Monday, February 1, 2010

Russian Tourists Saw Kuskus in Manokwari Papua

Last January three Russian tourists came to Manokwari to enjoy the natural beauty of Papuan forest. They walked around the Table Mountain (Gunung Meja) hoping to see Kuskus and other beautiful birds such as White and Goliath Cockatoo and paradise birds (Cendrawasih). Unfortunately, they were not able to see paradise birds and kuskus. They could only see Goliath Cockatoo and Bats in a cave located deep in the jungle of the Table Mountain. These Russian tourists expressed their concerns over the rapidly decreasing number of Kuskus population in Table Mountain's forest where ten years ago, Kuskus could still be seen. Kuskus population in the mountain is in danger of extinction due to huntings. Although this is a protected forest and the hunting activities in the forest have been banned by the government, hunters still kill animals in the forest.
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As we could not locate kuskus in its natural habitat, we had to bring these Russian tourists to the house of Mr. Teniwut which was located some two hundred meters from SDN 1 Kota (formerly known as the Dutch Klim en Daal school). There, we saw a cute Kuskus living in a cage. Mr. Teniwut said that the animal was caught in Senopi village in the mountainous region of Manokwari regency. It is an endemic animal of Papua that is rapidly decreasing in number mostly due to huntings. In the past the local Papuan hunted these animals only for their meat. Now they catch Kuskus alive to sell them to wealthy people who will buy them in high prices. When we visited the Table Mountain several days ago, we saw that the local government had built a concrete gate and constructed a wooden house at the entrance of the forest in the Anggori area. Soon, people who want to enter it have to buy tickets. It means that the forest of the Table Mountain in Manokwari will become Hutan Wisata. If this is really their goal, we hope that the local government will be more serious in protecting the forest and in restoring the population of kuskus and other animals which were onced lived in the Table Mountain.
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This article was written by Charles Roring (contact email peace4wp@gmail.com) to promote eco-tourism in Papua and to support the local people in getting alternative jobs in tourism related industries so that they will not cut the forest or hunt animals in the Table Mountain of Manokwari of West Papua..