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| | The Indonesian Island of Sulawesi
The Indonesian Island of Sulawesi
I found this article interesting because Sulawesi has an endemic flora (such as the Limnophila sp 'Sulawesi' and fauna such as the Sulawesi shrimp popular among aquarium hobbyists.
Flora and fauna
Nomorhamphus liemi female in an aquarium; there are at least 19 species of Nomorhamphus, most of which are only found on Sulawesi.
Sulawesi is part of Wallacea, meaning that it has a mix of both Asian and Australasian species. There are 8 national parks on the island, of which 4 are mostly marine. The parks with the largest terrestrial area are Bogani Nani Wartabone with 2,871 km˛ and Lore Lindu National Park with 2,290 km˛. Bunaken National Park which protects a rich coral ecosystem has been proposed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
There are 127 known mammalian species in Sulawesi. A large percentage of these mammals, 62% (79 species) are endemic, meaning that they are found nowhere else in Indonesia or the world. The largest native mammals in Sulawesi are the two species of anoa or dwarf buffalo. Other mammalian species inhabiting Sulawesi are the babirusas, which are aberrant pigs, the Sulawesi palm civet, and primates including a number of tarsiers (the spectral, Dian's, Lariang and pygmy species) and several species of macaque, including the crested black macaque, the moor macaque and the booted macaque. Although virtually all Sulawesi's mammals are placental, and generally have close relatives in Asia, several species of cuscus, marsupials of Australasian origin, also occur.
By contrast, because many birds can fly between islands, Sulawesian bird species tend to be found on other nearby islands as well, such as Borneo; 34% of Sulawesi's birds are found nowhere else. One endemic bird is the largely ground-dwelling, chicken-sized Maleo, a megapode which uses hot sand close to the island's volcanic vents to incubate its eggs. There are around 400 known bird species in Sulawesi. An international partnership of conservationists, donors, and local people have formed the Alliance for Tompotika Conservation, in an effort to raise awareness and protect the nesting grounds of these birds on the central-eastern arm of the island.
The Ornate Lorikeet is endemic to Sulawesi.
Sulawesi also has several endemic species of freshwater fish, such as those in the genus Nomorhamphus, a species flock of livebearing freshwater halfbeaks containing at least 19 distinct species, most of which are only found on Sulawesi.
There are also many species of freshwater shrimp that are endemic to Sulawesi. Several of these species have become very popular in the aquarium hobby. Several of these shrimp species are found only in specific lakes in Sulawesi, making them even more rare.
Orange Delight Shrimp from Sulawesi.
Some freshwater snails are also endemic to Sulawesi. Due to the small habitat and unique environment it is critical that all freshwater species from Sulawesi be conserved properly. An expedition was conducted by Mimbon Aquarium to the island of Sulawesi to document and collect some of the species of fish, shrimp and snails mentioned. There are several photos of the landscape, underwater habitat and some of the collected specimens from the expedition journal.
The island was recently the subject of an Ecoregional Conservation Assessment, coordinated by The Nature Conservancy. Detailed reports about the vegetation of the island are available. The assessment produced a detailed and annotated list of 'conservation portfolio' sites. This information was widely distributed to local government agencies and nongovernmental organizations. Detailed conservation priorities have also been outlined in a recent publication.
The lowland forests on the island have mostly been removed. Because of the relative geological youth of the island and its dramatic and sharp topography, the lowland areas are naturally limited in their extent. The past decade has seen dramatic conversion of this rare and endangered habitat. The island also possesses one of the largest outcrops of serpentine soil in the world, which support an unusual and large community of specialized plant species. Overall, the flora and fauna of this unique center of global biodiversity is very poorly documented and understood and remains critically threatened.
The largest environmental issue in Sulawesi is deforestation. In 2007, scientists found that 80 percent of Sulawesi's forest had been lost or degraded, especially centered in the lowlands and the mangroves. Forests have been felled for logging and large agricultural projects. Loss of forest has resulted in many of Sulawesi's endemic species becoming endangered. In addition 99 percent of Sulawesi's wetlands have been lost or damaged.
Other environmental threats included bushmeat hunting and mining.
The island of Sulawesi has six national parks and nineteen nature reserves. In addition, Sulawesi has three marine protected areas. Many of Sulawesi's parks are threatened by logging, mining, and deforestation for agriculture.
The 2000 census population of the provinces of Sulawesi was 14,946,488, about 7.25% of Indonesia's total population. The largest city is Makassar.