THE BIODIVERSITY OF LABANAN TROPICAL RAINFOREST
Far in depths of the tropical rain forest in northern Kalimantan, the Centre for Orangutan Protection is in the process of building an Orangutan Rescue Centre in the Special Purpose Forest Conservation district (KHDTK) which is governed by government institute DIPTEROCARPA. The conditions in the Labanan rain forest are ideal for rehabilitating orangutan and any other species which requires special attention before being returned to the wild. The Labanan tropical rainforest is lowland forest and as a result its characteristics and complex biodiversity, differs from other types of forest. In the Labanan rain forest there are several lakes and karst caves which add to the complexity of the ecosystem in an area.
It would be interesting to undertake research into the biodiversity found in Labanan rain forest as to date, not enough has been done. Results from observations and surveys show that the Labanan rain forest has the highest level of diversity in the Dipterocarpaceae plant family as 8 of the 9 species of plant in this family grow in Labanan rain forest. Dipterocarpa is a tall tree with a large canopy which dominates the whole rainforest in the Kalimantan region.
Apart from plants from the Dipterocarpaceae family, there are also dense red durian forests Durio sp. with long spikes. Here also the consumable Rambai fruit can be found. Plants from the Liana family (climber plants) are also commonly found entwined around the trunks of large trees in the forest. Several species of plants from this family can be of use if a person becomes lost in the forest, as when the trunk of this plant is cut, the water obtained from it can be drunk.
Apart from the diversity in flora, Labanan rain forest is also home to a significant variety of fauna. With reddish fur all over its body which is in significant contrast to its environment, the proboscis monkey (Presbitys rubicunda) is an interesting example of this. The proboscis monkey is often visibly active in the highest tree canopy looking for food with its colony.
Other primates which live in the Labanan rain forest include a species of gibbon (Hylobates agilis). Gibbons are primates which are rarely seen due to their shyness and tendency towards a solitary life. Gibbons often calls out in the morning and afternoon to mark their territory and their call can be heard for a distance of 4 km around it. In the highest part of the canopy several species of Hornbill can be found, one of which is the largest Hornbill, the Ivory Hornbill (Bucerros rhinoceros) with its characteristic black body and a beak and horn on the base of its beak which is yellow red.
On the rainforest floor, several species of fauna can often be seen, amongst them are what foreigners refer to as the mouse deer (Tragulus javanicus). The mouse deer is the smallest type of deer with a brown body which resembles the colour of deer generally. Mouse deer are nocturnal and although they are active at night, they are also often seen in the afternoon. Their main food source consists of fruit and several varieties of plants. Apart from mouse deer, (Mutiacus muntjak), pangolins (Manis javanicus), sambar deer (Russa unicolor), Bears (Ursus malayanus) dan clouded leopards (Neofelis diardi) inhabit the primary rain forest di the Labanan region. In addition to species of mammals, the Labanan rain forest also is home to one of the most beautiful species of pheasants (Argussina argus), which inhabits the rainforest floor.
The Labanan tropical rain forest also has a significantly high amount of herpetofauna diversity. Herpetofauna is fauna which includes reptile and amphibian families. As proven by scientific research previously undertaken, many species of amphibians inhabit the forest floor and the various water sources found here. Rhacoporus or the flying frog family can be found in the evening. This frog has membrane on its feet which enable it to glide. One type of flying frog which can be found in this rain forest is Rhacoporus pardalis. However, a variety of other species of tree frog can also be found including Polypedates otilopus, characteristically this frog has a large body with a large, prominent cephalotorax head and has black stripes traversing part of its back legs.
A variety of reptile species can also be found in the KHDTK region and several reptiles are endemic or only found in Kalimantan. A type of chameleon from the genus (Gonochepalus sp.) for example, are amongst several species which are endemic to Kalimantan and this chameleon differs significantly from species of chameleon that are found in other areas. Apart from species of chameleon, the Labanan forest is also home to several types of soundless forest gecko from the genus (Cyrtodactylus sp.) many of which are found in the Labanan forest region and are endemic to Kalimantan. The Python (Phyton reticulatus) dan Biawak lizard (Varanus salvator) are yet another type of reptile which resides in this region.
It is the same with the river and lake ecosystems in the Labanan region in which the Cork or Snake head fish can easily be found along with a variety of types of cat fish (Hemibagrus sp., Mystus sp.) and several species of fish from the Betta sp. genus. In the small estuaries, fish from the Rasbora sp. and Puntius sealei can live safely. The existence of these fish are an indicator that the water conditions in the Labanan region remain unaffected by pollutants from human activity. The Labanan tropical rain forest is a complex yet susceptible ecosystem which must be protected. Without the existence of the Labanan tropical rain forest, several species of flora and fauna would become extinct and this this would have a negative impact on the balance of the ecosystem