West Bali National Park is one of the most popular Bali Places of Interest features unique ecosystems which are also the original habitat of the rare Bali Starling (Leucopsar rothschildi). West Bali National Park’s boundary includes open savannahs, dense rainforests, mangrove swamps, coral reefs and includes a small island reserve off the north coast of Bali, Pulau Menjangan, which is also referred to as Deer Island. The park is home to over 300 different species of animals and birds, most particularly the endangered starling.
Additionally, Pulau Menjangan, home to the rare Javan rusa or menjangan (Cervus timorensis), attracts visitors the world over due to its excellent diving and snorkelling. You must be accompanied by an official guide and in possession of a park permit, to enter the park’s areas. Over 15,000Ha of West Bali National Park area is overland terrain, while another 3,000Ha are marine areas that are administratively part of the Jembrana and Buleleng regencies.
West Bali National Park is managed in a zoning system, consisting of the Main, Jungle, Marine Protected, Utility, Cultural, Religious and Historical, Special and Traditional Zones. Taman Nasional Bali Barat is a frequent site for scientific research and conservation as well as tourism and recreational features that all coexist in one region. Most of its topography consists of slopes with the highest elevation being that of Mount Sangiang summit.
There are four peaks in the region, namely Mount Prapat Agung at 310m above sea level, Mount Banyuwedang at 430m, Mount Klatakan at 698m, and the highest, Mount Sangiang at 1,000m. In the surrounding waters are four islets namely the 175Ha Menjangan Island, Burung Island, Gadung Island, and Kalong Island.
Protected fauna at the West Bali National Park include the endemic starling, the scaly anteater or Sunda Pangolin (Manis javanica), the black giant squirrel (Ratufa bicolour), the Malayan Porcupine (Hystrix brachyura), the marbled cat (Felis marmorata), the Javan rusa or menjangan (Cervus timorensis), the banteng or wild cattle (Bos javanicus), the mouse deer or kancil (Trangulus javanicus ), the water monitor (Varanus salvator) and the Olive ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea).
Ecotourism facilities include a number of attractions within and around the West Bali National Park margins. Inside are several ancient temples, and various shelters are spread out within the park. A national park information centre can be found along the Jalan Raya Cekik-Gilimanuk road. Based on its general elevation, the national park consists of different ecosystems; mangroves, coastal forests, seasonal forests, lowlands, evergreen forests, savannahs and river rainforests.
The waters around the park contain coral reefs and seagrass meadows. West Bali National Park is located approximately two kilometres from Gilimanuk seaport and a three-hour drive from Denpasar. Other attractions such as temples and historical sites can be found near the port, such as the Archaeological Museum or Museum Purbakala.
The history of West Bali National Park dates back to when German naturalist and ornithologist (formerly of the bird department of the Berlin Zoological Museum), Erwin Stresemann, was forced to dock at Singaraja on March 24, 1911, so that his second Maluku (Moluccas) expedition ship could undergo a three-month overhaul. He discovered the Bali Starlings on one of his researches carried out in the village of Bubunan, around 50 km from Singaraja.
German ornithologist, Viktor von Plessen, then further conducted intensive research in 1925 based on Stresemann’s notes, and it was concluded that the Bali Starling habitat covered an expanse from Bubunan to Gilimanuk and it was later discovered that the species was endemic to the region only.
To protect the rare species as well as other animals including the now extinct Bali tiger (Panthera tigris balica), or harimau Bali in Indonesian, a regulation was set in 1947 by declaring the 19,365Ha of forest lands around Banyuwedang a nature park. And according to the Nature Protection Ordinance of 1941 its status paralleled a nature reserve.
Then in 1970 its management was handed over to the government of Indonesia through its forestry department and was given its current designation, Taman Nasional Bali Barat or the West Bali National Park. As it is a protected region, each visitor requires a permit to enter West Bali National Park. The main zones are restricted access areas meant only for scientific research. The jungle zone supports the main zone, where only limited ecotourism is permitted.
The Intensive Utility zone is where ecotourism infrastructures and other facilities are allowed especially those that support conservation. The last zone, the cultural utility zone, allows for cultural and religious activities to be carried out accordingly. These zones include Menjangan Island, Terima Bay, Prapat Agung, Bakungan, and Klatakan. Tourism activities here include snorkelling, sightseeing on outriggers, diving, trekking, bird watching, and many other options.