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History of Ujung Kulon

The park's 120.551 hectares are divided into 76.214 ha of land and 44.337 ha of surrounding reef and sea. It can roughly be separated into three areas: the triangular shaped Ujung kulon Peninsula, the Gunung Honje Range to the east of the peninsula's isthmus and the island of Panaitan to the northwest. The highest points in the park are the 620 meters Gunung Honje, the Gunung Payung Range peaks of up to 500 meters and Panaitan Island 's Gunung Raksa at 320 meters. In the central section of the Peninsula is a large region of wilderness known as the Talanca Plateau which reaches 140 meters above sea level, however most consist of low rolling terrain seldom ujung kulon mapmore than 50 meters above sea level.

The park surrounded by unusually warm water, seldom varying from between 29C to 30C. The coastlines of the park are molded by the sea around them, battered by Indian Ocean; the long sandy beaches of the south coast are backed by dunes, lagoons and forest broken by rocky outcrops  a wild and wind swept shore line.The west coast's reef-lined shore has cliffs, promontories and towering sea-stacks along sand and boulder beaches overhung by forest, creating the most spectacular coastline in the park.On the north coast, the sheltered tropical straits lap upon beaches of white sands and coral banks with islands, estuaries, swamps and forest lined shores.Along each coastline is variety of seascape which in all their diversity, offer a wide range of absorbing shoreline experiences.

GEOLOGY

The even that led to formation of the land we as Ujung kulon began about 200 years ago when what is now the Indian Continent broke away from the super-continent Gondwanaland. It collided with the Asian continent creating huge ripples across the earth's crust forming the snow-clad Himalaya along with Sumatra's mountain range, Bukit Barisan. It believed that the Ujung kulon Peninsula and the Gunung Honje Range were at that time the southern end of Bukit Barisan Range as Java and Sumatra were connected by a land-bridge. Then 20.000 to 15.000 years ago, the bridge collapsed to eventually form the Sunda Strait about 9.500 years ago.

How ever, the period when the strait was formed is somewhat contradicted by an intriguing account in an early Javanese chronicle The Book of Kings. It states that in the year 416 AD the mountain Kapi (Krakatau) burst into peaces and sunk into deepest of the earth and the sea flooded the land from Gunung Gede near Bogor to mountain Raja Basa in Southern Sumatra. The chronicle concludes: After the waters subsided the mountain Kapi and surrounding land became sea and the island of  Java was divided into two parts.

It is a curious fact that no sea straits between Sumatra and Java was known before 1.100's by the far ranging Chinese and Arabian traders and later European explores.Beneath the mountains and forest of Ujung kulon, carved by the thousands of centuries of rain, wind and sea, are foundation of the land - a young mountain system formed over the older strata of the Sunda Shelf. Geologically, the Ujung kulon Peninsula, Gunung Honje Range and Panaitan Island are part of this young tertiary mountain system while the central part of Ujungkulon is of older limestone formations which have been covered by alluvial deposits in the north and sandstone in the south. Much of underlying rocks and early soils of the park are covered by volcanic ash, in places up to 1 meter deep, a legacy from the Krakatau eruptions.

The mountain ranges were all formed by the same folding event in the Miocene period creating beneath the forest of the Gunung Honje Range an eastward tilting mountain block. A reminder of this activity is a geological fault line situated off the Tamanjaya coastline. It bisects the park beneath the isthmus as it passes through the Sunda straits connecting the volcanic islands of Krakatau to the major tectonic fault line to the south of Indonesia

CLIMATE

Ujung kulon's tropical maritime climate, somewhat cooler than inland areas of Java, produces an annual rainfall of approximately 3.250 mm. Temperatures range between 25º and 30ºC, with a humidity level generally between 80% and 90%. April to October are the drier months, particularly between July to October. During these months there are long period of fine, calm weather with occasional spells of overcast skies, rain and rougher seas. The wetter season usually begins in November and finishes in March bringing an average of 400 mm of rain per month. The heaviest rains of December and January are often accompanied by squalls and strong winds, clearing the atmosphere and producing brilliant sunsets and spectacular panoramas (Margareth Clarbrough/Ujungkulon National Park Handbook)

UJUNG KULON FLORA

PLANT LIFE  

Ujung Kulon National Parks is one of the lastremaining natural forest on Java and one very few areas offering a profile of sea shore to mountain top tropical vegetation. The Park holds well over 700 species of plant life of which at least 57 are classified as rare in Java and perhaps the world.

LOWLAND RAIN FOREST

Amongst the most fascinating of the Park's plant life are the many species of figs. These can take the form of trees, climbers or epiphytes and are the larders of the forest that provide abundant fruit for the wildlife. The strangling fig begins from seed deposited in cavities in the trunks or branches of large trees by birds, bats and other small animals. Once germinated, the fig sends veils of tendrils down into the soil witch then form a lattice work of roots around the trunk of the host tree. Eventually, over-whelmed byrain forest at peucang island ujung kulon the vigorous fig, the host tree dies and rots away, leaving within the roots of the fig the hollow shape of the original tree, its strangled victim. A number of trees such as the kigentel, the tokbrai and the kondang produce flowers and fruit on their lower trunks or larger branches rather than at the usual twig ends. Why this interesting characteristic, called cruciform, has evolved is puzzling. One theory is that the fruit of these plants, being more accessible to larger animals, allows the seed to be scattered over a wide area. However other animal such as monkeys and birds become more vulnerable because they must leave the safety of the forest canopy to feed upon the cauliflorous fruit.

The climbing lianas are a feature of rain forest and grow towards the light without damaging the host tree. These vines only fruit and flower in the forest's canopy and to regenerate must reach the sunlight. They create aerial pathways for wildlife, assisting in their search for food and in seed dispersal. Several species which include kowao, leksa and asahan are water-logged with sap.

Not only animals benefit from climbing plants. Certain climbers are of high medicinal value and are used in the treatment of cancer and in Indonesian traditional tonics jamu. Others provide the Derris root powder used in insecticides or the latex in chewing gum while yet another produces a substance that is 1,500 times sweeter than sugar. Another climber is the aggressive rattan, valued in furniture making, which use the thorns on its whip-like tendrils to attach itself to vegetation and passer-by. The angle of the thorns enable the rattan to anchor deeper with any attempt to pull away from it. As with other palms, its tightly folded immature leaves are very palatable to wildlife

One of the characteristics of Ujung Kulon's forest is the wide variety of palms of which the strangling pig tress peujang islandmost common is the langkap. Although these forests are found in very few others locations in the whole of the Malayan region, its rapid regeneration and ability to spread into undisturbed forest has made this a dominant species in Ujung Kulon. Rain forests also hold a wide variety of epiphytes and although they also grown on trees, inflict no harm. They include the splendid bird's-nest. ferns and an abundance of orchids. The brilliant white with a yellow centre Moon orchid, the deep red Pipit orchid, the white to purple-pink Dove orchid, and the tiny white Squirrel tail which only opens for one day, are just a few of the varieties.

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