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Cablegate: New Finds Highlight Indonesian Biodiversity

VZCZCXRO6505
RR RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHJA #1990 3021058
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 281058Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY JAKARTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0441
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 2656
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 5541
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 3211
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 5058
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

UNCLAS JAKARTA 001990

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR OES/ENRC, OES/OMC, OES/OA, EAP/MTS, EAP/RSP
USAID FOR ANE, EGAT [CBARBER, MMELNICK]
COMMERCE FOR NOAA
BANGKOK FOR RDM/A

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV EAID ECON PGOV ID
SUBJECT: NEW FINDS HIGHLIGHT INDONESIAN BIODIVERSITY

1. Summary. Recent discoveries underscore the importance of
efforts like the Coral Triangle and Heart of Borneo Initiatives
(among others) to protect Indonesia and the region's biodiversity.
In Sumatra, naturalists have stumbled across a new species of
barking deer. Researchers have found a new population of a
vulnerable species of sea cow in Central Kalimantan. Meanwhile, the
journal Zootaxa officially reported the discovery of the longest
stick insect in the world in Borneo (Kalimantan). End Summary.

IUCN Lists New Sumatran Barking Deer Species
--------------------------------------------
2. Indonesia has gained a new species of large mammal. The IUCN
(World Conservation Union) Red List of Threatened Species has
accepted and included Muntiacus montanus as a distinctive species of
muntjak or barking deer that appears to live only in mountainous
terrain in Sumatra. A team of tiger conservationists first captured
this species of barking deer in a photograph within Kerinci Seblat
National Park in West Sumatra in 2002. They announced the
discovered at the World Conservation Congress in Barcelona, Spain,
earlier this month. Muntiacus montanus is listed under the category
of "data deficient" because many questions remain about its
endangered status, ecology, distribution, etc.).
There are a couple of records as early as 1914 of a "strange"
muntjak in Aceh (the area occupied by Gunung Leuser National Park)
that may be Muntiacus montanus or another species of muntjak. Some
conservationists believe it is the latter given the bio-geographic
differences between Gunung Leuser and Kerinci Seblat.

Vulnerable Sea Cow Population Found in Kalimantan
--------------------------------------------- ----
3. A team conducting research on sea grass from 2003 to 2007
discovered a new population of sea cow in Central Kalimantan. The
team from the Sea Partnership Program consortium, including the
provincial marine and fisheries department, Palangkaraya University,
and the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) found an estimated 16
dugongs (Dugong dugon) in the waters of West Kotawaringin District.
(Note: the Indonesian Sea Partnership Program is modeled after
NOAA's Sea Grant Program, and started with support from a USAID
coastal management project. End Note.) The dugong is a large --
and the only strictly-marine herbivorous -- marine mammal which,
together with the manatees, is one of four living species of the
order Sirenia. Its range spans the waters of at least 37 countries
throughout the Indo-Pacific, though the majority of dugongs live in
the northern waters of Australia.

4. Although legally protected in Indonesia, the main causes of
population decline include hunting, habitat degradation, and
fishing-related fatalities. Rosette Elbaar, the head of aquaculture
of Central Kalimantan's marine and fisheries department, noted that
one dugong died in 2007 after being caught in a fishing net. With a
lifespan of up to 70 years and a slow rate of reproduction, the
dugong is especially vulnerable to these types of exploitation. The
IUCN lists the dugong as a species vulnerable to extinction, and the
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)
limits or bans the trade of derived products based on the population
involved.

"Chan's Megastick" - As Long as Your Arm
----------------------------------------
5. Phobaeticus chain, or "Chan's Megastick", is officially the
longest insect in the world. At 56.7 centimeters in length with
legs outstretched, it beat the previous record holder, Phobaeticus
serratipes (also found in both Malaysia and Indonesia), by 1
centimeter. The entomologist Philip Bragg formally identified the
stick insect from the Malaysian part of Borneo (Kalimantan) in this
month's issue of peer-reviewed journal Zootaxa. According to Bragg,
a local villager found the specimen and handed it to Malaysian
amateur naturalist Chan Chew Lun in 1989. The insect is named
Phobaeticus chani, or "Chan's megastick," in Chan's honor. The
insect's body alone measures 35.7 centimeters.

HUME

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