Buitenzorg, ‘beyond cares’ of a ‘botanical island’

Buitenzorg was the previous name of the Bogor Botanical Garden, a plant conservation garden marked by the large buttresses of Canarium tree close to the gate. Established in 1817 by Prof. Dr. C. G. L. Reindwardt in collaboration with Kew Garden in England, this 87 hectares botanical garden becomes the leading natural plant preservation site in Indonesia and one of the most picnic destinations for many families. That was why I prefer to visit here during weekdays this summer.

Amongst the 15,000 of plants preserved here, I chose to try having a ‘butterfly walk’. Located 60 km from Jakarta and nowadays surrounded by buildings and residential areas, this garden becomes a ‘refugia’ for many wildlife species, birds in particular. I don’t know with butterflies, but a nice morning walk would certainly worth seeing some butterflies. A Common rose (Pachliopta aristolochiae) welcomed me around the soka bushes but would not let me take a picture. But the rest of the days satisfied my butterfly curiosity.

Bogor Botanical Garden has a pretty good collection of tropical plants, namely the palms and orchids, as well as extensive collections of trees such as Dipterocarpaceae, Leguminosae, and Meliaceae. Many Dutch, German, British, and Indonesian botanists have put so much effort in adding and preserving the plant collections of the Garden. Different variety of plants provides a home for urban butterflies. Butterflies may still visit residential areas but it was interesting that I can see many different species than those who visited my front yard garden at approximately 15-20 km apart from the Botanical Garden. Two additional Junonia spp (pansies, soldiers), the Northern argus (Junonia erigone) and Blue pansy (Junonia orithya) were the ones which like to land on roads and pathways. Many swallowtails were also different, although none of them would stay a bit longer for my camera. I was so happy for my four-hour walk which worth 18 species.

The position of Bogor Botanical Garden of course is closer to several mountains in West Java such as Gunung Gede-Pangrango and long before it was established, this site was used to be a man-made forest built by Prabu Siliwangi (a king of Padjajaran kingdom who ruled West Java during 1474-1513) in the 1500’s. Although today this Garden is isolated from the nearest forested habitats, becoming ‘an island’ in human populated ‘sea’ and several forest birds are locally extinct, the long time of establishment and the plants preserved would probably -still be responsible for the present butterfly diversity. In the loving memory of his wife, Lady Olivia Mariamne Raffles, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles (the Lieutenant Governor of Java 1813-1816) built a memorial monument such like the preserving memory is remained in the preserved plants…………

“Oh thou whom ne’er my constant heart

One moment hath forgot

Tho’ fate severe hath bid us part

Yet still-forget me not”


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