Ujung Kulon National Park : The World’s Most Pristine Natural Ecosystem
At the southwestern tip of Java Island, where the Sunda Strait, that divides the islands of Java and Sumatra, converge with the vast Indian Ocean, lies one of the world’s most pristine natural ecosystem and Indonesia’s prime national park: Ujung Kulon National Park. The national park is known as the last sanctuary of the critically endangered Javan Rhinos (rhinoceros sundaicus), and the only place on earth where they can breed naturally.
Situated about 300 km from the capital city of Jakarta, or about 140 km from Serang, the capital city of Banten Province, Ujung Kulon National Park encompasses a total area of 122,955 hectares consisting of 78,619 hectares land area and 44,337 hectares of seas. The national park stretches across the Ujung Kulon Peninsula, Panaitan Island, Peucang Island, Handeleum islands, and Honje Mountain Range. Administratively, Ujung Kulon National Park is located within the Sumur and Cimanggu districts, in the Pandeglang Regency, in the province of Banten.
With scarecy any human interference, the national park has a very well preserved ecosystem of flora and fauna. Its most precious feature is the one-horned rhinoceros (rhinoceros sundaicus) or more commonly known as the Javan Rhino which is regarded as the icon of not only the national park but also of the province. This majestic creature is known as one of the rarest mammals on earth and is classified as critically endangered in the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) Red List of Threatened Species.
Once the most widespread of Asian rhinoceroses, it was in October 2011, that the International Rhino Foundation confirmed that the Sunda rhinoceros was extinct in Cat Tien National Park, Vietnam, the last and only place where Javan Rhinos were found outside Ujung Kulon. This left Ujung Kulon as the only sanctuary of the species on earth. The latest research conducted in 2013 indicated that there are only 58 Javan Rhinos in existence.
The Javan Rhinos are known as the largest animals on Java and the second largest animals in Indonesia after the Asian Elephant. The body length of the Javan rhino (including its head) can be up to 2 to 4 m (6.6 to 13.1 ft), and it can reach a height of 1.4–1.7 m (4.6–5.8 ft). Adults are variously reported to weigh between 900 and 2,300 kg (2,000 and 5,100 lb). Distinctively, the Javan rhino has a single horn (the other extant species have two horns). Its horn is the smallest of all extant rhinos, usually less than 20 cm (7.9 inches) with the longest recorded being only 27 cm (10.5 in). Only males have horns. Female Sunda rhinos are the only extant rhinos that remain hornless into adulthood, though they may develop a tiny bump of an inch or two in height.
This extraordinary creature is extremely rare and barely makes its appearance noticeable. Some of the locals even regard the Javan rhino as more than a mere animal but almost like a near sacred ancient creature.
Aside from the Javan Rhino, Ujung Kulon National Park is also home to many other special wildlife such as the Owa Jawa monkeys (Hylobates moloch), Surili (Presbytis aigula), dhole /wild dog (Cuon alpinus javanicus), Banteng Bull (Bos javanicus), Silvery gibbon (Hylobates moloch), Javan lutung (Trachypithecus auratus), long-tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis), Javan leopard (Panthera pardus melas), Java mouse-deer / kancil (Tragulus javanicus), Rusa deer (Rusa timorensis), and more. There are also over 72 species of reptiles and amphibians, and 240 species of birds that make Ujung Kulon their home.
The Ujung Kulon National Park is one of only few areas which feature vegetation profiles from sea-coastal to tropical mountains. There are over 700 types of flora within the national park, of which 57 are classified as rare in Java and quite possibly the world. Among some of the flora that are known to grow solely in the area include the Batryohora geniculata, Cleidion spiciflorum, Heritiera percoriacea, and Knema globularia.
The eclectic flora and fauna at Ujung Kulon was first noticed and studied by Dutch and British botanists in 1820. The area was later devastated by the historical eruption of the nearby Mount Krakatauin August 1883. However, the forests of Ujung Kulon underwent successful regeneration and managed to keep its natural integrity. Parts of today’s national park and World Heritage site have been protected since the early 20th century. Ujung Kulon was first declared a reservation area in 1980, following the 3rd World’s National Park Congress in Bali. In 1992, Ujung Kulon was officially established as a National park. In the same year, due to its significant role, UNESCO designated Ujung Kulon National Park as a World Heritage Site.
