Natural World: Wild Indonesia
Strung out along 5000 kilometers of the Equator, between Asia and Australia, Indonesia's 17,000 islands make up the largest and most varied archipelago on Earth. From freezing glaciers to coral reefs, orangutans to Komodo dragons, the sheer diversity of landscapes and life defies the imagination. This 3-part series tells the story of one of the world's most fascinating regions and its magical wildlife.
Island Castaways (#101Z) Duration: 49:10 STEREO TVG
Shrouded in mystery, Indonesia is a bizarre and beautiful place, home to dinosaur-like komodo dragons and tree kangaroos, tropical beaches and snowy mountain peaks. Indonesia is nicknamed "the ring of fire", as this 3000-mile chain of 17,000 islands was created by volcanic eruptions 150 million years ago.Today, there are 155 active volcanoes in Indonesia, and one erupts every day, making this the most violent volcanic region on earth.
Isolated on the distant island of Komodo, heavyweight Komodo dragons throw themselves at each other as they do battle for a mate. On Sulawesi, weird maleo birds incubate their huge eggs in hot volcanic sand and on Borneo proboscis monkeys leap across rivers, trying to avoid falling into the mouths of waiting crocodiles.Also castaway on this island, a female red-knobbed hornbill walls herself up in a tree hole for three months to protect her and her chick, and relies on her mate to feed her figs. With 150 million people, Java is the most densely populated island in the world and it has the largest Buddist temple - the stunning ruins of Borobudhur that date from the 8th century.
Underwater Wonderland (#102Z) Duration: 49:10 STEREO TVG
Indonesia is one of the world's natural wonders. In its underwater wonderland, flamboyant reef fish, huge manta rays and shimmering schools of barracudas ride the strong currents that flow between the 17,000 islands that form stepping-stones between Asia and Australia.
The coral reefs are the rainforests of the sea, and here bumphead parrotfish bite off tasty chunks of living coral and hovering cuttlefish mesmerise their prey by pulsing bands of light along their bodies. Deep down, a 12-meter whale shark patrols the waters but despite the fact it has a mouth so wide that it could swallow a man whole, it's a vegetarian, feeding on tiny plankton.
Wildlife in Indonesia is weird. There are pygmy seahorses no larger than a fingernail and batfish that swim along the sea bottom mimicking waterlogged mangrove leaves. The strangest of all is a masterly quick-change artist, the mimic octopus. This bizarre animal can change its body shape and behaviour to impersonate whatever it wants to be - a sand-skimming flounder, a deadly sea snake or a poisonous lionfish. All these disguises help to keep it out of trouble.
The people of the sea are as fascinating as the wildlife. Off the island of Sulawesi, the Bajau people, known as sea gypsies, live on the water. They used to live their entire lives on boats but have now built villages on stilts out on the coral reefs. A child's pet here is not a cat or a dog, but a huge frigate bird.
Magical Forest (#103Z) Duration: 48:59 STEREO TVG
Kangaroos in trees and flying foxes - nowhere else on the planet are their animals as weird and wonderful as in the forests of Indonesia. Despite all the destruction, two thirds of Indonesia is still jungle and, as the islands of Indonesia connect Australia to Asia, it's a unique meeting point for wildlife from East and West.
This episode enters the steamy jungles of Borneo, Sumatra and Java where highly endangered Asian elephants and hairy rhinos still roam.The forests are also home to the World's largest flower, Rafflesia, and Amorphophallus, which has an 11-foot flower spike. High up in the canopy, the early morning air resonates with the mating calls of gibbons that swing gracefully through the trees. On Borneo, orangutans tend to spend the night in specially built tree nests, coming down to ground in the day to move around. The orangutans in Sumatra are more likely to remain in the trees, safely out of reach of the Sumatran tigers that patrol the forest floor.
Over in the New Guinea jungle, thousands of miles to the east, the local wildlife has an Australian feel.The forest floor is prowled by spiny echidnas, a primitive type of anteater, and quolls, vicious cat-like marsupials. The most unusual mammals are sluggish tree kangaroos with very low metabolisms, hanging out in the canopy. Also up here are the little-known treehouse people who live in fragile homes perched precariously in the highest branches.
The birds of paradise are the glamorous stars of Indonesia's forests. Males sport flamboyant plumage and perform outrageous dances to win over the females. Just a few animals can be found throughout the Indonesian forests, such as flying foxes. The flying foxes are the biggest bats in the World and can fly up to 60 kilometers a night searching for food. They are also the most successful of all Indonesia's incredible creatures.