By Dian Hasan | May 13, 2009
The world’s largest archipelago, Indonesia, carries the accolade as among the world’s last bastion against global warming. With the world’s second largest tropical rainforest after Brazil’s Amazon, it’s no wonder that Indonesia also has the second richest biodiversity.
A tall order of responsibility indeed to carry for Indonesia alone, it has become global concern for the future of mankind. Many international organizations are involved directly with plight of Indonesia’ tropical rainforests, from World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) Save Sumatra, to Greenpeace and Save the Rainforest, promoting awareness of the loss of valuable biodiversity and natural habitat for the world’s most endangered species, and the fight against unsustainable (illegal) logging and mining, forest fires, poaching, pulp & paper industry, illegal human settlers, and encroaching urban development. As a developing country, with the world’s 4th largest population, the resource-rich Indonesia relies heavily on oil & gas, mining, and logging, in addition to a growing industrialization. There is a constant dilemma to find the right balance between economic development and keeping environmental damage in check.
The demands on the environment to continue growing the economy is staggering, ie. giving impetus to illegal logging on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo (Kalimantan). Precious tropical rainforests are destructed at an alarming rate. These forests are being lost at the alarming rate of over five million acres per year – the equivalent of 300 football fields per hour. As these forests disappear, so does habitat for threatened species, including orangutans, tigers, and rhinos.
Here’s a closer look at these endangered animals:
JAVAN RHINO (Rhinoceros Sondaicus): also known as one-horned rhino that distinguishes it from its African cousin, the Javan Rhino is a member of the family Rhinocerotidae and is among the most elusive of all endangered animals. World Wildlife Fund (WWF) estimates that there are only 60 left in the wild, mostly in Southwest Java in the Ujung Kulon National Park, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
ORANG UTAN: derived from the Malay and Indonesian words “orang” meaning “person”, and “hutan” meaning “forest”. A species of great apes that are known for their intelligence, that are found only in rainforests on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo (Indonesia’s Kalimantan). On the surface their population seem to be in healthy numbers, as they probably receive the most media attention – both local and international, however accelerated deforestation and continued rampant poaching has significantly threatened their habitat.
SUMATRAN TIGER (Panthera Tigris Sumatrae): a subspecies of tiger found on the island of Sumatra. Related to the now extinct Javan and Bali Tigers, Sumatra is now home to the most endangered big cat family member in Asia. WWF estimates that there are less than 500 Sumatran Tigers left in the wild.
PYGMY ELEPHANT (Elephas Maximus Borneensis): a subspecies of the Asian Elephant and found in Borneo (Indonesia’s Kalimantan). Smaller than their Asian elephant cousin that grow up to 3 meters, the “petite” Borneo Pygmy elephant males grow to less than 2.5 meters. They have rounder faces, larger ears, and longer tails that almost touch the ground. And as befitting the region they come from , Pygmy elephants are known to be less aggressive than other elephants.