Gunung Leuser in the north of Sumatra covers 950,000 hectares (7,927 square kilometres) and is one of Indonesia's largest National Parks. It was formerly a number of much smaller nature reserves: Nature Reserve Gunung Leuser, Nature Reserve Kappi, Nature Reserve Kluet, Sikundur Langkat Wildlife Reserve, Ketambe Research Station, Singkil Barat and Dolok Sembilin. These all now been combine to form the one National Park.
The bio-diversity is breathtaking and approximately 700 different species of animals (320 birds, 176 mammals and 194 reptiles and amphibians) live in this region. Mammals include the orangutan, Sumatran tiger, Sumatran rhinoceros, leopard cat, banded leaf monkey, silvered leaf monkey, long-tailed macaque, Malayan sun bear, red giant flying squirrel, Asian elephant, Temminck's golden cat, siamang, Sumatran Serow, swamp crocodile and the clouded leopard.
Of the 10,000 plant species recorded in the West Indo-Malayan region, it is estimated that 45% are found in the Gunung Leuser ecosystem. The Rafflesia which has the largest flower in the world is found here, as is the Amorphophallus, which has the tallest flower in the world. Among the trees and flowers live more than 300 species of bird.
Gunung Leuser would be best-known for its Sumatran tigers and the two orangutan reserves which fall within its boundaries. At Bohorok-Bukit Lawang is the Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre which takes captive orangs and reintroduces them back into the wild. Ketambe is a research station and restricted to scientists. Tourism is not permitted.
Gunung Leuser is widely considered to be the most secure reserve area for the Sumatran tiger. Around 400 tigers live on the island of Sumatra; about 100 are outside reserves and their prospects are grim. Remote cameras within Gunung Leuser National Park enabled the population there to be estimated at between 110-116 Sumatran tigers; 36-39 male and 74-77 female.
Unfortunately the park has a great many challenges facing it.
Tiger and rhino
poaching is ongoing, as is illegal logging. 4,000 hectares of forest
across Sumatra is damaged or removed each day and the fact
that an area is a National Park makes little difference. As
the forest is removed flooding occurs and becomes widespread.
If the destruction continues at the present rate Sumatra will
be deforested within only 4 years. The IUCN has rated Indonesia as a country whose endangered
species are under the threat of extinction.
With Thanks To Lisa Purcell (Photo 1)