Wildlife of Sumatra, Indonesia

23rd - 28th January 2020

Way Kambas National Park, Sumatra
Way Kambas National Park, Sumatra, Indonsia

Every since I was a child I've been facinated by stories of strange animals living on exotic tropical islands such as Borneo, Java, and Sumatra. I was lucky enough to spend some time on Borneo a few years ago but when the chance came to pay my first visits to Java and Sumatra in January as well as another Indonesian island, Sulawesi... I jumped at it.

The first stop was Way Kambas National Park in the far south of Sumatra where I booked three days guided treking with accommodation at the Satwa Elephant Lodge. Aware that Indonesia has undergone huge developement since the stories of my youth I didn't have high expectations, but in fact I was pleasantly surprised by the impressive animal diversity.

Banded Palm Civet (Hemigalus derbyanus) in Sumatra
Banded Palm Civet (Hemigalus derbyanus)

Black-and-Red Broadbill (Cymbirhynchus macrorhynchos) in Way Kambas National Park Crested Fireback (Lophura ignita) in Way Kambas National Park BRed-bearded Bee-eater (Nyctyornis amictus) eating a cicada in Way Kambas National Park
Black-and-Red Broadbill (Cymbirhynchus macrorhynchos)
Crested Fireback (Lophura ignita)
Red-bearded Bee-eater (Nyctyornis amictus) eating a cicada

The forest thronged with the songs of tropical birds. Spotting them amongst the tall trees was a real challenge, but clearings, trails and a trip down the river allowed glimses of exotic species such as the broadbill, fireback and bee-eater above.

The teeming insect life was much easier to find with literally clouds of butterflies in places and spotlighting with a torch at night revealed a host of nocturnal creatures such as beetles, caterpillars, spiders and even two beautiful snakes.

Five-bar Swordtail (Graphium antiphates) in Sumatra Orange Awlet Butterfly (Burara sp.)
Five-bar Swordtail (Graphium antiphates)
Orange Awlet Butterfly (Burara sp.)

Thorny Geometrid caterpillar in Sumatra Theodosia Beetle (Theodosia sp.) in Sumatra
Thorny Geometrid caterpillar
Theodosia Beetle (Theodosia sp.)

Malayan Vine Snake (Ahaetulla mycterizans) in Sumatra
Malayan Vine Snake (Ahaetulla mycterizans)

What most impressed me though was the range of mammals managing to survive in the forest. As soon as we arrived on the first morning there were Agile Gibbons calling from the tree-tops accompanied by huge Siamang and within a few minutes a Malayan Sun Bear strolled calmly across in front of us.

There were bats roosting in the National Park headquarters, seven species of primate and four different carnivores. Most were just a brief glimpse through the forest undergrowth but two beautiful Banded Palm Civets had an argument right in front of me and a family of Siamang sat in a tree-top above, deafening me with their song.
Siamang family (Symphalangus syndactylus) in the rainforest Forest Short-nosed Fruit Bat (Cynopterus brachyotis) in the rainforest Silvery Langur (Trachypithecus cristatus) in the rainforest
Siamang family (Symphalangus syndactylus) singing
Forest Short-nosed Fruit Bat (Cynopterus brachyotis)
Silvery Langur (Trachypithecus cristatus)

Overall, Sumatra exceeded my expectations. The number of people and general developlment of the countryside was as bad as I had feared, but Way Kambas was an excellent refuge where a surpriseing amount of incredible sumatran wildlife is managing to hang on. My guide Hari Yono ( you can contact him on Facebook here...) was also excellent... nowedgable, patient and adaptable, exactly what was needed and I would stronly recommend him to anyone thinking of visiting this facinating, exotic island.

Next stop Sulawesi...

Mammal Species in Sumatra

Agile Gibbon (Hylobates agilis)(heard)
Siamang (Symphalangus syndactylus)
Southern Pig-tailed Macaque (Macaca nemestrina)
Long-tailed Macaque (Macaca fascicularis)
Silvery Langur (Trachypithecus cristatus)
Sumatran Surili (Presbytis melalophos)
Sunda Slow Loris (Nycticebus coucang)
Malayan Sun Bear (Helarctos malayanus)
Malayan Weasel (Mustela nudipes)
Masked Palm Civet (Paguma larvata)
Banded Palm Civet (Hemigalus derbyanus)

Eurasian Wild Boar (Sus scrofa)
Southern Red Muntjac (Muntiacus muntjak)
Sambar Deer (Rusa unicolor)
Greater Mouse-Deer (Tragulus napu)
Common Treeshrew (Tupaia glis)
Pen-tailed Tree-Shrew (Ptilocercus lowii)
Prevost’s Squirrel (Callosciurus prevostii)
Black-striped Squirrel (Callosciurus nigrovittatus)
Plantain squirrel (Callosciurus notatus)
Forest Short-nosed Fruit Bat (Cynopterus brachyotis)
Lesser False Vampire Bats (Megaderma spasma)

Swarm of butterflies in Way Kambas National Park, Sumatra
A swarm of Eurema and other butterflies