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Searching for the endangered Javan leopard

CIFOR research on monitoring biodiversity in Gunung Halimun-Salak national park in Java, Indonesia, brings new hope for the endangered Javan leopard.

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Searching for the endangered Javan leopard

  1. 1. Searching for the endangered Javan leopardA photo story by CIFOR
  2. 2. At the foot of Mount Salak, known as „misty mountain‟ to the local Sundanese people, Gunung Halimun-Salaknational park is found on the bustling, heavily populated island of Java, Indonesia. Abutting the huge metropolisof Jakarta, the park encompasses several volcanoes and spans more than 113, 000 hectares – an area twice thesize of Singapore. Photo by Mokhamad Edliadi /CIFOR
  3. 3. The park holds an abundance of riches. It is home to some of the last primary rainforest in Java, and is one ofthe biologically diverse places in Indonesia with more than 700 plant species, 61 mammals and 224 bird species.CIFOR has produced a guide to the Sudanese name, distribution, and use of 500 plant species found in the park.Photo by Mokhamad Edliadi /CIFOR
  4. 4. The forests in Java are changing as the large scale conversion of land for oil palm and timber plantations areputting huge pressure on forest resources. Within the park borders, more localized deforestation from farmingactivities, mining ,and timber collection by local communities are encroaching into areas set aside forconservation and biodiversity. Photo by Mokhamad Edliadi /CIFOR
  5. 5. Around 300 traditional Kasepuhan and Baduy communities live in and around the park‟s buffer zone. Subsistenceagriculture and tea plantations provide the main sources of income, yet unemployment is high and poverty is areality for many. Despite laws prohibiting the overuse of forest resources in the park, over 100,000 people rely onthe forest for food, fire wood and fodder plants. Photo by Mokhamad Edliadi /CIFOR
  6. 6. Human encroachment and deforestation are having a huge impact on biodiversity. The park is home to the Javanleopard (Panthera pardus melas), Javan hawk eagle (Nisaetus bartelsi) and Javan gibbon (Hylobates moloch), allunique species to the area; however, their numbers are in decline. The Javan leopard was declared criticallyendangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2008, and their exact numbersare still unknown; estimates range from 250-700. Photo by Mokhama Edliadi/CIFOR
  7. 7. To help fill this knowledge gap, CIFOR researcher Age Kridalaksana, in partnership with Bogor AgriculturalUniversity and with support of national park staff, is working in Gunung Halimun-Salak National Park to monitordeclining leopard populations. The data will contribute to existing research to help estimate leopard populationsand to monitor leopard home ranges. Photo by Mokhamad Edliadi /CIFOR
  8. 8. The team set up 30 camera traps in various locations in a small area of forest on the east side of the park. Bymonitoring the leopard‟s movements through the forest, CIFOR hopes that national park staff can better designpolicies and programs aimed at their protection, in particular by helping them to avoid conflict and contact withlocal communities. “We need quality data if we are to change the management system of the park,” said Age.Photo by Mokhamad Edliadi /CIFOR
  9. 9. After one month, the scientists return to the area to check the camera traps. To their delight, three Javan leopards(one spotted and two black) were photographed. Photo by CIFOR
  10. 10. “We were so excited when we saw the results,” said Age. Many of the images were taken only meters from theresearch station on paths used by the local communities to collect fruit and other forest resources.Photo by CIFOR
  11. 11. Thousands of images of other species such as Barking deer (Muntiacus muntjak), Oriental small-clawed otter(Aonyx cinerea), Banded linsang (Prionodon linsang) and Common palm civet (Paradoxurushermaphroditus), were also caught on camera – encouraging signs that the forest is rich in biodiversity and theleopard‟s prey is abundant. Photo by CIFOR
  12. 12. The team analyzed the images and discussed the findings. While it would appear that leopard populations andtheir prey in this particular area appear to be healthy, there is potential for problems in the future. “Leopards areknown to have large home ranges of 10 square kilometres, so if their habitat continues to decrease, they faceincreasing competition for prey, threats to the gene pool from interbreeding and increased conflict and contactwith humans,” said Age. Photo by Mokhamad Edliadi /CIFOR
  13. 13. For more information on CIFOR‘s research on the Javan leopard andbiodiversity, visit