Indonesia Cave Reveals Historic Tsunamis

Tsunamis Nothing New To Indonesia

A cave discovered near the source of Indonesia’s massive earthquake-spawned tsunami contains the footprints of past gigantic waves dating up to 7,500 years ago, a rare natural record that suggests the next disaster could be centuries away — or perhaps only decades.

The findings provide the longest and most detailed timeline for tsunamis that have occurred off the far western tip of Sumatra island in Aceh province. That’s where 30-metre waves triggered by a magnitude-9.1 earthquake on Dec. 26, 2004, killed 230,000 people in several countries, more than half of them in Indonesia.

surf Sumatra

The limestone cave, located within a couple meters of the coast near Banda Aceh, is about one meter above knee-high tide and protected from storms and wind. Only huge waves that inundate the coastal area are able to gush inside.

Researchers in 2011 uncovered seabed sand deposits that were swept into the cave over thousands of years and neatly layered between bat droppings like a geological cake. Radiocarbon analysis of materials, including clamshells and the remains of microscopic organisms, provided evidence of 11 tsunamis before 2004.

The disasters were by no means evenly spaced, said lead researcher Charles Rubin from the Earth Observatory of Singapore. The last one occurred about 2,800 years ago, but there were four others in the preceding 500 years.

Indonesia tourism

And it’s possible there were others. Researchers know, for instance, that there were two mammoth earthquakes in the region around 1393 and 1450. Rubin said a big tsunami could have carried away evidence of other events through erosion. The scientists are still working to determine the size of the waves that entered the cave.

“The take-home message is perhaps that the 2004 event doesn’t mean it won’t happen for another 500 years,” said Rubin, who added that the cave was discovered by chance and not part of planned field work. “We did see them clustered together closer in time. I wouldn’t put out a warning that we’re going to have an earthquake, but it shows that the timing is really variable.”

Sulawesi sunset

The quake that triggered the 2004 tsunami surprised scientists because the fault that unleashed the megathrust temblor had been quiet for hundreds of years. And since the last big earthquake had struck more than 500 years earlier, there was no surviving oral history that could have helped people understand the risk.

Since 2004, much research has been done to try to learn about the area’s past by examining sand deposits, uplifted coral and GPS data.

“The findings are very significant,” Katrin Monecke, a geosciences professor at Wellesley College in Massachusetts wrote in an email. She worked on tsunami sand deposits discovered in marshes in the area, but was not involved with the cave research, which was presented this month at an American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco. “The sand sheets in the cave cover a very long time span and give an excellent idea about earthquake frequency.”

Despite the long record preserved in the cave, Rubin said it did not provide any clear clues about tsunami frequency or when events might happen in a relatively close period of time.

Indonesia beaches

Geologist Kerry Sieh, director of the Singapore group and also part of the cave investigation, has predicted that another monster quake could rock the area in the next few decades. They tend to come in cycles and the 2004 temblor heaped more pressure on the fault. However, the history is so variable, it’s impossible to make an exact forecast.

“By learning about the type of tsunamis that happened in the past, maybe we can do planning for mitigation for the next tsunami,” said Nazli Ismail, head of the physics and geophysics department at Syiah Kuala University in Banda Aceh who worked on the project.

Indonesia is an archipelago located on the so-called “Ring of Fire,” a horseshoe of fault lines and volcanoes surrounding the Pacific Basin. It is home to some of the world’s biggest and deadliest seismic activity.

Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/sci-tech/indonesia-cave-reveals-tsunamis-dating-back-7-500-years-at-2004-site-1.1606582#ixzz2oaq3zzBr

Indonesia tourism marketing and public relations firm

Crossbow Communications specializes in international marketing, issue management and public affairs. Indonesia is one of our regions of expertise. Our President and founder is the author of the Language and Travel Guide to Indonesia. Please contact Gary Chandler at gary@crossbow1.com. Visit Indonesia.

