Lesser Sunda Islands, indonesia, archipelago, Sulawesi, Moluccas, Bali, Lombok, Sumbawa, Sumba, Flores, Timor, Alor, Kelimutu, Komodo, Padar, Rinca, Rinjani, West Bali, Bali Starling, Laiwangi Langgaweti, Crab-eating Macaque, Manupeu Tanah Daru, Yellow-crested Cockcatoo
Lesser Sunda Islands are group of islands in the southeastern part of Indonesia archipelago. They are located to the south of Sulawesi and the Moluccas and to the north of Australia. Most of the islands are part of Indonesia with a minor territory belonging to the country of Timor Leste. The major islands include Bali, Lombok, Sumbawa, Sumba, Flores, Timor and Alor. As part of a volcanic arc, the islands are dominated by volcanoes that form the landscape and provide perfect environment for hundreds of species of plants and animals.
Kelimutu National Park
Located on the island of Flores, Indonesia, Kelimutu National Park consists of sub-montane and montane forests. The main attraction in the park is Mount Kelimutu. At the top of the mount, there are three crater lakes with varying colors. The colors change periodically. The lake at the west is named Tiwu Ata Mbupu or the Lake of Old People. It is usually blue but occasionally turns into dark green or black. Tiwu Nuwa Nuri or the Lake of Young People is located at the east. Its color is continually changed from green to cyan and vice versa. The last lake, Tiwu Ata Polo or Bewitched Lake is sometimes red and sometimes dark green. For local people, the lakes are sacred; they are the home of the death. Scientists believe that the changing color is the result of chemical reaction between particular minerals and volcanic gases. The summit of Mount Kelimutu is a perfect place to witness sunrise.
Besides the breathtaking sight of the lakes, Kelimutu National Park also has high biodiversity and acts as sanctuary for several endangered species of plants and animals. Inside the park’s arboretum (mini jungle) 76 species of trees are cultivated. This four hectares area is also the best place to enjoy bird songs in the morning. The most famous bird is the protected species of Flores Pigeon.
Komodo National Park
Komodo National Park comprises of three large islands and 26 small islands. The large islands are Komodo, Padar and Rinca. The islands located at the southeastern tip of Indonesia, near the island of Flores. The rock star in the park as well as on the island is of course the Komodo dragon, a giant lizard from dinosaurs’ era. The national park was originally founded in 1980 to protect this exceptional species. In its development, the park provides protection not only to Komodo but also to other marine and terrestrial animals such as whales, rays, blue-ringed octopus, sharks, snakes, friarbirds, bullfrogs and many others. Komodo National park has beautiful and extensive coral reef which is considered as one of the riches marine environments on the planet. Vegetations include savannah and coastal plants including algae, sea grasses and mangroves. The park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991 and in 2011 it was also included in the controversial list of the New Seven Wonders of Nature.
Rinjani National Park
Located on the island of Lombok, a small island to the east of the famous Bali Island, Rinjani National Park centers around Mount Rinjani, the highest active volcano on the island and the third highest in Indonesia. At the top of Mount Rinjani lies a sulphurous smelling crater lake called Segara Anak. The park covers a total area of more than 40 hectares. The topography varies from savannah, sub-montane forest to montane forest. Species endemic to the park is Rinjani Civet. Other distinctive animals living in the park are rusa deer, Sunda Porcupine, ebony leaf monkey, Timor Helmeted Friarbird, barking deer and some species of reptiles. Protected endangered plants in the park include big leaf mahogany, and several species of orchids and edelweiss. Popular activities are mountain climbing, bird watching, camping and sulphur bathing. Cultural festivals are held on certain occasion.
West Bali National Park
Established in 1941, West Bali National Park covers an area of almost 200 square kilometers. The park covers areas of savannah, mangrove forest, montane forest, monsoon forest, lowland forest, sandy beaches, coral reefs, deep sea waters and small islands. Located on the island of Bali, the park is a popular tourist destination. The mascot of this park is the endangered species of Bali Starling, a beautiful white bird known locally as the “jalak bali”. The park is also the home to the last wild buffaloes. The protected marine areas of the park contain more than 100 species of corals and fishes. Endangered plants growing in the park include sandalwood, burahol, bayur and Indian rosewood. In addition to the Bali Starling, there are 160 other species of birds living in the park. Most of them are sea and shore birds. Land animals found in the park are wild boar, leopard, flying fox, giant squirrel and many others. Many visitors enjoy bird watching and snorkeling in the area.
Laiwangi Langgaweti National Park
Located on the island of Sumba, a small island to the south of Flores Island, Laiwangi Langgaweti National Park is the natural habitat of many species of lizards, snakes, birds and the famous Crab-eating Macaque. The Species of birds endemic to the island are Sumba Green Pigeon, Sumba Flycatcher and Sumba Cicadabird. The park comprises of different types of forests ranging from sub-montane to alpine forest. Some of the protected vegetations are Syzygium, a kind of apple known locally as “jambu hutan”; Alstonia scholaris (commonly known as blackboard); Ficus, a kind of fig tree and cinnamon.
Manupeu Tanah Daru National Park
Also located on Sumba Island, the mountainous Manupeu Tanah Daru National Park covers an area of lowland monsoon forest. The topography mostly consists of steeply slopes. The forest is natural habitat of 87 species of endangered birds, 57 species of butterflies and 118 species of protected plants. The birds endemic to the island are among others, Sumba Green Pigeon, Sumba Cicadabirds, Sumba Yellow-crested Cockatoo and Sumba Hornbill. The last two species are on the brink of extinction. The endemic plants include tamarind, evergreen, kemiri, lantana and Spanish flag.