INDONESIAN CITYZEN: The original world citizens
Indonesian Cityzen is a collection of oil paintings that aims to raise awareness, and ultimately help, one of Indonesia’s most valuable assets – its wondrous diversity of animals.
The exhibition consists of thirteen paintings of animals from throughout this island nation. From the ubiquitous chicken to the endangered Javanese rhinoceros, each animal is an inhabitant of a forest, sea or river – and a true Indonesian citizen.
Indonesia’s rainforests are home to some of the highest levels of biological diversity in the world. Many sources credit Indonesia as the most species rich country on earth. Spread over 18,000 islands, Indonesia contains the world’s third largest area of rain forest after the Amazon and Africa’s Congo Basin.
Unfortunately, these rain forests are being cut down at a rapid rate. Deforestation due to the increasing development of palm oil plantations and illegal logging, poaching, the illegal wildlife trade and overpopulation are all factors that put the survival of many animals at risk.
With just 1 percent of the Earth’s land area, Indonesia’s rain forests contain 10 percent of the world’s known plant species, 12 percent of mammal species – including endangered orangutans and critically endangered Sumatran tigers and rhinos – and 17 percent of all known bird species.
Indonesia has more species of mammal than any other nation, an incredible 515 species. Unfortunately, Indonesia also leads the world in the number of threatened mammals at 135 species, which is nearly a third of all of its native mammals.*
Sumatran Tiger / Harimau Sumatra
Both feared and revered, the Sumatran tiger is found on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, the only place in Indonesia where wild tigers remain today. The famous stripes of the Sumatran tiger are closer together than those on its cousins in Asia and Siberia. This big cat is also a powerful swimmer and even has webbing between its toes so it can swim faster to hunt down its prey. Who knew that a tiger and a duck had anything in common!
Bangkiva Rooster / Ayam Bangkiva
Carl Linnaeus, the Swedish zoologist known as the father of modern taxonomy first coined this chicken the “Bangkiva,” probably because of its origin in Bangka island, an island off the west coast of Sumatra.
This impressive bird is thought to be the ancestor of the domestic chicken. The Bangkiva was first domesticated at least five thousand years ago in Asia, then taken around the world. The domestic form is a source of meat and eggs globally and can be seen roaming freely in front of many houses in villages throughout Indonesia.
This unique animal – considered terrifying by some – is a large species of lizard found on the islands of Komodo, Rinca, Flores, Gili Motang, and Padar in Eastern Indonesia. A member of the monitor lizard family, it is the largest living species of lizard, growing to a maximum length of 3 meters in rare cases and weighing up to approximately 70 kilograms.
Indonesia’s “man of the forest,” the orangutan, resides in the treetops of the islands of Borneo and Sumatra, Indonesia as well as parts of Malaysia. Once plentiful, their numbers have been decreasing rapidly since the early 2000s due to illegal logging and forest fires, as well as fragmentation by roads. A major factor in their decline in the last 15 years has been the conversion of vast areas of tropical forest to palm oil plantations and settlements for those working on the plantations.
Borneo Elephant / Gajah Kalimantan
This “mini” elephant was once believed to have descended from a domesticated herd given to the Sultan of Sulu in the 17th century, but it has now been proven that these Borneo elephants are genetically different from other Asian elephants. Borneo elephants are much smaller than their African and Asian cousins and have relatively larger ears, longer tails and straighter tusks. Today, the elephants of Borneo are the smallest elephants in Asia.
Dugong / Duyung
Duyung means “lady of the sea” in the Indonesian language, and indeed, this animal may have inspired the mermaid myth among sailors. A gentle creature with a graceful, fanned out tail, the dugong is the only strictly marine herbivorous mammal. Although the dugong is revered in parts of Indonesia, sadly, its population has declined substantially over the last century.
Javanese Rhino / Badak Jawa
The elusive Javan rhinoceros is one of the rarest species in the world. Javan rhinos were once living in almost all the mountains in West Java up to an altitude above 3000 meters above sea level, but there now remains an estimated population of no more than 55 individuals in Ujung Kulon National Park, Java.