Endangered Species

Malaysia is one of the 17 megadiverse countries identified in Conservation International’s landmark 1998 paper. This means that we are home to more than 5,000 species not found anywhere else in the world!

Sadly, some of these species are under threat. In our game, we highlight two charismatic species that are endangered in Malaysia. Both species are protected by the Fisheries Act 1985.

Leatherback Turtle

The Leatherback turtle is the largest among 7 sea turtle species. They feed primarily on jellyfish and return to shore annually to lay their eggs.

Studies have shown a drastic decline in the Malaysian population of Leatherbacks; from 10,000 nests per year in the 1950s to less than 10 nests per year in the 2000s. Scientists believe this is due to threats like entanglement in fishing gear, pollution and sexual skew due to rising global temperatures.

The leatherback population is now classified as functionally extinct in Malaysia with the last individual landing in 2017.

A return of the leatherback population to our shores would instantaneously halt development in the area. In the game, development is removed to facilitate the species recovery.

Leatherback landing in 2010 (Photo credit: Harris Heng)


The dugong, a marine mammal, can be found in Malaysian waters; off the Mersing islands of Johor, some parts of Sabah and Sarawak. They feed exclusively on seagrass and consume up to 40kg per day!

Dugong are slow swimmers and have to surface frequently to breathe. This makes them vulnerable to boat strikes in areas with high boat traffic. Other threats to their survival include entanglement in fishing gear and seagrass habitat degradation.

The dugong is listed as ‘Vulnerable’ in the IUCN Red list.

The presence of dugongs in an area would significantly increase its conservation value and call for any development to halted. In the game, development is scaled back to allow for the dugong’s survival.