There are a number of alternatives where you can stay in the Ujung Kulon National Park. In Sumur area there are some basic accommodations at the Sarang Badak, PKP-RI, and Rhino Inn. At Taman jaya, there is the Sunda jaya Homestay, and Prima Homestay which offer 6 bedrooms and shared bathrooms. The homestays are located along the road to Taman jaya Dock and The Office of Ujung Kulon National Park area II Handeluem Island and Taman jaya.
In Peucang Island, there is the Peucang Island Eco Resort which offers 21 rooms with different classes and facilities. Staying here is truly out of the ordinary, since you will be greeted by monkeys, wild boars, deer, and other animals as you step out of your rooms.
There are also an 8 rooms lodging at Handeleum Island which are managed by the staff of Ujung Kulon National Park. However, you need to bring your own logistics (food and water) since none are provided in Handeleum Island.
Ujung Kulon National Park also spells thrilling adventure featuring plenty of exciting activities. The area offers breathtaking sceneries, close encounter with the wild, and a one of a kind sensation of truly being one with nature. There are 5 main entrances to the national park; on land are the Taman jaya and Sumur areas, while entrances from the sea can made from the islands of Peucang, Handeleum, and Panaitan.
Taman jaya Village is the main entrance to Ujung Kulon National park and a staging point to the Handeuleum Islands. Here you can visit Cibiuk Hot Spring, Cikarang Waterfall, and go trekking down the Kalejetan Trail where you van discover various creatures of the wild.
Peucang Island is blessed with soft white sandy beaches, surrounded by magnificent coral reefs, and inhabited by plenty of wild animals that are not shy to make their appearance. Peucang offers some of the best snorkeling experiences and it is also perfect for scuba diving for advanced and experienced divers at some of the spots on the western part of the island. You can also visit Karang copong which feature a splendid view of a hollowed rock on on the shore.
Peucang is also the perfect place to venture to some of the most fascinating features located at the Ujung Kulon Peninsula such as the Cidaon grazing fields where you can observe wild Banteng bulls and colorful peacocks, canoeing the Ciujung kulon River, trekking across the Cibunar Trail, or make your way to Tanjung Layar, the most western edge of Java Island. At Tanjung Layar you can observe the lighthouse which is still in operation to guide passing ships, and also ruins of the original lighthouse built by the Dutch.
Handeleum Islands are a group of small islands off the north eastern part of the peninsula which consists of Handeleum Besar, Handeleum Kecil, Boboko, and Reungit Islands. Here you can take a boat down the Cigenter River and get the chance to see phyton snakes, toucans, and many others fascinating creatures. Although Javan rhinos are known to frequently visit the area, yet they are very shy and hardly show themselves in daylight. The islands also feature beautiful beaches perfect for swimming and other relaxing activities.
Panaitan Island with its spectacular underwater sceneries offers the best diving experiences in the area. However, these may only be suitable for advanced and experienced divers and are not recommended for beginners.
There are two ways to enter Ujung Kulon National Park: By chartered boats from Carita Beach and overland by car via Labuan to Taman jaya or Sumur. If you take the sea route, it is approximately 2-3 hours boat ride from Carita Beach to Peucang Island where the accommodation and national park representative office are situated.
If you take the overland route, from Jakartayou can head out to Serang, the capital of Banten via the Toll road for about 2 hours drive. From Serang, you continue westward to Labuan, in Pandeglang Regency for roughly about 2 hours. The little town of Labuan is where the main office of the Ujung Kulon National Park is located (at Jl. Perintis Kemerdekaan No.51 ). From Labuan, the road continues to Panimbang, Sumur , and Taman jaya for a little over another 2 hours. Some of the road may be narrow and are not in good condition, so drivers must be prepared and. Remain watchful.
The Office of Ujung Kulon National Park area II Handeleum and Taman jaya provide the entrance tickets, insurance, and general information about the National Park. The office is located in the Taman jaya Village near the dock of Taman jaya. All requirements for tourist activities such as boat rentals, local guides, porters and more, can be arranged at the office.
Before you start on your trip it is best to contact the Ujung Kulon National Park management regarding permits and other arrangements.
You can contact :
Balai Taman Nasional Ujung Kulon (Ujung Kulon National Park Management)
Jl. Perintis Kemerdekaan No.51 Kec. Labuan, Kab. Pandeglang, Provinsi Banten. 42264, Indonesia