Destinations in Indonesia
Strange Creatures that inhabit Sulawesi
The Lore Lindu Nature Reserve is a large section of Central Sulawesi that has been set aside as a Wildlife Sanctuary. The park is a protected area which encompasses multiple ecosystems of forests, valleys, swamps and lakes and is home to almost every mammal and bird species on the island. Below are just a few of Central Sulawesi’s most unique and fascinating endemic creatures.
These strange and unique animals can be observed in the extensive Lore Lindu National Park, but one can also see them roaming free in other parts of Sulawesi, such as in the Tangkoko Nature Reserve in the province of North Sulawesi.
A number of these are as follows:
Studies have documented 127 known mammalian species in Sulawesi, 79 of which are endemic to the island, though almost all have close relatives elsewhere in Asia.When bats are excluded from the mammal count – since they have potential to migrate – the percentage of endemic mammal species leaps from an already incredible 62% to an almost unbelievable 98%. Several species of cuscus, marsupials native to Australia, can also be found.
The Babirusa is a pig-like creature, native to Northern and Central Sulawesi and the nearby Lembeh islands. The most distinctive feature of the babirusa is their two large pairs of tusks. The lower tusks are canines that grow out of the sides of the mouth, similar to other tusked creatures, but the upper pair are canines from the top jaw, which instead of growing into the mouth, penetrate the top of the skull and curve back towards the forehead. Babirusa are virtually hairless, with greyish skin. They measure between 85-110 centimetres in length, and weigh about 100kg. They are usually found in the underbrush of tropical forests, and around the shores of rivers and lakes.
Anoa are midget water buffalo, and are the largest mammals found in Sulawesi. There are two species of anoa: the mountain anoa and the lowland anoa, and both bear similar appearance to the deer. The lowland anoa reaches 90cm at the shoulder, while the mountain anoa stands a mere 70cm – the smallest of all species of wild cattle. Unlike most cattle, the anoa live singly or in pairs, rather than in large herds. Due to hunting for hides, horns and meat, fewer than 5,000 of each species remain. The anoahave been classified as an endangered species since the 1960s.
Several species of Tarsier inhabit the Sulawesi forests, including the Spectral Tarsier, the smallest primate in the world. Tarsiers are small, nocturnal creatures with soft, velvet fur and abnormally large eyes, giving them the appearance of small, fuzzy aliens. The Tarsier is a strange creature, with a head that can rotate 180 degrees, a body measuring about 10-15 cm in length with hind limbs of about twice as long, and a long, slender tail. Their fingers are also elongated, with the third finger almost the same length as the upper arm. The creature’s enormous eyes measure approximately 16mm in diameter, and are as large as its entire brain. Tarsiers are the only existing primate which is entirely carnivorous. Their diet consists of mainly insects, but they have also been known to prey on snakes, lizards and bats. Some have even been seeing catching birds in motion as they jump from tree to tree. Sulawesi Tarsiers live in small family groups, unlike the Philippine Tarsiers which forage and sleep alone.
The Sulawesi Crested Black Macaque, or Macaca Nigra are the most endangered of seven macaque species on Sulawesi Island. They have pink bottoms, and stylish “Mohawk” hair. Because its tail is short and difficult to see, it was once thought to be an ape. The Black Macaques are very social and live in large groups. Before they were endangered, they could be found in groups numbering a few hundred. They can be found in semi-forested areas and tropical rain forests and sleep very high up in large trees. Macaque are over-hunted for food, and are served as a delicacy on weddings and other such special occasions. The Crested Black Macaque is found only at the tip of Sulawesi’s northern peninsula.
The Sulawesi Palm Civet, also known as the Giant Civet, is a fairly large civet with a length of 70cm and weighing about 5kg. The giant civet is omnivorous with its fruit as the primary part of its diet. They have, however, been known to climb trees to prey on birds and other smaller animals.
The Maleo is a ground-dwelling bird, and is the only member of the Macrocephalangenus. They live in large colonies in the tropical lowlands, hills and forests, but nest in open, sandy areas, and use the heat of the island’s many volcanoes to incubate their eggs. They are roughly chicken-sized, but yet lay massive eggs, easily five times the size of a domestic chicken’s egg. The Maleo is an endangered species and has been protected by the Indonesian government since 1972.
As most birds are capable of flight, many of Sulawesi’s bird species are found on other islands. 34% of Sulawesi’s almost 1,500 species of bird are nevertheless unique to the island. Sulawesi has been ranked by Birdlife International as the most endemic bird area on the planet. The island of Sulawesi supports no less than 70 endemic species of birds, plus an additional 57 species, which are endemic to the Sulawesi sub-region, which includes neighbouring islands such as Sula and Banggai. Of all Indonesian endemic birds, 61 species are threatened, 37 are listed as vulnerable, 23 are endangered, and 11 are on the Critical Red List of Threatened Species.
Sulawesi contains 13 freshwater lakes, including Lake Matano—the deepest lake in Southeast Asia. The island’s exceptionally long and twisting coast line was once covered in thick mangrove swamps, but these are now dwindling. These lakes and swamps are inhabited by 67 endemic fish species; some rare enough to only exist in each specific lake. These include several species of freshwater eel, and the Nomorhamphus genus: a live-bearing freshwater halfbeak consisting of 19 distinct species—most of which are found only on Sulawesi. A few endemic freshwater snails inhabit the lakes, as well as a number of species of freshwater shrimp.