The animal and plant life is strongly influenced by the fact that Indonesia lies between the Asian mainland and the Australian continent. The dividing line between these two, the Wallacea line, runs from the east of Borneo in the north and to the east of Bali in the south, and in a marginal zone there is a mixture of Asian and Australian animal species, mainly in Nusa Tenggara, Sulawesi and the Moluccas. West of this line there are Asian species such as rhinoceros, tiger, elephant, tapir and orangutan, on the east side there are Australian species such as cockatoo, birds of paradise and various species of marsupials.
Many species are only found on one or a few islands, such as the orangutan and Komodo dragon. Unfortunately, several species are threatened with extinction, mainly due to human intervention in their natural habitat. Several national parks have now been created where these animals can live in peace, but time will tell if this is enough.
The country also has a very varied plant life, with more than 40,000 species, of which 3,000 different types of trees and 5,000 species of orchids. The most distinctive plant is probably the smelly Rafflesia, the world’s largest flower. It blooms only rarely and has a strong smell of rotting flesh. Large areas of the country are still covered by tropical rainforest, but unfortunately, as in other tropical regions, uncontrolled extraction of timber is a major threat to the diversity that these forests represent.
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