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Conservation Areas at Sumatra

North of Sumatra

Gunung Leuser National Park is one of the world’s most important and biologically diverse conservation areas. It is often described as a complete ecosystem laboratory because of the range of forest and species types.

Within the park’s boundaries live some of the planet’s most endangered species - tigers, rhinoceros, elephants and orang-utans. Although your chances of seeing these celebrity animals are extremely remote, you can be sure of encountering plenty of primates. The most common is the white-breasted Thomas Leaf monkey, which sports a brilliant, crested punk hairdo.

Habitats range from the swamp forests of the west coast to the dense lowland rainforests of the interior. Much of the area around Ketambe is virgin forest. Above 1500m, the permanent mist has created moss forests rich in epiphytes and orchids. Rare flora includes two members of the rafflesia family, Rafflesia acehensis and Rafflesia zippelnii, which are found along Sungai Alas.

More than 300 bird species have been recorded in the park, including the bizarre rhinoceros hornbill and the helmeted horn-bill, which has a call that sounds like maniacal laughter.

The park faces a great number of challenges. Poachers have virtually wiped out the crocodile population and have severely reduced the number of tigers and rhinoceros. According to the Indonesian Forum for the Environment, a fifth of the park has been adversely affected by illegal logging and road construction. A highly controversial road project, called Ladia Galaska, has been on the government agenda for years and when completed will link the eastern and western coasts of the province through the park. The progress of the project has been slow and embattled.

This park receives a lot of rain through-out the year, but rain showers tend to lessen in frequency and duration from December to March.

Orientation & Information
Gurah, in the heart of the Alas Valley, is one of the main access points to Gunung Leuser National Park. Directly across the river is Ketambe, home to a world-renowned conservation research station, which is off limits to tourists (see the boxed text on below). Kutacane, 43km from Gurah, is the closest town of any note and is the place to go for transport, supplies and post and telephone facilities.

You are not allowed to enter the park without a permit and a guide. Both are available from the PHKA office in Tanah Merah, about 45 minutes from Gurah, and 15 minutes from Kutacane. Permits cost about 20,000Rp (plus 500Rp insurance) per day. In theory you will need three photocopies of your passport but this is rarely required. Guides can be hired from the PHKA office or from any guesthouse in Gurah. If you have a certain plant or animal objective, ask around for the guides with that specialty.

For serious trekkers and jungle enthusiasts Gurah offers a much more authentic experience than the trekking near Bukit Lawang. Be prepared for hordes of leeches, swarms of stinging insects and extreme terrain. The PHKA office in Tanah Merah has information about a variety of treks, from short walks to 14-day hikes through the jungle to the tops of the park’s mountains. Here are a few options; guides can also tailor a trip to specific requests:

  • Gurah Recreation Forest The hutan wisata (recreation forest) at Gurah is a park within the national park. The forest’s 9200 hectares have walking tracks and viewing towers; the most popular walk involves a two-hour (5km) hike from Gurah to hot springs by Sungai Alas. There’s also a 6km walk to a waterfall. Gunung Kemiri At 3314m, this is the second-highest peak in Gunung Leuser National Park. The return trek takes five to six days, starting from the village of Gumpang, north of Gurah. It takes in some of the park’s richest primate habitat, with orang-utans, macaques, siamangs and gibbons.
  • Gunung Perkinson Allow seven days for the return trek to the summit of Gunung Perkinson (2828m), on the eastern side of the park. There are wild orchids, lady slipper and other flowers unique to Aceh, as well as a spectacular moss forest along this route.
  • Gunung Simpali The trek to Gunung Simpali (3270m) is a one-week round trip starting from the village of Engkran and following the valley of Sungai Lawe Mamas. Rhinos live in this area. The Lawe Mamas is a wild, raging river that joins the Alas about 15km north of Kutacane.
  • Gunung Leuser The park’s highest peak is, of course, Gunung Leuser (3404m). Only the fit should attempt the 14-day return trek to the summit. The walk starts from the village of Angusan, northwest of Blangkejeran.



Kerinci Seblat National Park covers almost 1.4 million ha straddling four provinces, namely Jambi (422,190 Ha), West Sumatra (353,780 Ha), Bengkulu (310,910 Ha), and South Sumatra (281,120 Ha). Physically, KSNP is a part of Bukit Barisan Mountain Range stretching North to South along Sumatra Island. The park, which lies at about 200 m to 3,805 m above sea level, is located between 100º31’18″ – 102º44’01″ East Longitude and 1º07’13″ – 1º26’14″ South Latitude.

