Way Kambas

Way Kambas National Park is a national park covering 125.621,30 hectares in Lampung province, Southern Sumatra, Indonesia.

It consists of swamp forest and lowland rain forest, mostly of secondary growth as result of extensive logging in the 1960 and 1970. Despite decreasing populations, the park still has a few critically endangered Sumatran Tigers, Sumatran Elephan and Sumatran Rhinoceroses. It also provides excellent birdwatching, with the rare White-winged Wood Duck among the over 320 species present in the park.

Threats to the park are posed by poaching and habitat loss due to the illegal logging. Conservation efforts include patrolling and the establishment of the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary and the Elephant Conservation Centre.

Way Kambas has ben established as game reserve by the Dutch administration in 1937, but only in 1989 has been declared a National Park.

Significant encroachment has occured along the southern boundary of the park by villagers claiming traditional land rights. Road and trails into the park are starting point for illegal logging that penetrates into the interior of the park. This resulted in the forest coverage declining to 60 % of the park. In 2009 - 2010 an area of 6.000 hectares which was occupied by squatters for decades has been evicted.

Wells left behind by relocated communities in 1984, have proven to be deadly traps for the animals, including baby elephants, rhinos and tigers. In a conservation effort between 2008 and 2010 around 2.000 wells have been closed.

The park has many species of plant include Avicennia marina, Sonneratia species, Nypa fruticans, Melaleuca leucadendra, Syzygium polianthum, Pandanus species, Schima wallichii, Shorea species, Dipterocarpus gracilis and Gonystylus bancanus. The sandy shores or the park are dominated by Casuarina equisetifolia.

The park has 50 species of mammals, many of them critically endangered. There are about 20 Sumatran Rhinoceros in the area, down from around 40 in 1990. The number of Sumatran Elephants in the park was estimated to 180 in 2005. The population of Sumatran Tigers has declined from 36 - 40 in 2000, to less than 30. Other mammals in the park are Malayan Tapir, Dhole (Cuon alpinus sumatrensis) and Siamang (Hylobates syndactylus syndactylus).

Way Kambas has a lot to offer for birdwatchers. Over 320 species of birds have been recorde in the park with several members of prized families like pheasants, broadbills, pittas, hornbills and frogmouths present. The main vegetation type is lowland dipterocarp rainforest, which is almost entirely secondary. Much swamp-forest, especially nibung swamp, are still to be found in mor or less their original condition. These areas are probably the best place in the world to see White-winged Duck (Catrina scutulata). In the dry season, when the water level is low, you have a good chance of finding these shy and wary birds. The most reliable areas have been in the Rawa Gajah (Elephant swamp) swamps upriver from Way Kanan. Other swamp forest specialities also present here include Storm's Stork Ciconia stormi and Lesser Adjutant (Leptoptilos Javanicus).

For most birders, however, Way Kambas means the ultimate night-birding heaven in Asia, not only the great variety of the otherwise scarce and hard to-come-by species is what makes this national park world famous but also the relative ease in finding them. Way Kambas is by far the most reliable site in the world for Large Frogmouth (Batrachostomus auritus) and the near endemic Bonaparte's Nightjar (Caprimulgus concretus). Other interesting nightbirds include Gould's B. stellatus and Sunda Frogmouths B. cornutus, Oriental Bay Owl (Otus rufescens) and Malaysian Eared Nightjar (Eurostopodus temminckii). All these target can be found aling the main jeep-track. Dusk is usually better for the nightjar and scops owls, while later in the night, especially around 22:00 and 04:30, is better for the Frogmouths and Oriental Bay Owl.

If your time in Way Kambas National Park is limited, we would suggest birding at the Way Kanan substation and concentrating on the main jeep track, the loop trail an the Rawa Gajah Swamps.

The Elephant Conservation Centre (ECC) has been established in the 1980. The elephants in the centre have been domesticated and used for heavy work, ecotourism, patrol and breeding. The ECC will be provided with an Elephant Hospital which will become the first of its kind in Indonesia and the largest in Asia. The Elephant hospital will be bulit on a 5-hectares area with a Rp. 10 billion ($ 1,11 million) investment and expected to initial operations in 2014.

Declared by Minister of Forestry and Estate Crop No. 670/Kpts-II/1999, August 26, 1999.