The national animal is a symbol used by countries to represent a unifying image of the nation in front of the world. The choice of national animals is usually very carefully made (as in decided and stated in the country's constitution) and is based on one or more aspects associated with the country like its ecology, tradition, culture, mythology and many more.
National animals are unique to their nation, especially in the case of Southeast Asia as the region is so diverse when it comes to people and ecology.
These animals, as a result, allow people from the outside to gauge the country’s natural wealth, culture and other noteworthy characteristics. Thus, the national animals are a great source of pride and inspiration to the people of the nation.
But, do you know what are the national animals of your own region? Representing each country, these are the national animals in Southeast Asia:
National Animal: Elephant (the Elephas maximus species)
The elephant found in Thailand is the Indian elephant, a subspecies of the Asian elephant. In the early-1900s there were an estimated 100,000 domesticated or captive elephants in Thailand. In mid-2007 there were an estimated 3,456 domesticated elephants left in Thailand and roughly a thousand wild elephants. It became an endangered species in 1986.
The elephant has been a contributor to Thai society and its icon for many centuries. The elephant has had a considerable impact on Thai culture.
National animal: The Indochinese Tiger (Panthera tigris corbetti)
Tigers are now protected in Myanmar and well deserved the title for its unique characteristics. The image of Tiger is also using as a national symbol of Myanmar.
The Hukaung Valley Tiger Reserve in Myanmar is the world’s largest tiger sanctuary.
National animal #1: The Carabao (Bubalus bubalis)
National animal #2: Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi)
The country's national bird, the Philippine eagle, has been called different names, but it was only in 1995 when it was considered as a national symbol.
Prior to 1995, the country's national bird is the Maya, a popular brown and white bird commonly seen all over the country.
Through Proclamation No. 615, signed by then President Fidel V. Ramos, the Philippine eagle became the national bird, a "natural treasure found only in the Philippines," and thus, should become a source of national pride.
Aside from being endemic to the Philippines, the Philippine eagle is considered as the flagship species in the conservation of Philippine wildlife.
The proclamation also states that the characteristics of the Philippine eagle - whose uniqueness, strength, power, and love for freedom - exemplifies the Filipino people.
National animal: MalayanTiger (Panthera tigris jacksoni)
National animal: Lion
The lion has come to represent Singapore, as the country’s national symbol. Historian John Drysdale (1984) has called the animal ‘a collection entirely consonant with the aspirations of Singapore’s new and energetic government.
National animal: Indian Elephant
Elephant is considered as national animal in Laos for a very long time. For years, it has been the symbol of prosperity and represents the strength of nation. In Laos, people pay their respect for this special animal through festivals and ceremonies.
The fact that elephant is Laotian national animal originates from Buddhism, the major religion here. The elephant is Indian Elephant whose hometown is the same as Buddhist hometown. In Buddhist perspective, color elephant represents for luck, peace and wealth, especially, white elephant is the highest representing for power and royalty.
National animal: Water Buffalo (Bubalus bubalis)
Vietnam is an agricultural country and the image of water buffalo is always regarded as a family animal for the Vietnamese people, in particular, the peasants. The image of the buffalo is closely tied to the rural landscape of Vietnam.
National animal #1: Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis)
National animal #2: Javan hawk-eagle (Nisaetus bartelsi)
National animal #3: Asian arowana (Scleropages aureus and Scleropages legendrei)
Both species of Scleropages aureus (red-tailed golden arowana) is native to northern Sumatra, while the Scleropages legendrei (super red arowana) is native to Kapuas river and nearby lakes in West Kalimantan.
National animal: Crocodile
The ability of the crocodile to protect its eggs until they hatch, protect and provide for the young crocodiles makes it be considered the national symbol of East Timor.
National animal: Kouprey
The Kouprey is a species of wild cattle endemic to Cambodia, where it is the national mammal. Its name is derived from Khmer and means Forest Ox.
The Kouprey has probably always been rare, and the kouprey was last seen in 1988. The last published records of kouprey are those of zoologist Charles Wharton, who lead an expedition to capture kouprey in 1963 and 1964.
Source : Various sources including Wikipedia, GoAsean and www.worldatlas.com