West Bali National Park
Much of Bali’s natural landscape has been altered by the hand of man. Dense tropical forests that once covered the island have mostly now been cleared and the land molded into spectacular rice terraces and sprawling village settlements. But on the western most tip of the island, extensive montane forests. coastal swamps and marine waters have barely been disturbed by human presence. Today these areas comprise the Bali Barat (West Bali) National Park, officially gazetted in 1984 as one of ten national parks in Indonesia.
Several distinct environments are to be found within the park’s 76,312 hectares. Forested mountains ranging up to 1500 m stand in the park’s central and eastern sectors. Their southern slopes are forested with tropical vegetation that is green year round. The north is much drier than the south, hosting deciduous forests. Palm savannahs and mangrove swamps are found in the Coastal areas. Four nearby islands surrounded by coral reefs are rich in sea and bird life.
The park is home to two rare species of wildlife. The Bali Starling (Leucopsar rothschildi), found only in Bali, is a small white bird with black wingtips and a brilliant aqua blue streak around its eyes. A hundred or so individuals still live in the wild here, mainly on Menjangan Island, and the park is soring a project to train birds donated from zoos around the world for re-release to their natural habitat. The project’s training center is located at Tegal Bunder Research Station.
Another rare species is the wild javan buffalo (Bos javanicus). Only 30 to 40 remain deep inside the park grounds. Other mammals here include rusa deer, barking deer, mouse deer, leopard, civets, macaques and several species of monkeys.
The National Park’s stated goal is to balance conservation with human needs, now and in the future. Portions of it will be preserved as a wilderness resource. Other areas bordering on existing human settlements have been designated “buffer zones and will continue to provide these communities with needed forest resources. Several coconut and eucalyptus plantations will be reconverted to natural habitats. Still other areas are being exploited for timber. The park is also intended for controlled recreational use by Indonesians and foreigners alike.
Within the park’s boundaries are two well tourist sites. The Banyu Wedang hot spring are considered to have medicinal properties by those who believe and bathe in them. Also found here is the holy grave of Jayaprana(click to see more), a nobleman sent on a fatal mission so the king he served might wed his new bride.