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Ujung Kulon National Park

October 9, 2012

This national park, located in the extreme south-western tip of Java on the Sunda shelf, includes the Ujung Kulon peninsula and several offshore islands and encompasses the natural reserve of Krakatoa. In addition to its natural beauty and geological interest – particularly for the study of inland volcanoes – it contains the largest remaining area of lowland rainforests in the Java plain. Several species of endangered plants and animals can be found there, the Javan rhinoceros being the most seriously under threat.

Ujung Kulon National Park lies on the extreme south-western tip of Java within the administrative province of Java Barat (West Java) and the Kebupaten of Pandeglang.

Ujung Kulon is a triangular peninsula protruding from the south-west extremity of mainland Java, to which it is joined by a low isthmus some 1-2 km wide. The topography is dominated in the south-west by the three north-south aligned ridges of the Gunung Payung massif, with the peaks of Gunung Payung, Gunung Guhabendang and Gunung Cikuja forming the highest points on the peninsula. To the north-east, the relief attenuates to the low rolling hills and plains of the Telanca Plateau, and ultimately to the low-lying swamps in the region of the isthmus. To the east, the Gunung Honje massif forms the mainland component of the park. Coastal formations include a number of raised coral islands and their associated fringing reefs which lie off the northern coast of the peninsula, the largest of these being Pulau Handeuleum. To the south, the coastline is characterized by sand dune formations, areas of raised coral reef, and further west a long stretch of undermined and shattered sandstone slabs. Extensive coral reefs and spectacular volcanic formations occur along the exposed and broken west coast.

Geologically, Ujung Kulon, Gunung Honje and Pulau Panaitan are part of a young Tertiary mountain system, which overlies the pre-Tertiary strata of the Sunda Shelf. Lying on the edge of the tectonically active Sunda Shelf, Krakatau Nature Reserve comprises the central island of Anak Krakatau (child of Krakatau), and the peripheral islands of Rakata, Payang and Sertung with their surrounding coral reefs. These peripheral islands form the remnants of a single volcano (‘Ancient Krakatau’) which exploded and collapsed some 1,500 years ago leaving three remnant cones.

Vegetation has been subject to a number of anthropogenic and natural modifications, of which the most notable is the Krakatau eruption of 1883. As a result, primary lowland rainforest, the natural vegetation cover, now occupies only 50% of the total area, being largely confined to the Gunung Payung and Honje massifs.

A tall closed canopy forest occurs on Gunung Payung, on Pulau Peucang; vegetation of the Telanca Plateau and central lowlands is a more open secondary forest. Occurring along the northern promontory of Ujung Kulon near Tanjung, alang-alang is a seasonally inundated freshwater swamp forest. Mangrove forest occurs in a broad belt along the northern side of the isthmus, extending northwards as far as the Cikalong River, as well as to the north of Pulau Handeuleum and on the north-east coast of Pulau Panaitan. Beach forest occurs on nutrient-poor sandy ridges on the north and north-west coasts of Ujung Kulon.

Ujung Kulon is the last remaining viable natural refuge for Javan rhinoceros; Javan tiger was locally extirpated about 40 years ago. Other notable mammals include carnivores, such as leopard, wild dog (dhole), leopard cat, fishing cat, Javan mongoose and several civets. Of the primates, the endemic species Javan gibbon and Javan leaf monkey occur locally along with the endemic silvered leaf monkey, while crab-eating macaque is found throughout the park. Several ungulates range within the park, of which the largest and most abundant is banteng. A rich avifauna is present with over 270 species recorded. Terrestrial reptiles and amphibians include two species of python, as well as two crocodiles and numerous frogs and toads. Green turtle is known to nest within the park.

The rich coral reefs of the Ujung Kulon coast are dominated by a small number of species that make up some 90% of the coral mass; the marine areas of Ujung Kulon support some of the richest fish fauna in the archipelago, with both deep water and reef species well represented.

Pulau Panaitan has a Ganesha statue on the summit of Mount Raksa, an early Hindu archaeological relic from the 1st century AD, and the island is thought to have been an important staging post for sailing ships passing through the Sunda Straits. Captain James Cook is known to have anchored HMS Endeavour on the south-eastern side of Panaitan Island from 6-16 January 1771.

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