Defending Paradise

Conserving Cenderawasih in Malaumkarta Raya

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Cenderawasih Kuning Kecil (Lesser bird-of-paradise) in the deep forest of Papua. Foto: Tim Laman/ IG @timlaman

Forests in Malaumkarta Raya, Makbon District, West Papua, are one of the habitations of birds-of-paradise or cenderawasih. The most eminent spot to watch cenderawasih is at Malagufuk, an ecotourism village. Moi Tribe dwelling in the region has local wisdom to protect cenderawasih in Malaumkarta Raya, despite the fact that cenderawasih does not only live in Malagufuk, but also in some forests at Malaumkarta Raya. 

Ecotourism, Part of Cenderawasih Conservations 

Malagufuk is deemed the most popular destination of birdwatching at Malaumkarta Raya compound which lures domestic and international holidaymakers. Since 2016, the village has relied independently on their lives from birdwatching as the ecotourism potential. 

Charles Roring, West Papua’s Chairman for Indonesian Tourist Guide Association (HPI), actively promotes tourism in Tanah Papua through social media. He also put some local distinction in writing in some blogs and his articles successfully lure visitors to Malagufuk ecotourism. Ecotourism in Malagufuk is managed by villagers who earn for their livelihood. 

“I wrote hundreds of articles on travelling on internet. Many people read them and expressed their interests to pay a visit to West Papua. My first guest  in Malagufuk came from Germany,” said Charles.

Read also: Malagufuk Ecotourism Village Maintaining and caring Forests 

Malaumkarta Raya Forests, Habitat of Various Cenderawasih Species

In Malagufuk, tourists could watch birds at Klasouw forest. In this forest, tourists would find some kinds of cenderawasih, such as Cenderawasih Kuning Kecil (Lesser bird-of-paradise) and Magnificent Riflebird (Ptiloris magnificus). Not only in Malagufuk Village, forests at the customary areas owned by 14 local sub-tribes at Malaumkarta Raya are also home to multifarious cenderawasih.

Johan Kalami, a youngster of Malaumkarta Youth Generation (PGM), said that Cenderawasih Belah Rotan (Cicinnurus magnificus) and Cenderawasih Kuning Kecil (Lesser bird-of-paradise) can be found on the thick jungle of Kalami customary areas nearby his residence at Malaumkarta Village. “Actually, there are many more kinds of cenderawasih in our customary forests, but we could not memorize their names,” said Johan.

As to Johan, Cenderawasih Kuning Kecil and Cenderawasih Belah Rotan are the most distinctive ones. “It is hard to find Belah Rotan. If it is found in the jungle, usually they are couples, male and female. The couple usually plays together. It is unlike Cenderawasih Kuning Kecil which tends to play with their peers on the tree as they are many in numbers,” said Johan. He often documents cenderawasih and uploads them on YouTube to promote Malaumkarta Raya richness to the public. As to him, Cenderawasih Belah Rotan is unique due to the spiral-like unique curvy tail of the male. 

Cenderawasih Belah Rotan or Magnificent Bird-of-paradise (Cicinnurus magnificus). The male birds have unique curvy tail Photo: Tim Laman/ IG @timlaman

Based on birdsoftheworld, Cenderawasih Belah Rotan or Magnificent Bird-of-paradise (Cicinnurus magnificus) is close to its relative, Cenderawasih Botak or Wilson’s Bird-of-paradise (Cicinnurus respublica) found only in Waigeo and Batanta Islands, Raja Ampat. Both male birds have curvy tails. Cenderawasih Botak has red, yellow and blue colors on the head. Meanwhile, Cenderawasih Belah Rotan is brown, yellow with green color on the chest. 

Read also: Malaumkarta Requires Next Generation to Revive Tradition 

“Egek”, Traditional Conservation of Cenderawasih

As to Johan, forests surrounding Malaumkarta Raya have been cleared out. “When forest is cleared, cenderawasih will go away leaving the forests. But when deforestation stops with no more logging and is back to its green cover, they (cenderawasih) will be back (to the forest). Cenderawasih is very sensitive to annoying sounds. So, when there is aggravating sound from deforestation, they will be bothered and get away,” he said.

Malaumkarta Raya is surrounded by dense rainforest which also habitat for birds-of-paradise or cenderawasih. Photo: Doc. EcoNusa/ Moch Fikri

From his childhood, Johan and his local colleague always got words from their parents and elder generations of his own tribe as saying that the existence of cenderawasih is very crucial to their sustainable generation, and for this reason they should be protected. Formerly, around 1980-1990s, cenderawasih is easily found nearby the local hamlets. But now, those birds could be only found when we go deeper into the jungle.

Read also: Regulation Holding Up Tradition Knowledge 

In addition to customary land mapping undergone by Malaumkarta Raya youngsters, forest protection is also done through a so-called egek, a local terminology of traditional conservation which bans any act that takes or destroys natural resources in the forests and ocean. To Moi Tribe, cenderawasih has special meaning in relation to tradition and thus people are prohibited to catch or hunt cenderawasih. This is part of the traditional conservation, egek

“Any violation will bear penalty by providing an east fabric or head fabric which is priceless and even has higher price than money as the fabric is a customary symbol which is very rare,” Johan said.

Cenderawasih habitat conservation including Malaumkarta Raya forests are not the sole responsibility of the indigenous people, but also all stakeholders. Without sound forests, climate change remains uncontrollable. Let us support rainforests conservation in Tanah Papua and Maluku Island as the habitat of cenderawasih by giving your support testimonial. Please click here!

Author: V. Arnila Wulandani & Lutfy Mairizal Putra

Editor: Leo Wahyudi

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