Mt. Sindoro and Mt. Sumbing are epic reminders of what lies beneath Java, a South-Pacific island nation built over the course of millions of years by plumes of magma that continue to seep through the earth’s thin crust. In time, these molten plumes have created a series of volcanoes, 45 of which are active and located on the island of Java, the world’s 13th largest island. These rugged, volcanic mountains emerge out of the turquoise, rich waters and reefs of the South-Pacific, making Java a biodiversity hot-spot, regarded as a place with a uniquely high diversity of plants and animals, many of which exist nowhere else in the world.
Javan forests are home to six endemic mammals, including the now extinct Javan tiger (Panthera tigris sondaicus), and the critically endangered Javan hawk-eagle (Nisaetus bartelsi) and Javan rhinoceros (Rhinoceros sondaicus), both of which are predicted to become extinct by the end of the century. Other rare and interesting species include the globally threatened wild dog (Cuon alpinus), fishing cat (Felis viverrina) and the endangered Javan leopard (Pantera pardus melas).
The reality of the current state of Java’s natural landscapes is this - merely five percent of the island nation’s pristine landscapes that exist, are shrinking rapidly. Consequently, most, if not all of the animals mentioned will become extinct in the coming years.
Java may seem far off and obscure to some, but to contextualize these extinctions, consider this: “a report released on September 8th, 2014 by the National Audubon Society found that climate change is likely to so alter the bird population of North America that about half of the approximately 650 species will be driven to smaller spaces or forced to find new places to live, feed and breed over the next 65 years. If they do not — and for several dozen it will be very difficult — they could become extinct.” (New York Times 9/8/2014)