Like Sumatra and Java, Kalimantan Island is rich in natural resources. Located in the centre of Indonesian archipelago, the island comprises of very diverse ecosystem. Several national parks established on the island provide protection for various species of endangered animal.
Kayan Mentarang National Park
Located on “Apau Kayan” mountain trails plateau at the border between Indonesia and Malaysia, Kayan Mentarang National Park is the largest untouched rainforest on Kalimantan Island. With a total area of 1.6 million hectares, the park mainly consists of lowland rainforest. This park is the home of some protected species of mammal and bird including Bornean Gibbon, ProboscisMonkey, Clouded Leopard and Rhinoceros Hornbill. Thousands of people of the local tribes of Dayak and Punam often make their settlement inside the park. They live from shifting cultivation and hunting wildlife. Visitors may sometimes stay in their settlement.
Tanjung Putting National Park
Tanjung Putting National Park is the natural habitat of the famous endangered species of orangutan, a species of ape that bears close genetic relation with human. For the rehabilitation of orangutan, four research centers have been established in the park. 29 species of mammal, 200 species of bird and 17 species of reptile endemic to the island of Kalimantan such as gibbons, leopard, hornbills, monitor lizard and pythons also make their home within this national park. Totaling more than 400 thousand hectares, the park forms the largest protected swamp forest in South East Asia. The ecosystems consist of dry land, swamp, heath, mangrove and coastal forest. In 1977, the park is declared as UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Today, illegal mining, illegal logging and land conversion have damaged 40% of the total area of the park.
Kutai National Park
Lies to the north of the famous Mahakam River on the eastern coast of the island of Kalimantan only minutes away from the equator, Kutai National Park provides natural habitat for around two thousand Orangutans and several rare species of mammal, reptile and bird including the Malayan Bear, Proboscis Monkey and Sun Bird. The park is also the home of local tribe of Bugis. With total area of over 2,000 square kilometers, at least, there are four big lakes in the Park: Besar, Maau, Santan and Sirapan. Varieties of ecosystems include lowland rain forest, freshwater swamp and mangrove forest. The area of the forest had been protected since 1970s and in 1982 it was established as a national park. Despite its conservatory status, illegal logging continues to pose major threat on the survival of the park. In addition to human encroachment, a great fire occurred in 1982 had also destroyed almost 60% of the forest.
Betung Kerihun National Park
Located in West Kalimantan Province, Betung Kerihun National Park, like othernational parks located on the island, provides natural habitat for Orangutans. Sitting on some 800 square kilometers of mountainous area, the parks comprises of two main ecosystems the lowland and montane rainforest with Mount Kerihun as the highest peak. Besides the Orangutans, at least 300 species of bird, 162 species of fish, 54 species of mammals, 97 species of orchid, and 49 species of palm tree live and grow inside the park. A great Kapuas River flowing through the park is making this park particularly attractive as human inhabitant. Several local tribes called the Dayak people establish 12 villages inside or adjacent to the park. Nowadays human encroachment and the poaching of Orangutans had reached alarming level.
Sabangau National Park
Sabangan National Park is located around three black water rivers: the Sabangau, Kahayan and Katingan River. The national park is under the administration of Central Kalimantan Province. The swamp forest protects diverse tropical trees and varieties of endangered wildlife. The park is also the home for the largest Orangutan population. A rare species of Agile Gibbons The eastern part of the forest once had been converted for agricultural purpose. But this project was failed and the forest is now in damaged condition.
Danau Sentarum National Park
Centered around a several great connected basins flooded with seasonal tropical rain called Lake Sentarum in West Kalimantan Province, Danau Sentarum National Park is the home of one of the world’s most diverse lake ecosystem. The location is quite remote and close to Malaysian border. The parks mainly comprises of lakes, freshwater swamp forest and peat swamp forest. 240 species of fish had been found living in the lake, including the exotic Clown Loach Botia and Asian Arowana. At least 143 species of mammal including the endangered Orangutans, 237 species of bird and 26 species of mammals make their home within the park. The local tribe of Iban builds houses on the edge of the lake. The houses are long. A single house can accommodate 14 households or around 100 residents.
Gunung Palung National Park
Located in West Kalimantan Province, Gunung Palung National Park has the most diverse types of ecosystem from swamp forest, mangrove, freshwater swamp, lowland to montane forest. The national park is famous for its Orangutans conservation research station established to preserve the existence of this endangered species. 10% of world’s population of orangutans lives within this park. Illegal logging and wildfire are serious problems in the park.