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Biological Diversity

The Rainforest of Bukit Lawang

The Indonesian rainforests are amongst the most biologically diverse landscapes in the world and provide a home for hundreds of indigenous animal and plant species.

92 endemic species

92 endemic species have been identified in Gunung Leuser National Park alone. Moreover, it is the only place in the world where the big Asian mammals tiger, orangutan, rhino and elephant share the same habitat. Another 130 mammal species, of which eight are primates, live in the park. Additionally, the rainforest is home to over 380 birds and 4,000 different plants.

The biggest threats

The biggest threats to the rainforests, in Bukit Lawang and everywhere else around the world, are road development and agricultural encroachment as well as illegal logging and poaching. Even tough conservation efforts are undertaken in recent years and many tropical forests profit from government protection, the extinction of endemic plants and some of the world’s most endangered animal species remains a great threat.

Danger of extinction

Of the three national parks forming the UNESCO Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra, Gunung Leuser National Park (GLNP) in the provinces of North Sumatra and Aceh is the largest and most significant remaining forest in Sumatra. Therefore, it is also one of the few sheltered areas aiming at the protection of many species in danger of extinction.

What to consider on every jungle trek

The Orangutans in the Sumatran Rainforest

Gunung Leuser National Park is the only place where you can still see the Sumatran Orangutan (Pongo abelii) in the wilderness of the rainforest. (The other remaining orangutan species (Pongo pygmaeus) is found on the island of Borneo.) Around 6500 orangutans still live in the ca. 1,095,000 ha of rainforest that form Gunung Leuser National Park.

The small village of Bukit Lawang lies 90 km west of North Sumatra’s capital Medan at the entrance to Gunung Leuser National Park.
In Bukit Lawang, between 1973 and 1991, around 230 orangutans have been brought back into the forest from captivity in the framework of a rehabilitation programme. Some of them have become wild-living animals in the primary forest. However, most of them remain semi-wild and keep coming back to the secondary forest close to the village. This makes protecting the jungle and respecting the orangutans’ habitat even more important. This entails:

not feeding or touching the orangutans

not calling them

keeping a distance of 7 meters

not observing and staying close to them for more than one hour

Other primates you will see in the jungle around Bukit Lawang are siamang, Thomas leaf monkey, lar gibbon (white-handed gibbon), pig-tailed macaque, crab-eating macaque (long-tailed macaque), silvery lutung and slow loris. Moreover, you will see a variety of insects, reptiles and other animal species and of course a rich and stunning flora.