indonesia travel magazine

East Papua Wasur National Park Introduction

East Papua

Wasur National Park

Introduction

Wasur National Park forms part of the largest wetland in Papua and has been the least disturbed human activity.

Wasur-01-800

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About 70% of the total area of the Park consists of savanna vegetation, while the remaining vegetation is in the form of swamp forest, monsoon forest, coastal forest, bamboo forest, grassy plains and large stretches of sago swamp forest. The dominant plant species in the forest area include api-api (Avicennia sp.), tancang (Bruguiera sp.), ketapang (Terminalia sp.), and cajuput (Melaleuca sp.).
Species of animal commonly seen include the wallaby (Macropus agilis), pesquet s parrot (Psittrichus fulgidus), southern cassowary (Casuarius casuarius sclaterii), blue-crowned pigeon (Goura cristata), greater bird of paradise (Paradisea apoda novaeguineae), king bird of paradise (Cicinnurus regius rex), red bird of paradise (Paradisea rubra), freshwater crocodile (Crocodylus novaeguineae), and saltwater crocodile (C. porosus).
The high value of its biological diversity has led to the Park being dubbed the “Serengeti of Papua”.
The Park’s wetland forms a very productive ecosystem, providing life support and protection for various species of fish, lobster and crab of high economic value.
The vast open wetland, in particular Rawa Biru Lake, has attracted various species of water fowl including migrant birds as well as wallabies and cassowaries to approach and even dwell on the Lake. The Lake is sometimes called “tanah air” (the Motherland), due to the multitude of various animals that crowd around the Lake. This is a superb place to watch animals.
Interesting locations/attractions:
Rawa Biru Lake, Maar, Kakania, Dikbob, Rawa Panjang, Pilmul: watching animals, the lake, horse riding, kayaking/canoeing along the rivers, and sites of cultural interest.
Yanggandur, Soa, Ukra, Onggaya: the savanna, animal observation, kayaking/canoeing along the rivers, fishing, and cultural tourism.
Best time of year to visit: July to November.
How to reach the Park: from Jayapura to Merauke by plane, 1.5 hours; then from Merauke to the Park by car, 1-2 hours via the main Jayapura-Merauke road.

a total area of 413,810 hectares
Access
Wasur – Rawa Biru National Park is easy accessible from Merauke. Public buses from Merauke to the PNG border at Sota run right through the park and can drop you either at the entrance at Wasur village or at the turn-off to Yangandur, which is then 1.5 hour walk. The trans-Irian highway, which connects Merauke with Tanah Merah bisects the park.
Accommodation
There is simple accomoddation in the park but you should bring food and water.
* Merauke
o Many possibilities
* Yanggandur
o WWF Guesthouse
* Onggaya
o Guesthouse
* Soa
o Guesthouse
Addresses
WWF, Jl. Raya Sepadem 9, Merauke.
YAPSEL, Jl. Missi, Merauke.
PHPA, Jl. Garuda, Mopah Lama (near Wasur).

Flora
* Acanthus spp.
* Acrostichum spp.
* Avicennia spp.
* Azolla spp.
* Bruguiera spp.
* Eucalyptus spp.
* Lemina spp.
* Livistona spp.
* Lotus spp.
* Melaleuca leucodendron
* Nymphaea spp.
* Praghmites karka
* Rhizophora spp.
* Sonneratia spp.
* Utricularia spp.

