ACEH TENGGARA (South East Aceh)
The total population of regency Aceh Tenggara is around 200,000 people. The majority of these are onentrated around Kutacane, Blangkejeren
and other smaller towns in the region. The main ethnic groups inhabiting the regency are Alas and Gayo.
Beside those people, Batak, Javanese and Minangkabau also live here. The local dialecs are Alas and Gayo and are the medium
of conversation for most people. English is only spoken by a few in Kutacane and Blangkejeren. The dominant religion is Islam (Moslem), while some residents,
particularly the Bataks that originate from Tapanuli Utara (North Tapanuli) are christian.
The Leuser Ecosystem contains coastal beaches, lowland swamps, degraded lowland rain forest and extensive pristine mountain forest and isolated alpine meadows.
Much of the area is rugged and inacccesible. It inludes two major vulcanoes, three lakes and thirteen major river systems. It has a mix of various habitats, which give
Leuser Ecosystem its extraordinary biological richness. Geologically, the mountains are composed of ligneous, sedimentary, volccanic and platonic rock.
The soil is dominated by brown podsolic complex, podsolic and litosol which generally good ground for nature preservation. The area has altitude of between 0 metres level (in
Kluet) to more than 3,000 metres (at the top of Leuser) above sealevel. The rainfall is between 2000 and 3000 mm per year and without an apparent dry seasson.
The average temperature is at minimum 21,1 ºC and maximum 27,5 ºC with relative humidity at about 60 to 100 %.
The Leuser ecosystem is one one of largest and richest national parks in the World. It cover an area of more than one million hectares, strething out more than 100 kilometres along
the Bukit Barisan mountain range. The regency Aceh tenggara is almost totally covered by park. Leuser Ecosystem has become known among biologist as the most complete natural
laboratory in the world. For any one that loves nature, Gunung Leuser Ecosystem is must.
The Leuser Ecosystem is unique in Indonesian history, as the first efforrts to conserve the Leuser ecosystem arose from the surrounding communities. In 1932, after extensive lobbying,
part of area was granted a protected status, called Gunung Leuser Wildlife Reserve.
Later additional reserve were amalgamated to form The Gunung Leuser National Park. This still fell short of the original wishes of local leaders; and so in 1992 a group of
leaders from D.I Aceh and Sumatera Utara (north Sumatera) formed the Leuser International Foundation . In 1995 the Indonesian Government granted a unique conservation
right to the foundation to manage the 0.8 million hectares of state forest land that constitutes the Leuser Ecosystem.
There is wildlife range of interesting attraction in the Leuser Ecosystem . Wet tropical jungles, hotspring, caves, rives, lakes, waterfalls and last, but not least - flora anf fauna.
Beause of the wide span of altitude, from 0 m to over 3,000 m above sealevel, and rich variety of different types of soil, the Leuser Ecosystem is very rich in plant species.
They range from beach and swamp forrest, to over lowland forest, to highland forrest and have a treasure of some 8500 species of plants.
The beach and swamp forrest are especially found in Kluet, where the beach fringed by line of graeful Casuarina trees. Other specific trees here are Wild Nutmeg (Myristica sp.), Chambor
trees (Dryobalanops aromatica) Nipah palms, rattan, mangroves, pandanus, etc.
The lowland forrest starts where the land rises from sea level and where the soil is well drained, away from the flat coastal plains. On poorer soil, this forest is dominated by hardwood trees of the dipterocarp
family. Elsewhere, on flat soils, grow bamboo, different kinds of fruit trees such as durian, mangos, rambutans, citrus, punto, jackfruit,figtrees, etc. These trees are important for many animals as a source of food,
especially the Fig tree. Seventy of Sumatera's one hundred fig species are found in Leuser Ecosystem. Each species is poolinated by specific species of Wasp and if the Wasp dies out, the fig tree goes with it.
Other big trees in the lowland forest are Meranti (Shorea sp. ), Keruing (Dipterocarpus spp. ), Kapur (Dryobalanops spp., damar (Hopea spp.), etc. Rattans and liana are two kinds if
climber that are found everywhere in the park.
At the altitude of 1500 meters there is almost constant mist and clouds and night temperature drop down below 12 degrees Centigrade.The plants of this region are generally characterized by stunted and gnarled
trees draped in thick mats of moss and lichens. In the acid soil we find pitcher plants and many kinds of wild orchid. Futher up, above 2000 m where the sun reaches the meadows (sub alpine meadows), the poorer
soil is dominated by herbs and flowers such as gentians,primroses and strawberries.
