Saturday, February 16, 2013

Collecting in Tana Toraja, Sulawesi, Indonesia

Sulawesi is a huge Indonesian island, as big as Britain, between Borneo and Moluccas. The South of the island near Makassar is very much developed and thus not so interesting for collecting.
But after 12 hours of difficult roads destroyed by monsoon, you reach a paradisiac region in the center of Sulawesi : Tana Toraja.
In this mountainous area, there are still some pristine forests and Toraja people (a Christian tribe) are very welcoming.
Near villages you can find some wonderful lep like Papilio and Graphium. You can also find many wonderful Limenitinae and some Satyridae.
 Papilio gigon gigon, Tana Toraja, Sulawesi
Papilio gigon gigon, Tana Toraja, Sulawesi
Ypthima sp., Tana Toraja, Sulawesi
It is really a pleasant treck to go from villages to villages and find these beautiful Sulawesian common but splendid leps.
Let's add that Tana Toraja is a wonderful place for tourism, many villages exhibit wonderful traditional houses and graves. Toraja people will be happy to show you their treasures, you will feel a little bit like Indiana Jones in some of these places.
Toraja's traditional graves and statues.

But the best spot in Tana Toraja is called "Batutumonga". It's a mountainous village that you can reach by car on a small road with spectacular view.
View on the ricefield from Batutumonga
Batutumonga is about 1800m. high, there you can find many interesting insects including the huge and wonderful Pieridae : Delias rosenbergi chrysoleuca. You can also find many rare Satyridae species.
My most memorable encounter happened during the night. While walking in a small path to digest a delicious Indonesian dinner ("nasi goreng"), I heard a big noise near a stone-wall. With my pocket-lamp, I found a huge three-horn beatle about 12 cm long. It was a male of the wonderful Chalcosoma atlas, he was totally knocked-out after this crash.
 Chalcosoma atlas, 12cm, Batutumonga, 1800m. , Tana Toraja, Sulawesi
 Chalcosma atlas, 12cm, Batutumonga, 1800m. , Tana Toraja, Sulawesi
The morning after, in a sunny day, I found many Delias rosenbergi chrysoleuca in the same path. Batutumonga the place to be in Tana Toraja ! On this website you can see the checklist of Delias species from Sulawesi :

If you go to Sulawesi, it's better to have a good entomological guide that will make you discover those good spots. I can advice you my personnal guide.

You can find Dynastidae for sale here :

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