Language and Travel Guide To Indonesia

Travel Book Benefits Indonesia’s Wildlife

Language and Travel Guide Defending Endangered Species

Indonesia straddles the Asian and Australian continental plates which generates abundant diversity among plant and animal life. This location also creates a stunning contrast of topographies and ecologies from east to west. You will find mist-shrouded volcanoes, glacier-topped mountains, unexplored rain forests, thousands of miles of beaches and endless coral reefs. This diverse land also supports an abundance of wildlife, which makes Indonesia a rewarding destination for photographers.

Indonesia orangutan conservation

Indonesia has just one percent of the world’s land area, but this country is home to more than 10 percent of all mammal species and 17 percent of all birds. Indonesia has more known mammal species than any other country in the world. It also has more endangered mammals than any other country, including the endangered orangutan, Javan rhinoceros, Komodo dragon, Sumatran tiger, and Sumatran elephant.

Sumatra tiger conservation

Indonesia is home to leopards, king cobras, hornbills, proboscis monkeys, sun bears, wild boars, and hundreds of other rare and fascinating creatures. Scientists are still discovering several new species each year, especially on Borneo and in the highlands of Papua.

The large mammals of western Indonesia arrived from the north when the islands were covered with dense jungle. They remain only where lowland forest is still intact. The greatest threat to their existence, other than poaching, is the clearing of forest for agriculture and intensive logging. 

orangutan and tiger habitat Sumatra

Most visitors to Indonesia hope to see the Sumatran tiger. However, this beautiful animal rarely shows itself. Unfortunately, human development has already pushed two other tiger species in Indonesia into extinction. The Javan tiger was declared extinct in 1994 and the Balinese tiger was last seen several decades before that. Fewer than 300 Sumatran tigers are left in the wild and the number is dropping steadily.

Indonesia forest conservation

If habitat destruction and poaching across Asia are not stopped, wild tigers have just a few years to survive. Tiger bones and body parts are sold on the black market for use in traditional Chinese medicines. This demand alone is putting tremendous pressure on these beautiful animals. The conversion of pristine forest into pam oil plantations and timber estates is taking critical habitat away from all forms of biodiversity.

Way Kambas Sumatran elephants

Meanwhile, the forests where they live are being destroyed for timber, mining, and farming. Each animal needs up to 20 square miles to survive and forests are a vanishing resource in many regions.

Language and Travel Guide To Indonesia

Did you know that Sumatra is the only place in the world where you can find elephants, rhinos and tigers sharing similar habitat? Do you know that there are only about 300 tigers left on Sumatra? The tiger was exterminated from Bali and Java.

Gary R. Chandler

The author of this great travel resource is a defender of wildlife. All profits benefit wildlife conservation programs across Indonesia, including orangutans, tigers, Asian elephants and more. Please order your copy today and visit these endangered species tomorrow.

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Indonesia tourism marketing and public relations firm

Crossbow Communications specializes in international marketing, issue management and public affairs. Indonesia is one of our regions of expertise. Our President and founder is the author of the Language and Travel Guide to Indonesia. Please contact Gary Chandler at gary@crossbow1.com. Visit Indonesia.

Can Ecotourism Save The Orangutan & Sumatran Tiger

Indonesia’s Endangered Species

‘We were in Indonesia‘s rainforest for fifteen hours and spent eleven of those waist-deep in a swamp looking at orangutans’. Trekking through the swamps and rainforests of Kalimantan may not be everyone’s idea of a fun and relaxing holiday, but to an increasing number of ecotourists there is no better way to spend a couple of weeks.

After speaking with a group of ecotourists, recently returned from Tanjung Puting National Park in Central Kalimantan, their motivations for going became clear. They went in search of adventure, excitement and, most of all, orangutans. Daily treks through Tanjung Puting, in search of wild orangutans, and active involvement in data collection and habitat surveys, turned the ecotourists into willing volunteers.

Indonesia orangutan conservation

Babies

The treks were long and arduous, but the group remained determined. Some did not even get to see any wild orangutans, yet still they trekked for hours in search of them. Others saw many. Margaret, an ecotourist from Western Australia, said that her group found one orangutan with an infant within an hour of going into the jungle. ‘We were very lucky. We stood for four hours under two trees, watching them eating the fruit. It was great to see. We also took very detailed notes on the habitat and the orangutan’, she said.

