Monday, December 28, 2015

Ujung Kulon National Park, home of the Javan Rhino

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 scarcely 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 Krakatau in 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.

More Information available at the National Park’s Official Website: http://ujungkulon.org/

(Indonesia.travel)

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