Its physical setting and location makes KSNP as one of the richest conservation area in terms of biodiversity and the most undiminished of Sumatra’s representative ecosystems. The ecosystems or forest types based on altitude as well as other particulars may be outlined as follows:

  • Sub montane and lowland rain forest (200-1,500 asl.) is dominated by members of the families Dipterocarpaceae and Leguminosae.
  • Montane forest (1,500-2,500 asl.) is dominated by members of the families Dipterocarpaceae, Lauraceae, and Myrtaceae.
  • Sub alpine ecosystem (2,500 m asl. and above) is dominated by members of the families Lauraceae, Fagaceae, and Erycaceae, including various fern species.
  • Mount Kerinci summit (3,805 m asl.), the highest peak in Sumatra, is dominated by herbs and grasses, and includes the eternal flower Anaphalis javanica.

Other, special and unique ecosystems in the park are Rawa Bento, Ladeh Panjang, and Gunung Tujuh Lake. Rawa Bento is a fresh water swamp located at ±1,300 m asl. dominated by Bento Grass (Leersia hexandra), and tree species such as Bintungan (Biscofia javanica), Gelam Merah (Xylocarpus granatum), and Kelat Putih (Alangium sp.). Ladeh Panjang is a peat swamp on the Mount Kerinci highland (±1,600 m asl.), the highest peat swamp in South East Asia. Gunung Tujuh Lake (±1,600 m asl.) is a deep volcanic with a surrounding ridge of seven hills.

In the park can be found at least 306 bird species of 49 families and 42 mammal species of 19 families. A record of the park’s reptiles, fish, and insects is not yet available. Common bird species found in the park are of the Pycnotidae family, such as the sooty-headed Bulbul (Pycnonotus aurigaster) and Black headed Bulbul (Pycnonotus atriceps); the Accipiteridae family, such as Crested Serpent Eagle (Spilornis cheela); Capitonidae family, such as Blue eared Barbet (Megalaima australis); Picidae family, such as Crimson-winged Wood pecker (Picus puniceus); Muscipidae family, such as Sikatan (Ficedula stropiata); Silvidae family, such as Yellow-bellied prinia (Prinia flaviventris); and Columbidae family, such as Spotted Doves (Geopelia striata) and Pinknecked Pigeon (Treron vernans). In addition, many protected bird species are found in the park, among others Rhinoceros Hornbills (Buceros rhinoceros), Argus Pheasant (Argusianus argus), Black Eagle (Ichtinaetus malayensis), European Hobby (Falco subbeteo), Southern Peat Hornbill (Anthrococeros convexsus), Common Kingfisher (Alcedo athis) and Brown-throated Barbet (Magalaima oorti).

Some endemic bird species found are red-billed patridge (Arborophylla rubirostris), Blue-masked leafbird (Chloropsis venusta), Sumatra Cochoa (Cochoa beccarii), Blue Thrush (Myiophoneus malanurus), Stresmann’s Scops Owl (Otus stresemanni), Schneider’s pitta (Pitta scheidari), Sumatran Peacock pheasant (Polypectron chalcurun) and Spot necked bulbul (Pycnonotus tympanistragus).

Mammals found in the park include both protected and common species. The six primates found are Agile Gibon (Hylobates agilis), Siamang (Symphalangus syndactylus), Banded langur / Leaf monkey (Presbytis melalophos), Silver leaf monkey (Presbytis cristata), Pigtailed macaque (Macaca nemestrina) and Long-tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis). Other protected mammal species present are Sumatran Rhinosceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis), Tapir (Tapirus indicus), Sambar Deer (Cervus unicolor), Barking Deer (Muntiacus muntjak), Mouse Deer (Tragulus napu), Wild Goat (Capricornus sumatranus), Sumatran Hare (Nesolagus sumatranus), Malayan Sun Bear (Helarctos malayanus), as well as cat species such as Sumatran Tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrensis) and Clouded Leopard (Neofelis nebulosa). In addition, there are three endemic species in the Kerinci area, including Summit Rat (Maxomys hylomyoides), Kerinci giant Rat (Maxomys inflatus) and Hamaker civet rats (Mustela hamakeri).




West of Sumatra

Siberut Island in the Province of West Sumatra is separated from the mainland by the Mentawai Strait, at a distance of about 155 km from Padang where Siberut National Park is located on the island. Some 60% of the forest area is covered by Dipterocarpaceae primary forest, mixed primary forest, swamp forest, coastal forest and mangrove forest. The forest area of the Park is still relatively natural, with abundant large trees with an average height of 60 metres. The Park has four primate species which are found nowhere else in the world. They are the Mentawai gibbon (Hylobates klossii), Pagai pig-tailed macaque (Macaca pagensis), Mentawai leaf monkey (Presbytis potenziani . In addition, there are four endemic species of squirrel, 17 species of mammal and 130 species of bird, four of them endemic.

