WHS: Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra

Been a while since we got around to another visit post, we last left off at the Prehistoric Cave Sites in Maros-Pangkep in Sulawesi; so let’s continue our Indonesian explorations by hopping over to Sumatra and visiting the

Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra

The Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra (TRHS), Indonesia comprises three widely separated National Parks; Gunung Leuser (GLNP), Kerinci Seblat (KSNP) and Bukit Barisan Selatan (BBSNP), and covers a total area of 2,595,124hectares, constituting one of the biggest conservation areas in Southeast Asia. The site is located on Bukit Barisan range and holds the greatest potential for long-term conservation of the diverse biota of Sumatra, including many endangered species.

The biodiversity of the property is exceptional in terms of both species numbers and uniqueness. There are an estimated 10,000 species of plants, including 17 endemic genera. Animal diversity in TRHS is also impressive, with 201 mammal species and some 580 species of birds, of which 465 are resident and 21 are endemics. Of the mammal species, 22 are endemic to the Sundaland hotspot and 15 are confined to the Indonesian region, including the endemic Sumatran orang-utan. Key mammal species also include the Sumatran tiger, rhino, elephant and Malayan sun-bear.

The TRHS includes the highest volcano in Indonesia, Gunung Kerinci (3,805 m asl) along with many other physical features of exceptional natural beauty, including; Lake Gunung Tujuh the highest lake in Southeast Asia, numerous other volcanic and glacial high-altitude lakes, fumaroles, waterfalls, cave systems and steep rocky backdrops…

Here’s info on those three parks:

We landed in Medan to start our first swing through Sumatra, where right at the airport you can catch buses that head off for Bukit Lawang, and we’d figured we’d just make a day trip out of that —

— seeing as we’d just been tramping through rather similiar jungle in Borneo and all —

— and we’d read on The Infallible Internet that there were orangutan feedings daily. So we’d ooh and ah over that, fill up Instagram with pictures, and head right back to Medan.

Yeah … well … turns out those haven’t actually happened for a while as the orangutan population was overloading the nearby forest. That’ll teach us to not actually read all the comments, won’t it?

So, we did some research with the local guides on what the options are. And, surprise, if they’re not getting free food, orangutans would rather not be around people, so you need to walk out to them. And the general consensus is you have a fair chance of seeing orangutans on a full day hike, but if you want to be confident, at least an overnighter and three days is better.

So, this time around, you just get the scenery shot. Sumatra rainforest is pretty, even without orangutans, we’ll give it that:

Gunung Leuser National Park

… but, y’know, visiting Sumatra jungle and missing the orangutans is kinda like visiting Antartica and missing the penguins, so we’ll definitely be visiting the other parks next time we get back to Sumatra!

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  1. Kobkaew Patsit

    Good information for people never go there!!!

  2. […] to catch up on our jaunts through Indonesia today! The rainforests are the only inscribed WHS in Sumatra, but there’s several interesting tentative sites as well, […]

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