Indonesia: Endemic species face extinction due to hunting, breeding problems

Ruslan Sangadji, The Jakarta Post 9 Jan 16;

The management of Lore Lindu National Park (TNLL) in Central Sulawesi say its regular observations over the past few years have found that the populations of at least four animal species endemic to the region are in decline as a result of reproduction difficulties and poaching.

Speaking to The Jakarta Post on Thursday, TNLL head Sudayatna said numbers of mountain anoa, low-plain anoa, babirusa and tarsius within the park area had substantially dropped.

“Several years ago, our field officers could easily spot anoa or babirusa gathered in herds of 15 to 20. Over the past year, however, they could only find a single herd of no more than 11 anoa and babirusa,” Sudayatna said.

Another species that his men noticed have been declining in number is the tarsius.

“Unlike the maleo bird, the populations of anoa, babirusa and tarsius continue to decline as we currently have no breeding program for them,” Sudyatna said.

According to him, babirusa and anoa could not be bred like the maleo, which has been bred successfully in captivity.

The center is only able to build watering holes for the anoa and babirusa to help them survive the threat of extinction.

Sudayatna described the babirusa and anoa as very wild animal species surviving in vast areas, so when his center had sufficient funds, it would build watering holes and provide food to both animal species so they would feel at home there. “It’s the only thing we can do to save them and help them multiply,” he said.

The 189,000-square-kilometer TNLL is located around 60 kilometers south of the provincial capital of Palu.

It is home to endemic Sulawesi flora and fauna as well as beautiful natural panorama, as it sits along the Wallace Line and part of the Asian and Australian continental shelves. The TNLL is the biggest mammal habitat in Sulawesi.

The anoa, babirusa, deer, monkey ghost, kakaktonkea monkey, kuskus marsupial, tarsius and Sulawesi musang civet, the biggest meat-eating mammal, live in the park.

TNLL is also home to at least five squirrel species and 31 of 38 rat species, including endemic species.

It also includes at least 55 bat species and more than 230 bird species, including the maleo, two Senggang, julang and kengkareng bird species endemic to Sulawesi.

Thousands of exotic and beautiful insect species can also be found around TNLL. The brightly colored butterflies flying around the park or along footpaths and streams regularly attract visitors.

Biology researcher Mohammad Yasin, who has been studying the region’s endemic species, said that his research over the past three years had confirmed that babirusa and anoa also inhabited the neighboring Togean National Park in Tojo Una-Una regency.

Yasin estimated that there were currently 200 babirusa in Togean. The size of the babirusa population in Togean, he added, remained stable compared to that in TNLL as people in the Muslim-majority region were not allowed by their religious teachings to consume meat from babirusa, a type of pig.

“This is different compared to TNLL, whose most residents living near the park are Christians who are allowed to consume the meat,” he said.

Sudyatna emphasized the role of the local community in protecting the forest and its endemic species.

“They have to stop poaching the protected animals. This is important as the TNLL is not just a state or provincial asset, but also the lungs of the world,” he said.

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