From the world’s largest lizard to the world’s smallest buffalo, Indonesia is home to a myriad of fascinating wildlife. Many of Indonesia’s thousands of islands are still uninhabited and untouched by the outside world, making them the ideal breeding ground for rare and unusual wildlife – and a haven for animal lovers.
According to Conservation International, just 17 countries are considered “megadiverse”. This means that each possesses a vast number of different species – many found nowhere else. And Indonesia is one.1.
The mighty and ancient Komodo dragon is truly fearsome. Growing to a length of 3 metres and weighing up to 70 kilogrammes, they are the largest living lizards in the world. They live on just five Indonesian islands – Komodo, Rinca, Flores, Gili Motang and Padar. Their toxic bites allow them to hunt and kill far bigger animals.
Often described as the midget buffalo, anoa is the smallest buffalo in the world. It lives in the lush rainforests in Sulawesi but unfortunately is heading towards the dreaded endangered list due to over-hunting. With two sharp backward-facing horns, the little anoa is a fascinating creature to observe.
The Sumatran tiger is the smallest of all tiger species, but not any less ferocious. They live across the island of Sumatra, typically in deep forests and national parks. An endangered species, their population is dwindling rapidly due to habitat loss and poaching.
Black macaques are social animals, living in large groups, usually with more females than males. They are almost entirely jet black with long faces, amber eyes and a tuft of hair. They can be found on Sulawesi and some of the surrounding islands. In 2011 a cheeky ape shot to fame when it stole a photographer’s camera and snapped a selfie! As the story quickly went viral, so too did the concern to protect these intriguing apes.
The prehistoric-looking Javan rhinoceros is found only in the Ujung Kulon National Park in West Java. It is one of the rarest mammals on the planet with only about 63 remaining. It is a dusky grey colour with only one horn, in contrast to other rhino species that have two horns.
Orangutan literally means ‘forest man’. This adorable primate with large black eyes, shaggy reddish fur and almost human-like manners is one of the star attractions of Borneo and Kalimantan’s lush and extensive forests. They live their life in the trees, but unfortunately deforestation and other human activities have put them in danger of extinction.
Babirusas are no ordinary pigs! They are also known as ‘deer-pigs’ as they resemble an odd jumble of a pig’s head with the legs of a deer. The male has amazing curling tusks which are actually their upper canine teeth. They penetrate through the skin of the nose and then curve over the face towards the forehead. Babirusa can be spotted in North Sulawesi and some of the nearby islands.
The Bali starling is found only in the forests of the western part of Bali, far away from the tourist spots. They have clear white feathers, a striking bright blue patch around each eye and spiky feathers on the top of their heads. They are often released as part of temple ceremonies.
The flamboyant and beautifully coloured merak is a relative of the pheasant and can be found in Java and Sumatra. The iridescent tail of the male can extend up to two metres and is decorated with ‘eye’ markings.
Sunda Clouded Leopard
These secretive and rare wild cats can be found in Borneo and Sumatra, although exact numbers are not known. It is named after the cloud-shaped, dark-edged ovals on its coat. Well-adapted to forest life, they are excellent climbers and spend more time in the trees than on the ground.
Would you like to visit some of these extraordinary animals in person? Click here to see our tours and excursions to Indonesia.