Borneo’S remote Meratus Mountains are home to two species of bird previously unknown to scientists.
According to a new study published in academic journal BirdingASIA, the mountain range in South Kalimantan, Indonesia, is home to two species that have been named the ‘Meratus White-eye’ and the ‘Meratus Jungle Flycatcher.’
Whilst the mountainous regions of Malaysian Borneo in Sarawak and Sabah are relatively well-explored, Indonesia’s Kalimantan provinces have been seldom visited by avian experts. The only previous documented ornithological survey in the region was made in October 1996, was significantly hampered by heavy rainfall, and only focused on areas below 900 metres.
The 2016 study found that habitat between 500 and 700m was largely destroyed for cinnamon and rubber plantations, gradually giving way to degraded forest with recent and ongoing logging activity. Between 900 and 1,400m, where the researchers undertook observation, was closed-canopy forest.
Simon Mitchell, part of the team involved in the exciting double discovery, said “we headed to the area specifically because we knew it was so understudied and there was the chance of some really exciting discoveries.”
“It seems likely there are still a handful of [new] bird species waiting to be found across Borneo and Indonesia, which makes the idea of birding the most remote parts of the region very exciting.”
Borneo is the largest island in Asia, boasts one of the richest ecosystems on earth and is home to many species not found anywhere else.
This includes 420 birds, more than 40 of which are endemic, as well as the pygmy elephant, proboscis monkeys and Asia’s only great ape – the orangutan. Orangutans only exist on Borneo and the Indonesian island of Sumatra.
Across the swamps, mangroves and rainforest of Borneo, some 15,000 plants can be found, 6,000 of which are endemic. According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), three species are discovered every month in the Heart of Borneo conservation area.
But much of the Meratus Mountains remains unprotected, except for southern areas that lie in the Pleihari Martapura Wildlife Reserve – placing the habitats of the Meratus White-eye and Jungle Flycatcher at risk.
This article was part of an article first published in asiancorrespondent.com on 20th March, 2017.