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 rainforests, 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 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.
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.
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.
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 palm oil plantations and timber estates is taking critical habitat away from all forms of biodiversity.
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.