The Bogor Zoological Museum marked its 118th anniversary on Sunday with a call for more efforts to study and conserve Indonesia’s rich plant and animal life, amid threats to their survival.
Rosichon Ubaidillah, head of zoology at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) biology research center, said that in the time since the museum was founded more than a century ago, Indonesia had lost up to 60 percent of its freshwater fauna species.
“In the Ciliwung River alone, 92 percent of all the fish ecosystems have been lost, which indicates that we are losing much of our local biodiversity,” he said.
Siti Nuramaliati Prijono, head of LIPI’s biology research center, said it was important to document Indonesia’s native animal species before they were lost forever, adding that the museum had long pioneered those efforts.
She said only 707 mammal species and 1,602 bird species had been identified to date, along with some 1,100 reptile and amphibian species, 2,200 freshwater fish species, 3,300 marine species and 152,000 insect species.
“This entire collection is stored at the Bogor Zoological Museum,” Siti said.
Rosichon said the museum, known formally by its Latin name, Museum Zoologicum Bogoriense, was the biggest museum of natural history in Southeast Asia.
“It doesn’t just house collections. We also have around 70 researchers working here in their own rooms, and it’s all open to the public,” he said.
“In today’s globalized era, this museum plays a strategic role in identifying Indonesia’s rare and disappearing species.”
Siti said the researchers, all from LIPI, were training others as part of a process to nurture interest and concern among younger generations about the country’s biodiversity. “We don’t want to sit quietly by while foreign scientists study Indonesian species,” she said.
LIPI also used the occasion of the museum’s anniversary to launch an emergency response team on animal issues.
“The formation of the team is LIPI’s response to myriad [animal-related] problems in society, ranging from caterpillar infestations to beached whales,” Siti said.
She added there were many such cases, but the response from the authorities each time was ill-informed, so the handling and resolution of the cases fell short of expectations. This included a recent effort to tow a beached whale back out to sea, only to have boatloads of onlookers spooking the animal back to the shore, where it eventually died.
“In this connection, LIPI plays a role in giving scientific contributions to the resolution of such cases so that policies undertaken will not miss the target,” Siti said.
As part of the anniversary commemoration, LIPI will host an open house at the museum until Tuesday.
Additional reporting from Antara