Siberut island, including Siberut National Park, has been declared by UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme as a Biosphere Reserve. Very few visitors walk through the inland parts of the Park; the main attraction so far has been the culture of the Mentawai people who live in and around the Park. The Mentawai people are among the many tribes in Indonesia who have preserved their very traditional way of life. Most of the people still adhere to animistic beliefs. Their social activities are centred around the Uma, a communal longhouse which may be occupied by 30 to 80 people.

Visiting Siberut National Park can be an unforgettable adventure, involving a combination of travelling along long rivers by boat, trekking along muddy tracks, enjoying the beauty of the tropical forest with glimpses of rare plants and animals, bathing in waterfalls, and meeting the indigenous people.

Interesting locations and Attractions: Madobak, Rokdok, Matotonan, Rorogot, Butui, Teteburuk, Selaoinan and Mailepet.
Exploring the forest, kayaking/canoeing, enjoying thermal springs, waterfalls, marine tours, observing plants and animals, and cultural visits (Uma and religious dances). Good beaches at Sagulubek and Masilok. Surfing and diving/snorkelling in the marine park or mangrove forest.

Cultural attractions outside the Park include the Gandang Tasa Festival in May and Tabuik Festival in June each year, both held in the city of Padang. Best time of year to visit is January to September.

How to reach the Park
The Park is located in Mentawaian Strait, about 155 km from Padang. The route from Padang (Muara Padang) to Muara Siberut/Muara Sikabaluan/Muara Saibi is served by ship. It departs regularly (3 times a week) from Muara Padang Port at night (19:00) and takes 10 hours of trip.

Minister of Forestry, SK No.407/Kpts-II/1993, A total area of 190,500 hectares.

Regency of Mentawai Island (Province of West Sumatra) Temperature 22° - 31° C Rainfall 2,900 - 3,700 mm/year Altitude 0 - 500 m asl. Geographical location 98°36’ - 99°03’ E; 1°05’ - 1°45’ S.

The tourism and adventure in the Siberut National Park involves a combination of boat traveling, trekking along the muddy tracks, enjoying the beauty of tropical forest including flora-fauna observation, bathing in waterfalls and observation of the indigenous people’s cultures.

Physical Condition
Geology and Soil

Siberut is a sedimentary island dominated by relatively young pebbles, sediments and marble. There are some small areas consisting of conglomeration of the pra-Miocene era that contains sista (quartz), granite and small chalk, which may be formed in the Miocene era, and some volcanic rocks, which may come from volcano explosion in Sumatra in the Miocene era. However, most of the geological shapes wereoccurred in the Pliocene, Pleistocene and Holocene eras.

The Pleistocene era is noticed by the gradual shifting of non-volcanic island in the western Sumatra. However, Mentawai Island appears to have shifted in the different era compared with Nias and Enggano islands. Since the hills have the same height, Siberut Island may have shifted as a relatively flat land, although in several areas the sedimentary lands have turned and sunk vertically.

The geological process was continued with the sinking process and was occurred along the East coast as well as the inner valley of Mentawai Island. The result of sinking process is appeared as the irregular coastal line that has many bays, peninsula, small islands and reefs. Some even formed a “false barrier reef”.

In the contrary, the West coast is rather straight and resembles a line. The West coast is directly faced the Indonesian Ocean, has less reef and is hardly accessed.
Vibration and earthquake, which sometimes occurred, were always recorded. The last Epicenter happened in 1994, which was between Sipora Island and Sumatra in the Mentawai Strait. This activity indicated geological activities of shifting and burial. The earthquake may be followed by tsunami and tidal wave. As well, there are recorded many destructions in the east coastal area affected by tsunami in the beginning of this 20th century.

The topography of Siberut area varies from flat, swampy to hilly with a steep elevation. Most of the lowland is located in the Eastern parts and consist of peat, swamp, settlement and cultivation areas with the elevation ranged from 0 to 15%. The hilly area is located in the Westernpart with the elevation ranged from 40 to 75%, with the highest peak at 384 m asl.

The Siberut Island is characterized by hot and wet equatorial climate with high rainfall and short dry season. The average annual rainfall is 3,320 m/m. The relative humidity and temperatureare generally constant, with the humidity is between 91 - 95% and the temperatures is between 22 - 310C.

