Friday, March 19, 2010

Discussion About Bird Watching in Manokwari

This morning I and Paul Warere (a Papuan artist) went to YAT Losmen. We went there on the invitation of Miss Grietje, a volunteer from SDSP who is working on the promotion of tourism and many other sustainable programs in Manokwari of Papua Barat region. I would meet Zeth Wonggor. Grietje asked me to mention him in my next brochure when I talk about eco-tourism activities in Arfak Mountain. It was several minutes after nine a.m. when we arrived at YAT Lomen. Grietje, Zeth Wonggor and a woman were sitting in the kitchen. I was then introduced to her. Her name was Maria Prativi and she was from Papua Bird Club. As soon as I and Paul sat, we started our discussion about ecotourism. 
First, I gave a brochure about Papuan Artists in Manokwari which was still not finished yet. I hope to finish it this week. Maria explained how, at the beginning (around 15 years ago), she and her husband started to bring tourists for bird watching in Syiobri village as a way to introduce forest conservation to the indigenous Papuan people who live in the Mokwam area. It was hard at that time because the Papuan did not understand what the terminology of conservation was, and how it was very important to them. Gradually, after they got some income from being forest guide, they later changed the terminology into a local language which is equivalent to "conservation". Their local term for the conservation is Iya Ser Hanjom which can literally be translated as "keep protect the land border."
Zeth Wonggor explained to me that he was a leading hunter in his village before being a forest guide. The first time he and a tourist entered the jungle, the tourist gave him binoculars to see birds. He said "Oh, these were good. I could use them to stone a bird easily." After locating a bird at a tree, he picked up some stones and wanted to throw them to the bird but the tourist exclaimed "No!" After watching the birds, the tourist gave him some money for his service in showing where the birds usually play in the jungle. Zeth Wonggor asked, "Mister, I did not catch a bird for you, why you gave me money?" But the tourist replied, "It's OK. You can get more money by guiding tourists in the forest and not killing birds." Since that time, Zeth stopped shooting birds and has worked as forest guide until now. 
After talking for several hours, I was impressed by how they (Maria Prativi and Zeth Wonggor) empower the local people in preserving their surrounding environment by distributing the revenue paid by tourists and how they give special attention to the education of children in Syioubri village. The PBC with their limited resources gives scholarships to a number of students. The organisation also provide free school supplies to them.
I am planning to visit Syioubri village of Mokwam area when I plan to write about Ms. Maria and Zeth Wonggor activities on ecotourism. I also hope that this morning's discussion at kitchen of YAT Losmen would be a great beginning for a closer and more intense cooperation among all of the operators of ecotourism in Manokwari of West Papua. by Charles Roring