The group also came into close contact with the rehabilitant orangutans at the Ministry of Forestry’s (MoF) feeding station. Although not officially permitted, holding the rehabilitant orangutans was the highlight of the trip for most of the ecotourists.

Australian ecotourist Terry likened the experience to nursing a human child. ‘We ended up carrying the babies around. They just run up and hug you and want to be carried’, he said. For Judith the experience was more profound: ‘I cried when I got to hold them. To me it was such an honour to accomplish one of my goals.’

Birutie Galdikas Camp Leakey Indonesia

Lesson

Canadian anthropologist Dr Birute Galdikas oversees the non-government Tanjung Puting tours. For her, ecotourism is not just about cuddling baby orangutans. She ensures there is a strong emphasis on raising awareness about the plight of the critically endangered orangutan. She does this by involving the ecotourists in the collection of data, and by arranging lectures and trips to see local Dayak villages and areas of deforestation. This last is a sobering lesson.

 

The deforestation they saw astounded all the ecotourists. ‘Oh, the destruction! We went up to the gold mine, just outside Tanjung Puting, and that was so important to see because there was so much destruction there’, said Australian ecotourist, Ros. ‘The river, the logging, the records we kept, all those things were reinforcing all the time about the habitat destruction and the invasion of western civilisation’.

Others began to see the futility of efforts to save the orangutan if their habitat was continuing to be destroyed. ‘People are working to rehabilitate them, but the government and companies are chopping the trees down’, said Gordon, another ecotourist from Western Australia. Gordon was involved in an orangutan rescue during his stay at Tanjung Puting. ‘It’s illegal to log in the forest where we were, but you see the rafts full of logs every day. Yes, they all want to save the orangutan’, Gordon went on, ‘but even as we left in January the papers were saying Indonesia is going to increase its export of timber to help its balance of payments. We went two thirds of the way across Kalimantan to save four orangutans and put them back into Camp Leakey. But at the other end they are chopping the trees down’.

Pay for itself

Ecotourists’ desire to see orangutans in the wild have not been lost on the Indonesian government. Nor has the possibility that ecotourism offers as a conservation tool that, theoretically at least, pays for itself. Andi Mappisammeng, Director General of Tourism, says: ‘Ecotourism can be a great ally of conservation efforts. It can encourage love of nature as more people seek solitude with nature. It can also provide a self-financing mechanism for the conservation of the natural heritage through proper management and ecological control.’

TOPSHOTS-INDONESIA-ENVIRONMENT-CONSERVATION-SPECIES-ORANGUTAN

Echoing such sentiments, the government has resolved to establish more orangutan ecotourism centres in Kalimantan. At present, Tanjung Puting is the only orangutan centre open to ecotourism. But there are plans for ecotourism centres at Sungai Wain and at Kutai National Park in East Kalimantan.

The dilemma for ecotourism planners in Indonesia, as anywhere, is to ensure that they achieve a balance of economic, social and ecological control. To date, however, a lack of political will and commitment to achieving genuine sustainable development has flawed the government’s conservation record.

Priority

Economic and political concerns take priority over ecological ones. How strong really is the government’s desire to establish an enterprise that is truly sustainable? Indonesia’s forests are among the nation’s most valuable resources, second only to oil. Business people both overseas and within Indonesia constantly lobby the government to win the right to exploit them.

Some of the wealthiest people in the country have lucrative shares in logging concessions and timber processing companies. Most are closely connected with President Suharto – his children Siti Hardiyanti, Sigit Harjojudanto and Bambang Trihatmodjo, and other well-connected people such as Bob Hasan, Liem Sioe Liong, Sukanto Tanoto and Prajogo Pangestu.

The vast wealth and power that comes from this industry results in huge rewards offered in return for political favours that see certain companies and/ or individuals granted resource concessions over other bidders.

orangutan and tiger habitat Sumatra

Kalimantan

If we examine the situation of protected areas in Kalimantan we will see how economic and political interests are favoured over conservation values. The total land area of Kalimantan is 536,150 km2. Of this, 20,338 km2 of forest has been set aside for protection. In reality, however, logging and other forms of human encroachment continue to threaten the future of many of Kalimantan’s protected areas.

