Gunung Palung National Park


Gunung Palung National Park is located in Ketapang, province of West Kalimantan and comprises an area of 90.000ha and its height is about 1116m. In this national park is noted about 3.500 varieties of flora, 71 varieties of mammal, and 250 varieties of bird. At least 7 varieties of vegetation are found in this national park; it is mangrove forest, freshwater swamp forest, peat swamp forest, sediment forest, sub alpine forest, lowland and highland tropical forest. It makes this national park become the best and the widest Tropical Dipterocarpus Forest in Kalimantan. The main fascination of this national park is the population of Orangutan (Pongo pygmeaus); the scarce animal which is protected by law. Another fascination of this park is the variety of floras; Black Orchid (Coelogyne pandurata) is the most unique flora in this national park. The fascination of this flower can be seen from its pattern which is green with black pocks in the center of the flower. This flower is easy to found in the bank of Matan River around February up to April.

Besides the rich of flora and fauna, Gunung Palung National Park also has some tourism objects which are interesting to visit. Pulau Datuk beach which is located in sub district of Sukadana is one of the places that worthy to visit by tourists who like to swim and enjoy the view of sea. The location is side by side with Gunung Palung.

Riam Berasap Waterfall is another tourism objects in Gunung Palung. The height of this waterfall is around 16m and it falls to the lake with 300m2 wide. The location which is
difficult to be reached is match for the tourists who like adventure. The tourists should walk for about 6 hours to reach the location. As the suggestion, the tourists also should be guided by the local people who understand the field. The route which usually taken will pass some beautiful grasslands and hills with incline about 45°.

Some locations in Gunung Palung National Park can be used as the place to camp. Some locations which are usually suggested by the local people is Lubuk Baji and Gunung Peramas. To reach Lubuk Baji, the tourist should walk for about 8 hours from Sutra Village. In this location we will find some ecosystems such as lowland forest, secondary forest, sub Montana and swamp. In this location we can also find a waterfall with height about 20m. Gunung Peramas is one of the most important objects in Gunung Palung, because in this location we can find the biggest population of Orangutan and Hornbill (Rhinoplax vigil). Besides that, in this location, we also can visit a facility of Introductory Study of Paramas Environment which is managed by Palung Foundation. Later, a herbarium, insectariums, and a general information facility about environment education will be built in this location. To reach this location, the tourists should walk for about 2 hours.

Beside Introductory Study of Paramas Environment facility in Gunung Paramas, in Gunung Panti (1050m) we also can find another observation facility which is established by Laboratory of Tropical Forest Ecology of Harvard University cooperates with Directorate General of Forest Utilization in the Department of Forestry and Estate Crops of the Republic of Indonesia. This project concerns in protecting the population of Orangutan in Gunung Palung National Park. This observation facility consists of one research center, some residences for the researchers and library.

Fortunately, since Gunung Palung is specified as the National Park in 1990, the destruction of some Floras and Faunas by illegal logging which is actually discussed recently has not happened in this area. However, some actions have been done to prevent this thing. The establishing of Observation facility in Gunung Panti is one of the examples. In 2003, the local people around Gunung Palung National Park have been helping to protect the Orangutan and its habitats. They call themselves as OPMU (Orangutan Protection and Monitoring Units). Their actions take some attentions from them who care. Now, OPMU is helped by Fauna and Flora International, a conservation institution bases in England, to do the operational works in field.

Beside the protection of Orangutan population, Indonesia government also has been working together with European Union to stop the illegal logging which is progressively expand in some locations in Kalimantan by making a program named Illegal Logging Response Center. ILRC helps in providing some equipments such as Image Satellite Spot-5 to check the condition of the National Park, computers, and telephone. Besides that, ILRC also gives the financial support. In regularly, ILRC will get report about the activities from the manager of the National Park.

To get to the National Park, there are two alternative ways to take. First is via Ketapang, from Pontianak – Ketapang is needed 1 hour by plane or 6/7 hours by motorboat. After that, from Ketapang the tourists should travel by bus for about 2 hours to go to Sukadana. To reach Gunung Palung from Sukadana, the tourist can use longboat in rainy season, however in dry season the tourists can use sampan to reach the location. The second alternative is via Telok Melano, from Pontianak – Telok Melano, by taking Rasau Jaya route, the tourists need 3 up to 4 hours by speedboat or 10 hours by motorboat. After that, from Telok Melano the tourists can continue the journey by speedboat or sampan to reach the location of Gunung Palung National Park.

The condition of society in Gunung Palung National Park is as various as its ecosystems. The local people mostly are Dayak and Malay, but we also can find some races such as Madura, Chinese, and Javanese. Most of them are farmers and fisherman; some of them who live in Gunung Peramas also work as the stone miners. However, on holidays, such as on Muslim Celebration Day and New Year, most of the local people are busy to do the trading activities such as selling foods, drinks and some snacks in Pulau Datuk beach. Because on those times are the times when Pulau Datuk beach is crowded by visitors.

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Eka Arifin
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