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Sulawesi karst. Credit: Tony Whitten

Sulawesi karst. Credit: Tony Whitten

Protecting South Sulawesi karst landscapes


Bantimurung-Bulusaraung National Park in South Sulawesi is characterised by steep, forest-clad hills and deep caves and contains the second largest karst (naturally eroded limestone) landscape in the world (after South China). Maros-Pangkep karst landscape covers about 40,000 hectares and features a distinctive type of karst formation known as tower karst.

Some of the caves are prehistoric, with ancient wall paintings, and other caves are renowned as the deepest and longest in Indonesia – the deepest single well (260 metres) is found in Leaputte Leang and the longest cave (estimated to reach 2,700 metres) is found in the Kallang Salukkan cave system. The landscape is home to dozens of species that are unique to this area, including a highly adapted, long-legged blind crab and a virtually blind fish. Despite its geological uniqueness and historical significance, this landscape is threatened by illegal activities such as logging and limestone mining.

Since 2015, Fauna & Flora has been working under a grant from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund to review the boundaries of Bantimurung-Bulusaraung National Park and conserve this distinctive and threatened landscape and the remarkable biodiversity that it supports. We have been surveying some of the smaller hills beyond the park itself to help determine whether they have valuable biodiversity, as a first step to proposing new boundaries. We are also raising awareness of this type of biodiversity, and are working with two large cement companies to gain their support for conservation.