Mammals
* Short-beaked echidna – Tachyglossus aculeatus
* Black-tailed antechinus – Antechinus melanurus
* New Guinea marsupial cat – Dasyurus albopunctatus
* Short-furred dasyure – Murexia longicaudata
* Three-striped dasyure – Myoictis melas
* Red-cheeked dunnart – Sminthopsis virginiae
* Northern brown bandicoot – Isoodon macrourus
* Spiny echymipera – Echymipera kalubu
* Rufous spiny bandicoot – Echymipera rufescens
* Feather-tailed possum – Distoechurus pennatus
* Common forest wallaby – Dorcopsis muelleri
* Agile wallaby – Macropus agilis
* Dusky pademelon – Thylogale brunii
* Long-fingered triok – Dactylopsila palpator
* Striped possum – Dactylopsila trivirgata
* Sugar glider – Petaurus breviceps
* Ground cuscus – Phalanger gymnotis
* Southern common cuscus – Phalanger intercastellanus
* Spotted cuscus – Spilocuscus maculatus
* Lesser long-tongued fruit bat – Macroglossus minimus
* Southern blossom bat – Syconycteris australis
* Broad-striped tube-nosed bat – Nyctimene aello
* Common tube-nosed bat – Nyctimene albiventer
* Pallas’s tube-nosed fruit bat – Nyctimene sp. cf. cephalotes
* Round-eared tube-nosed bat – Nyctimene cyclotis
* Lesser tube-nosed fruit bat – Nyctimene draconilla
* Greater bare-backed fruit bat – Dobsonia magna
* Central flying fox – Pteropus alecto
* Spectacled flying fox – Pteropus conspicillatus
* Big-eared flying fox – Pteropus macrotis
* Bismarck flying fox – Pteropus neohibernicus
* Common rousette – Rousettus amplexicaudatus
* Beccari’s sheath-tailed bat – Emballonura beccarii
* Greater sheath-tailed bat – Emballonura furax
* Raffray’s sheath-tailed bat – Emballonura raffrayana
* Lesser sheath-tailed bat – Mosia nigrescens
* Pouch-bearing bat – Saccolaimus saccolaimus
* Dusky leaf-nosed bat – Hipposideros ater
* Spurred leaf-nosed bat – Hipposideros calcaratus
* Diadem leaf-nosed bat – Hipposideros diadema
* Northern mastiff bat – Chaerephon jobensis
* Beccari’s mastiff bat – Mormopterus beccarii
* Broad-eared horseshoe bat – Rhinolophus euryotis
* Large-footed myotis – Myotis adversus
* Short-winged brown bat – Philetor brachypterus
* Papuan pipistrelle – Pipistrellus papuanus
* Lesser bent-winged bat – Miniopterus australis
* Large bent-winged bat – Miniopterus magnater
* Rusa deer – Cervus timorensis
* Wild pig – Sus scrofa
* Common water-rat – Hydromys chrysogaster
* Coarse-haired hydromyine – Parahydromys asper
* New Guinea jumping mouse – Lorentzimys nouhuysi
* White-bellied melomys – Melomys leucogaster
* Lorentz’s melomys – Melomys lorentzii
* Little melomys – Melomys lutillus
* Southern melomys – Melomys moncktoni
* Lowland melomys – Melomys platyops
* Rufescent melomys – Melomys rufescens
* Lowland brushrat – Pogonomelomys bruijni
* Chestnut tree-mouse – Pogonomys macrourus
* Mottle-tailed giant rat – Uromys caudimaculatus
* House mouse – Mus musculus
* Ricefield rat – Rattus argentiventer
* Southern spiny rat – Rattus leucopus
* Norway rat – Rattus norvegicus
* House rat – Rattus rattus
* Canefield rat – Rattus sordidus

Possibly
* Bronze marsupial cat – Dasyurus spartacus
* Papuan planigale – Planigale novaeguineae
* Red-legged pademelon – Thylogale stigmatica
* Little red flying fox – Pteropus scapulatus
* Delicate mouse – Pseudomys delicatulus

