Day 3 The weather had
remained good and we awoke to a clear, bright morning. We had
decided to head back to Grajagan early as we still had a lot
of ground to cover on this third and final day in the region.
Nonetheless, there was time for some more exploring and we set
off along the beach in the opposite direction to the one we'd
taken on the previous evening. After a few hundred metres we
came to a small estuary. Fortunately the tide was still low and
had not yet covered up the evidence of pre-dawn activity. Animal
tracks at the water's edge were clearly visible and we could
identify them as deer, wild pig and some kind of large cat. This
led us to recall a conversation with one of the Australian surfers
the previous evening. He had shown us a photograph which a friend
of his had taken at the same estuary. It showed a human foot
beside an extremely large paw mark in the sand, which hewas certain
could only be the track of a tiger.
Then there is the almost extinct Javanese tiger (panthera tigris sondaica L.). Estimates of the numbers of this species remaining range from three to about eight, yet no one is really certain. An intensive study in 1978 concluded that there were between three and five, and in 1981 the footprints of a large male were identified. Sadly, however, the general consensus is that this animal will, before long, become extinct, the chances of its survival being hampered still more by the fact that the high rain forest, to where it has been forced to retreat, is a far from suitable habitat.
Conservation efforts at Meru Betiri are focused largely on the turtle nesting beaches, of which Sukamade is the most famous. Five species of turtle are known to lay eggs here. Emerging from the sea under cover of darkness, usually bet wee about 9 p.m. and midnight, the turtles crawl slowly up the beach, deposit their eggs be neat half a metre of sand and return to the water in process that takes several hours to complete. he number of the creatures appearing each evening depends largely on the season, although there tends to be more activity around the time of the full moon. Wardens at the beach collect the egg shortly after they are laid and rebury them in; safe place, away from poachers and from the danger of being eaten by leopards, which may be seen lurking in anticipation on the edge of the forest.
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