Bali Barat

Reserves For The Balinese Subspecies

Bali Barat

Bali, and its nearby island, Lombok, have always held rich flora and fauna. Bali is a tiny island, and of the eight subspecies of tiger the Balinese started out with the smallest available space. In itself that presented a severe threat to the subspecies.

Many of the same things that caused the extinction of the Bali tiger still continue today. Human activity, agriculture (coffee and coconut cultivation), collection of firewood, increasing tourism; about the only thing that doesn't still go on is vast amounts of uncontrolled hunting.

But lush forests still grow on Bali's southern and western slopes. Bali Barat National Park (A.K.A. Taman Nasional Bali Barat or West Bali National Park) covers 50,000 hectares on the western tip of the island. It also includes another 7,000 hectares of coral reef and coastal water. Considering the small size of the island as a whole, the National Park is a major commitment towards attempting to preserve the wildlife found on Bali.

West Bali is an isolated area with a low rainfall and little access to water supplies. This has restricted the amount of human interference and explains why it was to here that the Bali tiger finally retreated. Hunters followed, usually travelling from nearby Java on hunting trips lasting a few days. It was also here that saw the last known Bali tiger shot and killed on the 27th September, 1937; this was an adult tigress. The Bali tiger had already vanished prior to the creation of Bali Barat National Park, by the Dutch in 1941. Today the hunters from nearby Java have gone and visitors wanting to penetrate deeply into the park must have a permit.

Tropical rainforest is limited on Bali; most of the area is coastal savannah with deciduous trees or mangroves. Over 200 species of plants are found in Bali Barat National Park. Included in these are a number with religious significance, like the massive banyan which has been associated with Hinduism for as long as anyone can remember. These are often found placed outside temples and dressed decoratively with black and white cloth. Shrines are constructed up in their branches high above the ground. Another sacred tree is pule; the wood from this is used to make the evil figure of rangda. Yet another is the kepuh tree which is the traditional tree of the cemetery, traditionally thought of as a favourite haunt for earthbound evil spirits.

Despite being heavily populated, and only a small island, Bali has a wide range of rare and unusual fauna. These range from the indigenous bateng cattle through to spiders as large as your hand. The spiders aren't poisonous, but the scorpions are, and will make a victim quite sick for about 24 hours. Black monkeys, squirrels, wild pigs, buffalo, macaques, leaf monkeys, green snakes, barking deer, sambar, Java deer, squirrels, iguanas, pythons; these are all located in Bali Barat National Park.

Also living here are over 300 species of bird and this is one of the few places where the Bali starling (also known as Rothschild's mynah) is found in the wild. This is the only surviving bird endemic to Bali and one of the world's most endangered bird species. Though it breeds readily in captivity, and is sold in cages, when it comes to its natural habitat the bird borders on extinction with perhaps 14 remaining. Attempts are being made to release captive birds, but this is proving difficult as poachers are re-capturing them as fast as they can be released.

Bali Tiger Reserves - Bali Barat

Origin | Project Tiger | Releasing Captive Tigers | The Tale Of Tara | Taking A CensusPost Mortems
Tiger Reserves: Amur | Bali | Bengal | Caspian | Corbetts | Javan | South Chinese | Sumatran

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Photography With Thanks To Erich Mangl (Photos 1-2)
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