The Diversity of Wildlife. Indonesia is one of the greatest places in the world to experience the richness of wildlife diversity. This is a bold claim yet one that can be supported again and again. It has the highest number of species of mammals in the world, with a staggering 515 types. Beyond this you will find over 1,500 species of birds, 270 species of amphibians, more than 120 species of butterflies and that is only on land. Why? Why has Indonesia developed into this ecological escape for the natural world?
The answers lie in it being within the ring of fire. These volcanic islands provide rich soils, temperate zones, rich flora and fauna and isolated pockets of sanctuary from humanity. These independent islands have been a mini ecosystem that has evolved and flourished with unique and divergent varieties of animals through mutations and a less competitive natural selection process.
Throughout Indonesian history these creatures have taken on many roles, from religious to mystical, from aesthetic pleasure to domesticated workers. For instance many features of rare and exotic birds have been and still are used to adorn ceremonial costumes, such as in Baliem. Another example of this can be seen across Indonesia and in the pursuit of coconuts. Different types of monkeys are part of the family and have their chores in climbing the tall Palm Trees to collect the ripe coconuts.
This rich diversity has been the source of intrigue and study for many generations, some of the more noteworthy being Raffles, who later went on to colonize Singapore, and the natural history expert Alfred Russel Wallace. Perhaps his counterpart Darwin has remained in history’s eye yet Wallace’s contribution to and sheer genius of evolutionary biology has to be recognized. He took and found great inspiration from his many visits and studies in Indonesia in the 1800’s. He journeyed through Java, Sumatra and Borneo yet found some of the greatest discoveries in the remote islands of east Indonesia.
Although this golden age of zoology has matured there are still many mysteries and wonders to be witnessed within this rich animal kingdom. Today, our journeys may not be of international discovery but of personal breakthroughs and better understanding. Looking beyond the individual experience greater knowledge will also lead to a stronger willingness and ability to protect and conserve this treasure of wildlife.
Some wonders to witness :
- Varanus Komodoensis (The Komodo Dragon), the largest monitor lizard in the world. Found on Komodo Island and the a few of the surrounding Islands.
- Panthera Pardus (The Javan Leopard), sadly a threatened species that finds sanctuary in National Parks on Java.
- The White Rhino, found in the depths of Ujung Kolun National Park.
- Aceros Cassidix (The Hornbill – The Year Bird), in the jungles of Kalimantan, look out for the number of ridges on its nose, which are believed to represent the birds age.
- Nasalis Iarvantus (Proboscis Monkey), mainly found in Kalimantan, the best time to see them is in the early mornings or late afternoons as they search for food and return to their sleeping areas.
- Marcopus Agilis (The Agile Wallaby)
- Dendrolagus Inustus (The Grizzled Tree Kangaroo)
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