Monday, February 18, 2008

Indonesian Animals

Unique Habitat

The magnitude of diversity in lowland rain forests across Southeast Asia is phenomenal, providing unique animal species with unique habitats. A multitude of both plant and animal species in the region is matchless in form and color. These astonishing features convinced a Western biologist. Alfred Russel Wallace, to draw an imaginary between the oriental and Australian Worlds of Plants and animals. The forest of Sumatra and Kalimantan, on the west of Wallace's line, contain Asian features, and are dominated by trees of the Dipterocarpaceae family. But forests in Maluku and west Irian (and Papua New Guinea), on the eastern part of Wallace's Line, exhibit Australian characteristics where Eucalyptus and Casuarina are dominant. Sulawesi, however, is extremely unique as it processes both Asian and Australian characters.

Uniqueness in forest features is associated with uniqueness in animal species. For example, the elephant, the largest herbivore in the region, can only be found in Sumatra (at one time it also occurred in Java). Other fascinating animals from the western region of Wallace's are rhinoceroses (Elephas maximus and Dicerorhinus sumatrensis), tigers (Panthera tigris), orang utan (Pongo pygmaeus), and tapir (Tapirus indicus). Tigers are reckoned to be restricted to Sumatra, as the Javanese tigers (Panthera tigris sondaica) have already become extinct. Orang utan is the most celebrated representative of the Indonesian animals kingdom, and can only be found in Sumatra and Kalimantan. The Tapir is a rare species in Sumatran rain forests, and is distinguished by its trunk-like snout but is hardly seen in the forests because of its black and white camouflage. The beautiful peafowl (Pavo miticus), the magnificent great argus (Argusianus argus), the talkative hill myna (Graculla religiosa), and the endemic Javan hawk-eagle (Spizaetus bartels) are only a few of fascinating Asian birds.

The Eastern region of Wallace's line is home to a different array of magnificent birds, marsupials and reptiles. Cuscus and tree kangaroos are typical of the Australian continent. Another very celebrated animal is the Komodo monitor which inhabits the island of Komodo. Padar and Rinca, in the Lesser Sundas. A few, amongst numerous, unique birds are: bird of paradise and bower birds, an ostrich-like cassowary, hundreds of parrot and cockatoo species, and the crowned pigeon (the largest pigeon in the region), which inhabit the lowland forests of west Irian, Maluku and its adjecent islands.

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