Birds
* Southern Cassowary – Casuarius casuarius
* Orange-footed Scrubfowl – Megapodius reinwardt
* Magpie Goose – Anseranas semipalmata
* Spotted Whistling-Duck – Dendrocygna guttata
* Wandering Whistling-Duck – Dendrocygna arcuata
* Radjah Shellduck – Tadorna radjah
* Green Pygmy-goose – Nettapus pulchellus
* Pacific Black Duck – Anas superciliosa
* Grey Teal – Anas gracilis
* Garganey – Anas querquedula
* Hardhead – Aythya australis
* Blyth’s Hornbill – Aceros plicatus
* Azure Kingfisher – Alcedo azurea
* Little Kingfisher – Alcedo pusilla
* Variable Kingfisher – Ceyx lepidus
* Blue-winged Kookaburra – Dacelo leachii
* Spangled Kookaburra – Dacelo tyro
* Rufous-bellied Kookaburra – Dacelo gaudichaud
* Shovel-billed Kookaburra – Clytoceyx rex
* Blue-black Kingfisher – Todirhamphus nigrocyaneus
* Forest Kingfisher – Todirhamphus macleayii

* Collared Kingfisher – Todirhamphus chloris
* Sacred Kingfisher – Todirhamphus sanctus
* Hook-billed Kingfisher – Melidora macrorrhina
* Yellow-billed Kingfisher – Syma torotoro
* Palm Cockatoo – Probosciger aterrimus
* Sulphur-crested Cockatoo – Cacatua galerita
* Little Corella – Cacatua sanguinea
* Black-capped Lory – Lorius lory
* Papuan Frogmouth – Podargus papuensis
* Pied Imperial-Pigeon – Ducula bicolor
* Southern Crowned-Pigeon – Goura victoria
* Australian Bustard – Ardeotis australis
* Brolga – Grus rubicunda
* Red-necked Crake – Rallina tricolor
* Buff-banded Rail – Gallirallus philippensis
* Bare-eyed Rail – Gymnocrex plumbeiventris
* New Guinea Flightless Rail – Megacrex inepta
* Purple Swamphen – Porphyrio porphyrio
* Black-tailed Godwit – Limosa limosa
* Bar-tailed Godwit – Limosa lapponica
* Little Curlew – Numenius minutus
* Whimbrel – Numenius phaeopus
* Far Eastern Curlew – Numenius madagascariensis
* Marsh Sandpiper – Tringa stagnatilis
* Common Greenshank – Tringa nebularia
* Wood Sandpiper – Tringa glareola
* Terek Sandpiper – Tringa cinerea
* Common Sandpiper – Tringa hypoleucos
* Ruddy Turnstone – Arenaria interpres
* Asian Dowitcher – Limnodromus semipalmatus
* Broad-billed Sandpiper – Limicola falcinellus
* Red-necked Phalarope – Phalaropus lobatus
* Comb-crested Jacana – Irediparra gallinacea
* Beach Thick-knee – Esacus neglectus
* Pied Oystercatcher – Haematopus longirostris
* White-headed Stilt – Himantopus leucocephalus
* Pacific Golden-Plover – Pluvialis fulva
* Grey Plover – Pluvialis squatarola
* Mongolian Plover – Charadrius mongolus
* Greater Sand Plover – Charadrius leschenaultii
* Red-kneed Dotterel – Erythrogonys cinctus
* Australian Pratincole – Stiltia isabella
* Silver Gull – Larus novaehollandiae
* Gull-billed Tern – Sterna nilotica
* Caspian Tern – Sterna caspia
* Great Crested-Tern – Sterna bergii
* Lesser Crested-Tern – Sterna bengalensis
* Roseate Tern – Sterna dougallii
* Black-naped Tern – Sterna sumatrana
* Common Tern – Sterna hirundo
* Little Tern – Sterna albifrons
* Brown Noddy – Anous stolidus
* Osprey – Pandion haliaetus
* Long-tailed Honey-buzzard – Henicopernis longicauda
* Black-winged Kite – Elanus caeruleus
* Black Kite – Milvus migrans
* Whistling Kite – Haliastur sphenurus
* Brahminy Kite – Haliastur indus
* White-bellied Fish-Eagle – Haliaeetus leucogaster
* Swamp Harrier – Circus approximans
* Brown Goshawk – Accipiter fasciatus
* New Guinea Harpy Eagle – Harpyopsis novaeguineae
* Gurney’s Eagle – Aquila gurneyi
* Wedge-tailed Eagle – Aquila audax
* Little Eagle – Hieraaetus morphnoides
* Oriental Hobby – Falco severus
* Australian Hobby – Falco longipennis
* Little Grebe – Tachybaptus ruficollis
* Australasian Grebe – Tachybaptus novaehollandiae
* Red-footed Booby – Sula sula
* Brown Booby – Sula leucogaster
* Australian Darter – Anhinga novaehollandiae
* Little Pied Cormorant – Phalacrocorax melanoleucos
* Little Black Cormorant – Phalacrocorax sulcirostris
* Great Cormorant – Phalacrocorax carbo
* Forest Bittern – Zonerodius heliosylus
* Yellow Bittern – Ixobrychus sinensis
* Black Bittern – Ixobrychus flavicollis
* Rufous Night-Heron – Nycticorax caledonicus
* White-faced Heron – Egretta novaehollandiae
* Little Egret – Egretta garzetta
* Pacific Reef-Egret – Egretta sacra
* Pacific Heron – Ardea pacifica
* Great-billed Heron – Ardea sumatrana
* Pied Heron – Ardea picata
* Great Egret – Ardea alba
* Intermediate Egret – Ardea intermedia
* Cattle Egret – Bubulcus ibis
* Striated Heron – Butorides striatus
* Glossy Ibis – Plegadis falcinellus
* Australian Ibis – Threskiornis molucca
* Straw-necked Ibis – Threskiornis spinicollis
* Royal Spoonbill – Platalea regia
* Australian Pelican – Pelecanus conspicillatus
* Black-necked Stork – Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus
* Noisy Pitta – Pitta versicolor
* Little Friarbird – Philemon citreogularis
* Noisy Friarbird – Philemon corniculatus
* Blue-faced Honey-eater – Entomyzon cyanotis
* Glossy-mantled Manucode – Manucodia atra
* Magnificent Riflebird – Ptiloris magnificus
* King Bird-of-paradise – Cicinnurus regius
* Twelve-wired Bird-of-paradise – Seleucidis melanoleuca
* Greater Bird-of-paradise – Paradisaea apoda
* Spangled Drongo – Dicrurus bracteatus
* Fly River Grassbird – Megalurus albolimbatus
* White-spotted Munia – Lonchura leucosticta
* Grey-crowned Munia – Lonchura nevermanni
* Black Munia – Lonchura stygia

