Sunday, 30 October 2011

Wildlife in Jakarta

Jakarta, the sprawling over populated, over polluted, over concreted, over development city is a city I have visited like no other. And everytime I go somewhere different in Jakarta the more I realise that the city is impossible to describe.
The lack of parks and green spaces here is clearly visible yet there are lots of little gardens and green areas either for play or allotments for people growing stuff. Some sidewalks have been entirely turned into garden centres and each plant very well looked after. Amazing.
Yet the city lacks large green spaces or the lungs it needs to breathe. Saying that, after some research through the internet I found the following. Please click each fact to gain more information

Jakarta has 4 million trees 
Paris has 480,000 trees the most of any european city
New York has 5.2 million trees
Tokyo has over 490,000 trees

So Jakarta has a lot of green out there, and whether the figure is correct or not is anyones guess but I would imagine it has to be somewhere near true. However the number of trees here is not as many as there should be.

Anyway I digress.

After seeing a photo in blog JakartaDailyPhoto.blogspot.com about mangrove in Jakarta and then after  some research I eventually found the place and what I could see there. So feeling like the intrepid explorer, I took a taxi with my fiance to Muara Angke, North Jakarta. Helps if the taxi driver knows where that is. Sadly he did not.
So after leaving Pluit, you head west and reach another part of Jakarta which is more like a frontier town than part of a bustling metropolis. Snarled with traffic of course but the chaos was worse and the feeling was more foreign and more unfamiliar than any other part of Jakarta I have been too. On one side of the road small housing and shops and the other large signs for apartments, golf, huge gates to guarded coastal housing areas and a total lack of natural presence. It took over an hour to find this Muara Angke and then another 30 minutes to find the entrance to the conservation park.

Finding the entrance was not easy but we stopped the taxi, paid and wandered in. On walking up the steps into a small entrance area, there was no information and no one to see and it looked run down and unloved.




We carried on into the conservation area and were eventually met by a ranger of some sorts and some workmen, who seemed fairly displeased we were there and told us firmly and politely that we needed paperwork to enter the conservation area or pay 10,000 each. We paid. Someone mentioned 50,000 of course but we paid the 10,000 and went further in.


The wooden walkway was in need of repair and there were workmen working as slowly as they could at fixing them watched by the birds and monkeys that were hanging around.






All the moaning aside. Once we started further into the park, the area opened up, silence returned, fresh air could almost be breathed and the only noise other than the aircraft overhead was the chatter of birds in the reed beds and trees and the noise of monkeys ahead. The area is beautiful. You could forget where you were within an instant.


So what wildlife did I see in the park. Well there are lot of butterflies for a start. The water is teeming with life, the plants the trees, the mangrove all visible and apparent. There were lots of birds of all sorts in the distance that rose up and settled down. Egris and Heron type birds. All very noisy.

I saw lizards and a baby monitor lizard roaming freely. With the swamp and marsh land, you could almost imagine seeing crocodiles waiting to attack something or someone. There was also a family of monkeys near the entrance and also on the walk. The second bunch of monkeys did not seem to bothered I was near but were also not too friendly to the idea of letting me walk through them as they did what ever monkeys do.





So there we have it. Real  nature in the city that no one really knows about or seems to care about. I am certain like most places here, if the Muara Angke Conservation park was developed and financed it would be a huge draw to tourists to visit a wilderness not far from Starbucks and to experience a landscape and the joys of being in it.

I hope to return there again soon not armed with bits of paper as I still do not know whose permission I need to get in but with my camera and a wish to explore it further. Now how do I charter a boat to see it from the other side?







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