Nusu Tenggara Dry Forests

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Group of Komodo dragons (Varanus komodoensis) on Komodo Island, Indonesia.
© WWF-Canon / Michel TERRETTAZ

About the Area

This Global ecoregion is made up of 2 terrestrial ecoregions: Lesser Sundas deciduous forests; Timor and Wetar deciduous forests. Rainfall is not as consistent as in nearby moist forests, with a pronounced dry season.

Lesser Sunda Islands are also known as Nusa Tenggara. They stretch across the Java Sea between Australia and Borneo. These forests are the richest in mammals within the Southeast Asian islands. Although the number of animal species is low, the number of marsupials and mammals, many of which are endemic, demonstrates the Asian and Australian influences on the region's biodiversity.

Size:
73,000 sq. km (28,000 sq. miles)

Habitat type:
Tropical and Subtropical Moist Broadleaf Forests

Geographic Location:
Southeast Asia: Indonesia

Conservation Status:
Critical/Endangered

Local Species
The mammal fauna in Lesser Sundas deciduous forests consists of 50 species, including 5 ecoregional endemics, including the critically endangered Flores shrew (Suncus mertensi) and the vulnerable Komodo rat (Komodomys rintjanus). Others are Flores giant tree-rat (Papagomysarmandvillei), white-toothed shrew (Crocidura neglecta) and flying fox (Pteropus lombocensis).

A fascinating species found here is the world's most restricted large carnivore, the threatened Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis). The Komodo dragon can reach lengths of 3 m (10 ft) - inhabits Komodo and several nearby islands, feeding on deer, wild boar, and other large prey.

Among the numerous bird species are cinnamon-banded kingfisher (Todirhamphus australasia), white-rumped kingfisher (Caridonax fulgidus), bare-throated whistler (Pachycephala nudigula), golden-rumped flowerpecker (Dicaeum annae), crested white-eye (Lophozosterops dohertyi), thick-billed white-eye (Heleia crassirostris), scaly-crowned honeyeater (Lichmera lombokia), sumba flycatcher (Ficedula harterti), apricot-breasted sunbird (Nectarinia buettikoferi), and yellow-spectacled white-eye (Zosterops wallacei).

Nearly 250 different species of birds live in Timor and Wetar deciduous forests, and 24 species are endemic. Five species are threatened: the black cuckoo-dove, Wetar ground-dove, Timor green-pigeon, Timor imperial-pigeon, and iris lorikeet. Also frequenting these forests is the Flores giant rat, one of 38 species of mammals in the ecoregion. Timor is also home to the rare Timor python.
 / ©: WWF-Canon / Martin HARVEY
Spectacled flying fox (Pteropus conspicillatus), Australia.
© WWF-Canon / Martin HARVEY

Featured Species

The Timor python (Python timoriensis) is a slender quick racer of a python, with a long muscular tail. The Timor python is patterned in colors of yellows, tans and browns. It has a distinct pattern of yellow and brown patches from its head to about halfway down its body, where the pattern fades completely into a uniform brown. The Average adult size is 1.6-2.4 m long.

This species is endemic to the Lesser Sundas islands of Indonesia.

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Threats
Accidental and deliberate fires to increase fodder for livestock, cattle grazing, and increasing population on the islands - all pose a threat to the remaining habitat, increasing rates of deforestation. Logging has also grown in importance- for instance, Damar Island was densely forested until the late 1980s, when logging began on a large scale to supply timber to the outer arc islands, where the forests had already been more heavily exploited. This problem is worsening as the human populations expand.
WWF’s work
Together with IUCN and other partners, WWF has developed the Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR) - which aims to reverse the losses and restore forests to a more authentic state. Restoring forests across a landscape can bring benefits such as improved water quality, soil stabilization, better access to food, medicines and raw materials, and stable sources of income for local people.

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