The Siberut has seven types of ecosystems with various flora and fauna species:

Dipterocarp Primary Forest
Dominated by some genera, including Dipterocarpus, Shorea, Vatica, Hopea, Palaquium and Hydnocarpus.

Mixed Primary Forest
The common families in the area include Euphorbiaceae, Myristicaceae, Dilleniaceae, Dipterocarpaceae and Fabaceae.

Dipterocarp Secondary Forest
Dominated by pioneer genera such as Macaranga, Trema and Neolamarckia (a regeneration from logged-over forest).

Freshwater Swamp Forest
Dominated by Terminalia phellocarpa, while the under-storey area is dominated by palm, rattan and fern.

Mangrove Forest
Dominated by Rhizophora as the main genera which all spread over the island.

Sago Swamp Forest
It is dominated by two sago species: Metroxylon sago and Metroxylon rumphii.

Coastal Forest
The commonly found species are Casuarina equisetifolia, Barringtonia sp., Pandanus sp., and Hibiscus tiliaceus.

Estimated that around 15% of Siberut’s plants is endemic, such as Mesua cathairinae (Clusiaceae), Diospyros brevicalyx (Ebenaceae), Aporosa quadrangularis (Euphorbiaceae), Baccaurea dulcis (Euphorbiaceae), Drypetes subsymmetrica (Euphorbiaceae) and Horsfieldia macrothyrsa (Myristicaceae).
Fauna There are around 28 mammals species in which 65% of them are endemic at the genera level. The species are: bilou or mentawai gibbon (Hylobates klossii), joja or mentawai leaf monkey (Presbytis potenziani siberu), simakobu or pig-tailed snub-nosed monkey (Simias concolor siberu), bokoi or mentawai macaque (Macaca pagensis), sambar deer (Cervus unicolor equinus), and 4 species of endemic treeshrew.
Around 106 bird species are found in the National Park, with 12% of them (13 species) has sub species. Some of them are mentawai scops-owl (Otus mentawi), which is the only endemic bird species in the island, storm’s stork (Ciconia stormi), wallace’s hawk-eagle (Spizaetus nanus nanus), sumatran drongo (Dicrurus sumatranus), and large-green pigeon (Treron capellei).
There are 21 reptile species, such as anglehead lizard (Gonocephalus herveyi), olive tree skink (Dasia olivacea), banded malayan coral snake (Maticora intestinalis lineata), common mock viper (Psammodynastes pulverulentus), indonesian tree-viper (Trimeresurus hageni); siberut frog (Rana signata siberut) – endemic species,harlequin tree frog (Rhacophorus pardalis), kuhl’s creek frog (Limnonectes kuhlii), collett’s tree frog (Polypedates colletti),and saint andrew’s cross toad (Pelophryne brevipes).
Based on the research taken in 1999, there are54 insect genera identified including 11 families or 29,4% genera and 5,9% of world’s insect families in this island. The species includes Batocera thomsoni, Diatocera wallichi, Prothoe franck phameralis, and Delias hyparete hypopelia.

Interesting Objects
To get to the recreation objects, visitor may take speed boat or sampan, then go by foot through muddy tracks in the forest. During the trip the visitor can observe some flora and fauna that inhabit the forest. In Madobak village, visitor will also find the Ulukubuk waterfall, which is sacred for the local people.
Marine Tour
The other common activity for Siberut’s visitors is surfing in Nyang-nyang and Karang Islands; as well, snorkeling, swimming, fishing and enjoying the beautiful white sandy beach.
A place for gathering and bird nesting is in Saplap Island that is located in Saliguma Village. This activity can also be done in the forests or along the river.
Primate Observation
One of the Siberut’s attractions is observation of the unique primate species such as mentawai leaf monkey, pig-tailed snub-nosed monkey and mentawai macaque. The location for this activity is in the Intensive Utilization Zone of Siberut National Park that is located in Simabugai.
Canoeing and Kayaking
Not only sport, through this activity the visitors are also offered the beautiful view of forest and wildlife along the river.
Mangrove Trekking
The conditions of relatively good mangrove forests and the wildlife in it are another interesting objects to enjoy.
Education and Research
The biodiversity of endangered and endemic flora-fauna and the unique of Mentawainese’s cultures are interesting for research and education.
The cultural attraction
It is including the daily life of Mentawai people in their traditional house (Uma, Rusuk and Sapou). The visitor can observe the traditional activities of local communities such as sago making and cooking, hunting, poison making, tattoo, ‘kabit’ (traditional pants) making, and traditional ceremonies.