Destinations in Indonesia
Bukit Tigapuluh National Park in Jambi: Threatened Habitat of Sumatran Orangutans
Bukit Tigapuluh National Park or the Thirty Hills National Park burst into world’s limelight when CNN ran a series in September-October 2013 entitled “Expedition Sumatra” hosted by explorer Philippe Cousteau, son of legendary explorer Jacques Cousteau.
Arriving at Bukit Tigapuluh, after a most harrowing journey through jungle terrain, Philippe Cousteau said that here is “ground zero for the global fight against deforestation, Sumatra is the only place in the world where tigers, elephants and orangutans co-exist”. Sumatra forms part of the “ring of forests along the equator known as the lungs of the world”.
Bukit Tigapuluh is known to have one of the highest biodiverse flora and fauna species in the world. Where “Biodiversity is the natural way earth manages its own sustainability. The more diverse the variety of species, the more healthier the ecosystem”. Philippe Cousteau added.
Not yet open for tourists,- nor recommended because of its very difficult access - the Bukit Tigapuluh National Park covers 144,223 hectares of lowland and highland rainforests , straddling the provinces of Riau and Jambi, with 33,000 hectares located in the province of Jambi. It is located adjacent to the Tesso Nilo National Park in the province of Riau.
This primary rainforest is habitat to the Sumatran Orangutan, the Sumatran Tiger and the Sumatran Elephant as well as other rare endangered species like the Sumatran rhino and the tapir and honey bears.
Established as National Park in 1995, the Bukit Tigapuluh Park is said to have 59 species of mammals, 6 primates, and no less than 198 bird species.
Moreover, Bukit Tigapuluh is also home of the indigenous tribe called Talang Mamak, who have made these jungles their residence and source of living. They earn their living collecting resin from a species of rattan, which is known as “dragon blood” which can be sold in the towns for millions of rupiahs. However, with illegal loggers encroaching into the park, this resin becomes harder to come by, making life more and more difficult for this isolated tribe.
The Talang Mamak, together with the nomadic Orang Rimba (otherwise known as the Kubu tribe) are said to be descendents of the Pagaruyung Kingdom in neighboring West Sumatra. Other scientists ascribe them to originate from the Siak Indragiri kingdom in Riau, that was the center of the Malay kingdom. But when most of the region embraced Islam, not so these tribes who chose to adhere to their traditional ancient beliefs and therefore fled into these remote jungles. For this reason, when members of their tribes convert to Islam, they will be called Malays.
In this dense rainforest, the Frankfurt Zooligical Society (FZS) has established a center for the re-introduction of Sumatran Orang utans, that have been kept in captivity and must now be weaned and taught to fend for themselves in the wild. Unlike orangutans in Borneo, the Sumatran orangutans must be taught to live in trees, to avoid tigers and elephants roaming on the ground.
Until today, FZS has successfully reintroduced some 140 orang utans into the wild of Bukit Tigapuluh.
Today, though, the echo of saws reverberating through the forest is coming closer and closer, threatening the habitat of orangutans, tigers and elephants, but also the home and way of life of the Talang Mamak.
Around the Park’s periphery are stretches of palm oil plantations, while wood continues to be needed for the production of pulp and paper. All these threaten to further encroach into these primary rainforests, destroying its bio-diversity and eliminating the habitat of endangered Sumatran Orangutans, the last remaining Sumatran Tigers, and Sumatran Elephants.
For more information on CNN’s “ Expedition Sumatra” log on to http://edition.cnn.com/2013/09/10/world/expedition-sumatra-we-knew-this/index.html.