Life in the forest

Background - 26 October, 2007
Few places can match the biodiversity of the Paradise Forests for volume, variety and biological importance.

Trogonoptera brookiana birdwing butterfly.

Orang-utans, elephants, tigers, rhinoceros, more than 1,500 species of birds and thousands of plant species are all a part of the natural wonder of Indonesia.

The island of New Guinea supports 17,000 species of plants, 233 species of mammals, 650 species of birds and 275 species of reptiles. Half of the animals found on this island are unique to the region and those are only the animals that have been identified so far; new species are still being discovered.

A recent scientific expedition into the Foja Mountains in Papua in December 2005 uncovered a lost world deep in the heart of the Paradise Forests, untouched by humans, with animals never before seen.

More than 20 new species of frogs were discovered along with four new types of butterflies, a new species of honeyeater bird, five new species of palm and many other plants yet to be classified, including what may be the world's largest rhododendron flower.

In other parts of the Paradise Forests new animals are also being found. For example, researchers in Borneo recently discovered a new lemur-like mammal.

These new discoveries highlight how vital it is that we prevent the further destruction of unique ancient forest ecosystems.


This extraordinary biological diversity is critically threatened by destructive and illegal logging.

  • In Papua New Guinea, 58 of the 260 known mammal species and 33 of the 720 known bird species are threatened.
  • Javan rhinoceros once roamed throughout South East Asia. It is estimated that there are now less than 100.
  • Sumatran tigers, the last of the island tigers, are also in danger, numbering just 500 in the wild.
  • Orang-utans are unique to the Paradise Forests. One of our closest animal relatives, they face multiple threats, including habitat loss through logging and hunting.
  • At the end of 2002, it was estimated only 3,500 Sumatran orang-utans remained and these are in protected areas too small for their long-term survival.
  • The world's largest butterfly, Queen Alexandra's Birdwing, is found only in lowland forests in a specific area of the northern province of Papua New Guinea. With a wingspan of up to 30 centimetres, this giant insect is on the endangered list as its rainforest habitat is being destroyed.
  • Thirty eight of the forty two known species of Bird of Paradise (Paradisea ragianna) are found on the island of New Guinea. The Bird of Paradise is the national emblem of Papua New Guinea.

Wildlife of the Paradise forests

Proboscis monkeys jumping between trees. zoom

The tropical forests of Asia Pacific that span New Guinea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the nearby archipelagos is home to a beautiful variety of life. Explore the region through the award winning photographs of Takeshi Mizukoshi who has devoted his life to photographing the world's remaining ancient forests.