In stark contrast to the lush green scenery found elsewhere on the island of Java, the Baluran National Park, located on the east-most edge of Java, consists predominantly of open savannahs, where wildlife roam free. Here one can watch grazing, the large Javan water buffaloes called “banteng”, small Java mouse deer known as “kancil”, peacocks strutting about displaying their colorful plumage, eagles flying overhead and macaques fishing for crabs with their tails.
Coverning 250 sq km, the Park forms part of the district of Situbondo, in the province of East Java, comprising lowland forests, mangrove forests and 40% swathes of fertile savannahs, they provide abundant food for the animals. Here also are many typical Java trees like the Java tamarind and the pecan nut trees.
Discovered by Dutchman A.H.Loredeboer, in 1937 it was designated Wildlife Refuge by the Dutch colonial authorities, and in 1980 Indonesia designated this as a National Park.
At the center of this large Park stands the extinct Baluran volcano, watching over its pristine environment
Dominated by the dry east wind, Baluran receives on average only 3 months of rain. The rainy season in East Java being between November through April, peaking in December and January, while the dry season lasts from April through October.
During the dry season, the land parches and water becomes scarce, while when it rains, water slides over the black alluvial land with little being absorbed, forming water pools especially along the Park’s southern part that connects Talpat with Bama Beach.
When you visit Baluran during the rainy season, you will see ample water holes, but during this time the Banteng and the wild bulls prefer to wander in the forests, although other animals like peacocks, mouse deer, and wild fowl do come out and can still be observed.
Baluran National Park boasts 444 species of trees, some unique to the area like the widoro bukol (Ziziphus rotundifolia), mimba (Azadirachta indica), and pilang (Acacia leucophloea). These plants are able to adapt to dry conditions when others have long wilted. Other trees also remaining green are the candle trees or kemiri (Aleurites moluccana), gebang (Corypha utan), api-api (Avicennia sp), the tamarind tree (Tamarindus indica), gadung (Dioscorea hispida), kendal (Cordia obliqua), manting (Syzygium polyanthum), and kepuh (Sterculia foetida).
The Park is habitat to 26 mammal species among which are the banteng (Bos javanicus javanicus), wild water buffaloes (Bubalus bubalis), the ajag (Cuon alpinus javanicus), the muncak deer (Muntiacus muntjak muntjak), the rusa (Cervus timorensis rusa), leopards (Panthera pardus melas), the mouse deer(Tragulus javanicus pelandoc), and mangrove cats (Prionailurus viverrinus). The Banteng are specific to Baluran and are therefore the Park’s mascot.
Additionally, Baluran is habitat to 155 types of birds, among which are the rare fire kite (Hirundo rustica), the red forest fowl (Gallus gallus), kangkareng (Anthracoceros convecus), hornbills (Buceros rhinoceros), tuwuk or asian tuwur (Eudynamys scolopacea), peacocks (Pavo muticus), and herons (Leptoptilos javanicus).
A safari trip to Baluran is indeed a precious journey.