Reptiles
* New Guinea Plateless Turtle – Carettochelys insculpta
* Frilled Lizard – Chlamydosaurus kingii
* Papuan Monitor – Varanus salvadorii
* Timor Tree Monitor – Varanus timorensis
* Death Adder – Acanthophis antarcticus
* Taipan – Oxyuranus scutellatus
* New Guinea Freshwater Crocodile – Crocodylus novaeguineae
* Estuarine Crocodile – Crocodylus porosus

Fishes
* Irian Bony-tongue – Scleropages jardinii
* Threadfin Rainbow – Iriatherina werneri
* Goldie River Rainbowfish – Melanotaenia goldiei
* Red-Striped Rainbowfish – Melanotaenia splendida rubrostriata

Wasur area, which in fact comprises 11 other villages, has been established as a National Park since March 24, 1990. The designated area measures 413,810 hectares. It is the first National Park in Indonesia which incorporates existing villages, and encourages the residents to take part in managing the Park and the natural resources. It has been officially prepared and developed by both the Forestry Department and the World Wildlife Fondation (WWF) Wasur National Park Project.

The Park is located on the southern coast of Irian Jaya, to the east of the Merauke city and on to the borderline between Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. An asphalt road, which is part of the Trans Irian Jaya road and eventually connects Merauke, Wamena and Jayapura (currently under construction) stretches across the park.

Its history started in 1974. At the time, the Forestry Department designated a 4,000-hectare plot surrounding Rawa Biru Lake as a Nature Reserve, mainly intended to protect the Rawa Biru lake, the one and only water source for the Merauke city. In 1962, the Dutch colonial government installed a water pump near the lake and pipeline from there to the Merauke city. To date the city’s need for water is supplied by this lake.

