to be where wildlife might lurk around).
- Be observant. This is another helpful tip that you can use to support the tip above. In this case, though, you need to maintain keen eyes to look for animal tracks. Look for fresh tracks or recent digs. These are tell-tale signs that there are wildlife creatures nearby.
- Make a noise. While this is an unorthodox tip, this is actually recommended by hiking experts to be safe against surprise attacks from predators. When you make a noise, you let the animals know that you are around. When they are aware of your presence, they are less likely to be startled and attack you (or anyone from your group).
- Do not carry items with a strong odor. Wildlife creatures possess very sensitive sense of smell. Make sure that you always pack your food well so it won’t emit strong odors that could attract the animals in the wild. For this reason, it is recommended that you pack dry foods because they have a fainter smell than fresh food items.
- Stay within your trail. While it is natural to want to explore beyond the trail, it is best to stick to the trail, unless you are accompanied by an experienced and local tour guide who knows the area well. If not, your best bet is to stick to the trail so you won’t have any surprise wildlife encounters that could put you in danger.
- If possible, do not hike alone. Hiking with a buddy or as part of a group is always safer. In the event you have a wildlife encounter, or you suffer from any injury, someone will be able to help you out or call for help.
- Stay within your group. Aside from sticking to your trail, it is important that you stay close to your group and avoid walking too far back. It is important that you should assign someone in the group to check on everyone and make sure no one is left behind.
- Leave dead animals alone and report it to the nearest ranger station. The sight of a dead animal is potentially dangerous (especially a fresh one) because another wildlife creature could be in attack mode. You would not want to be in that creature’s path. There is also the risk that the predator could come back as they might guard their food. So, if possible, steer clear of any carcass left behind.
- Do not feed the animals. This is one of the major no-no’s when you encounter wildlife during a hike. The worst thing that you want to do is to work up their appetite.
- Always carry a first aid kit. This is an important reminder when hiking because you’ll never know when you might need it. A first aid kit could mean the difference between a life or death situation.
Hiking is fun and exciting. But it is no reason to let your guard down – after all, the wild outdoors is the natural habitat of dangerous wildlife in Southeast Asia. When you are traveling as a family and with your kids, you need to take extra precaution because you would not want to risk your family’s safety. As such, it is important to research the type of trail you want to pursue with your kids and always ask if these trails are known to have wildlife encounters. Your goal is to make your hiking trip enjoyable and you won’t be able to achieve that when you put your life in danger.
What else can be done to prepare against wildlife? What other safety precautions do you take as far as dealing with wildlife during a hike is concerned?