For example, in South Kalimantan 60% of conservation forests and 35% of protected forests have been grossly deforested. A case in point comes from the Pleihari Wildlife Reserve, which the MoF has converted into production forest for logging. This was the last remaining habitat of the barking deer.

Another example comes from the Bukit Baka/ Bukit Raya National Park. This ecologically rich stretch of rainforest was split down the middle by the logging company Kurina Kapaus Plywood. Then-Minister of Forestry, Hasrul Harahap, granted the logging concession.

Examples can also be found in the proposed and established orangutan ecotourism areas. In and around the 3,040 km2 of Tanjung Puting National Park, mining and logging companies and human settlements have destroyed many forested areas. In fact, although the official Tanjung Puting guidebook states that it remains substantially wild and natural, the Directorate General for Forest Protection and Nature (Phpa) has argued that pressures from transmigrants and oil, gas and gold mines on the park’s border have caused extensive deforestation. In 1989 the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (Iucn) listed Tanjung Puting National Park as a protected region in danger.

Indonesia forest conservation

Kutai

At Kutai National Park the deforestation is just as alarming. Although Kutai is only 200,000 hectares it is regarded as one of the most important parks in the world, particularly in terms of its biodiversity value. Kutai is under extreme pressure, however. Mining and logging interests are literally camped at its doorstep, and local and migrant communities continue to clear vast areas of forest for crops. Approximately 100,000 hectares of the park has already been deforested.

The Sungai Wain nature reserve in East Kalimantan, the 11,000 ha release site for rehabilitated orangutans from the MoF/PHPA Wanariset Reintroduction Centre, has been subject to similar pressures. The oil company Vico has cut many lines through the forest for seismic probes and has cleared a large area for use as a helipad. Communities in the surrounding areas also use the forest regularly for their subsistence needs.

Negotiations are currently in place to have Sungai Wain upgraded to national park status so that orangutan ecotourism may begin. As we have seen, however, national park status will not automatically ensure forest protection.

Enclosure

These examples highlight another major obstacle to the success of sustainable orangutan ecotourism. That is, the use of protected areas by local communities. Obviously, to ensure forest conservation, limits need to be placed upon all forms of human access and use of these areas. However, it is the manner in which governments enforce this forest protection that will ultimately determine the success of conservation efforts.

The traditional solution to ecological protection in Indonesia has been to enclose specified areas, in the hope of limiting human activity. Ironically, if the government were to succeed in adequately protecting the forest in this way, the results would be devastating for human communities dependent upon the forest for their survival.

More often, however, the government is not successful in completely enclosing protected areas. As a result, environmental protection is limited, because disenfranchised groups continue to use forest resources illegally and unsustainably. This has certainly been the case since the enclosure of Tanjung Puting, Sungai Wain and Kutai National Park.

Whether the forest exploitation is to meet subsistence needs or for short-term commercial gains, these illegal uses further deplete the habitat of the orangutan while, in the long term, adding to human poverty as forest resources decline.

Incentives

Incentives for local communities to protect and conserve the environment are vital if the Indonesian government is serious about the promotion of orangutan ecotourism. Genuine socio-economic incentives, control over the direction and size of the ecotourism development and control over the possible impacts would empower local communities making them willing actors rather than reluctant subjects.

Planned correctly, ecotourism can help conserve the orangutan and Sumatra’s tigers. This outcome depends on appropriate levels of management, a supportive political climate and commitment to achieving conservation and social participation at the local level.

Source: http://www.insideindonesia.org/weekly-articles/ecotourism-can-it-save-the-orangutans

Indonesia tourism marketing and public relations firm

Crossbow Communications specializes in international marketing, issue management and public affairs. Indonesia is one of our regions of expertise. Our President and founder is the author of the Language and Travel Guide to Indonesia. Please contact Gary Chandler at gary@crossbow1.com. Visit Indonesia.

Language and Travel Guide To Indonesia