Wasur National Park is dominated with typical lowland swampy forest, and swampy savannah. The condition changed remarkably following seasonal change. In the dry season, the swampy area dries up completely. Water start filling the area during the wet season, and flooding a lot of other low-lying areas as well. This ecosystems has a kind of similarity with Kakandu National Park in Australia’s Northern Territory, around Darwin.

Several species of Fauna, i.e. Marsupialia Sp. and other pouch-bearing animals, are typical fauna from this kind of ecosystem, now protected in the Park. The wetlandsof the Park area constitutes some of the most important ones in Indonesia for birds. The area also served as a temporal migration stop for Australian and New Zealand birds. The likely list contains more than 114 species which are given protection in Indonesia, including 74 species endemic to Irian Jaya such as the Bird of Paradise.

Several species of the kangaroo, which are always identically associated with the ones living in Australia continental Australia, are found in a great number. They are of course the original species of Irian Jaya.

Another species of Fauna living in this park is deer (Cervus Timorensis). These are migrating animals. According to Father Boelaars in his book, the deer ancestors from Merauke were released to the Merauke forest in 1928. Since then, the deer population has risen rapidly.

People from the Asmat area already reported the existence of deer surrounding their area, crossing at least 4 big rivers, about 450 Km from the original place where the first generation deer were released. This means the deer have kept spreading, and for the time being we cannot neglect deer meat as a major and important source of nutrition for the pepole in Merauke District.

In a particular area of the Park, according to the result of a survei conducted by Frasser-Stewart in 1988, the estimated deer population was 10,000 to 15,000. However, another survey conducted by Silvius and colleagues in 1989 pessimistically estimated there were only about 3,000 to 5,000 deer left.

The last deer monitoring reported in 1991 by Albert Franzman, based on an aerial survey, stated about 7,225 deer were still found inside the Park. Although aerial and land surveys to monitor deer population has always been conducted by WWF and Forestry staff every year, no official deer population estimated has been released after Franzman report.

Why does the deer population fluctuate so much? This may be due to the fact that the deer keep moving from one palce to another. However, after staying in Rawa Biru for 5 months, I found another reasons. Deer slaughters. Professional, but ilegal hunters from Merauke, riding motorbikes, and armed with machetes. It is also not rare to find hunters with guns.

“The professional hunter kills our deer, and the way they hunt the deer has made these animals very sensitive toward people, and has also caused the remaining deer to migrate to more inaccessible remote areas,” said a local.

Now traditional hunting by the villagers, legally allowed, is not an easy job anymore. What is traditional hunting? Why is it legal? It is because traditional hunting has the way the people inside the Wasur National Park hunt and kill deer to meet their nutrition need. Besides functioning to provide food and create an opportunity for the local people to earn a living, the practise helps the Park’s management to control the deer and other animal population.

“We cannot control the illegal hunters, although they steal our deer and hunt them down on our traditional land,” said a Rawa Biru resident, adding that,”we do not have any power to deal with them.”

An old man from another village related a sad story to me. “By the end of 1980s, the time when deer horns collected a good price in a market, in some savannah area, we smell the odor of decomposing deer bodies. The hunter was only interested in the horns and left the rest of the body on the ground. A terrible deer massacre….”

For the people, such massacre has a strong linear impact. The more deer killed, the harder for them to hunt traditionally. This meant it is also harder also for them to earn a living. On the other hand, deer massacre has an equally strong impact on the other animals.

“We cannot approach any animal closely anymore. They become very sensitive when a human being is present,”said another local resident. As a result, the animal is not easy to find.

Unless illegal hunting is stopped, Forestry Office and WWF cannot manage this park under curent circumtances. The only rising problem is illegal hunting, and to solve or at least to keep it under control, the official has to focus their attention. This means giving lesser attention to significant problems as they should basically do.

In the long run, there has to be greater concern for the local people since they are already sacrificing significant part of their life to enable the WWF, Forestry Office and themselves to manage this area properly as a National Park.

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