The most well-known flower in Leuser is Rafflesia named after Sir Stamford Raffles who studied and brought it to the world's attention. The Rafflesia is cconsidered to be the biggest flower in the world. It is parasite and
recent research suggest that the seeds are spread by squirrels and tree shrews, which eat Rafflesia fruit. About two years after the seeds has been implanted in a vine, the flower finally open up. Two species of Rafflesia
can be found in Leuser Ecosystem, Rafflesia acehensis and Rafflesia zippelni . The later species in reported to be found on alluvial terraces of Alas and Bengkung river, which is usually passed by trekkers on
their way to Perkinson Mountain.
There are 500 species in the Leuser Ecosystem, including mammals, birds, and reptiles. There are at least 130 species of mammals to be found. That means in 32 of the world's mammals are living in the Leuser Ecosystem,
or ¼ of the Indonesian mammals. This indicates the importance of this area for the wild life of Sumatera. The majority of the mammals are 15 species of rats, 15 species of rats, 13 species of bats and 17 squirels.
The rats are normally nocturnal, i.e. night animals. They feed o insect and worms. The bat are also nocturnal and can be seen as they emerge at dusk. Several caves serve as roosting sites for the bats. Their died consists
of fruits and insects. There are both nocturnal and diurnal squirrels in the Leuser Ecosystem. Squirrels show a great variation and can easily be seen at any time. The diurnal squirrels are represented with at least 10 species
of which the largest one is Ratufa sp., it is as big as domesticated cat. The primates are most well-known species in the park. One of most popular is of course the Orangutan (Pongo pygmeus). Orangutans are
the biggest aboreal mammals in the world. Big males can weigh up to 90 kg's. Despite their heavy bodies, they move around easily in canopy of the trees . There is an estimated 5000 Orangutans in Leuser Eosystem. Two smaller
relatives to the orangutan are White Haned Gibbon (Hylobates lar ) and the Black Siamangs (Hylobates syndactylus). They are known for their ringing calls, which can heard at a distance of one kilometer.
Other primates are the pig tailed macaque (Macacca nemestrina) and log tail macaque (Macaca fascicularis) often seen near camp site in Gurah. Other species are Thomas leaf monkey (Prebytis thomasi ),
Lutung (Prebytis cristata ) and gray Lutung (Prebytis crisata).
The Leuser Ecosystem is of course also the home of many different predators (carnivore). At least seven of the nine Indonesian cat species can be found in Leuser Ecosystem, including Sumatran tiger (Phantera tigris sumatera )
which is very rare now. Also the clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa ), golden cat (Felis temmincki), and marbled cat (Felish marmorata). The wild dog or ajak (Cuon alpinus ), honey bear (Helarctos malayanus ),
and wild goat (Capricomis sumatrensis ) are other interesting animals to be found.
Other species of mammals in Leuser Ecosystem include the sumateran rhinoceros (Dicherorhinus sumatrensis ) and elephant (Elephas maximu sumatrana ). The rhinoceros, due to illegal hunting, is on the brink of extinction.
The Elephants live in lowlands and often come into conflict with man. To save these animals the boundaries of Leuser Ecosystem need to be redrawn in order to include entire elephant territories.
Among herbivores are the large sambar deer (Cervus unicolor ), the barking deer or muntjak (Muntiacus muntjak ), and two kind of mouse deer (Tragulus sp ) . The mountain goat (Capricornis sumatrensis ), is seldom seen but present.
At least 325 species of birds have been recorded . There are eight kinds of Hornbills can easily be heard, but the argus pheasant (Argusianus argus ) is even louder. It is related to peacock , but not as colorful. Other interesting birds are the crested wood partridge
(Rhollulus roulroul ), the small babler (Malacopteron sp. ) and the fairy buebird (Irena puella ). There are five different speies of the colorful kingfishers, but only a few species of parrots. Dove and pigeons are ccommon.
The most famous snake is the python that can be up to 10 meters long. King cobras, black cobras, various kinds of vipers, rat snakes and tree snake are also present.
Only a few of snakes are lethal to humans. Turtles and tortoises live in lowland forest are threatened bypoaching, as well as the croccodile that once ommon, especially in the alas river. Occasionally one is seen. As the Leuser Ecosystem has a flying (glidding) squirrels,
there are also lizards, snakes and frogs that can do the same for up to 20 metres !.
The rivers of course have fish. Fishing is prohibited in the park because too much destruction has already taken place by illegal fishing practices. The salt water fish, pruffer fish and sawfish can occcasionally be found in the rivers up to 20 km inland.
The number of insect is naturally enormous and is also essential for the ecosystem. Even though one can easily be irritated by itchy and biting insect; the world of ants, beetles, buterflies and so forth is a wonder in itself and also easy to observe.
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