Early on the morning of October 5, 2021, five of us, including Alex Waisimon and a guide, walk into a forest just behind an inn that Waisimon runs at a resort called Bird Watching Isyo Hills.
Waisimon is a native Papuan forest conservator who has won numerous awards including Kalpataru, a leading environmental award, due to his dedication to the conservation of Papua’s animals and plants.
He maintains a native forest in Rhepang Muaif, Nimbokrang, Jayapura district, Papua, located about three hours west of Jayapura town. If you come to this place, you can walk around half of Lake Sentani.
Our goal on entering the forest that morning was to spot a unique bird native to Papua and whose name is familiar to all of Indonesia, especially since the creature is one of the mascots for National Week. Papua Sports 2021 (PON).
This bird is cenderawasih. Cenderawasih is very secretive and difficult to spot in its natural habitat. With a penchant for heights, the bird is very sensitive to sound and movement, as if it knows someone is watching it.
He has keen eyes and ears that allow him to detect sounds from tens of meters away. As we enter the native forest that Waisimon has turned into an ecotourism site, we have to whisper our voices while sneaking around like a predator in search of its prey.
âDon’t be so strong,â Waisimon reminded us.
“Don’t touch the branch,” he told us a few times as we crouched down next to him.
The rustling of the branches can disturb the leaves and annoy the cenderawasih and detect human presence, he explained. It would cause the bird to fly away from the place we were observing, he said.
For almost three hours, we crouched down to take a look at cendrawasih.
It would take a telescope to see the bird clearly, or a camera with a telephoto lens to capture every detail of the celestial bird.
Do not assume that the bird can be spotted without these devices, especially since cenderawasih only appears in the morning and afternoon.
Outside of these two periods, one would only hear a loud cry echoing through the forest, even if the cenderawasih does not have the largest body.
Do not compare it to an eagle, because this particular bird, which also lives in the hills of Isyo, is still too big to compare to the cenderawasih. However, the cry of the cenderawasih does echo through the forest.
It’s hard to spot a cenderawasih perched on a tree unless you are prepared to be patient. The surroundings it is in is not a place for a selfie. There are much easier places for click-happy
Additionally, Waisimon would prefer not to have a truck with visitors only interested in taking pictures.
It looks forward to visitors who love birds and the environment, care about nature conservation and want to know how the cenderawasih lives in its natural habitat as opposed to the cruel cages that trap this beautiful bird.
However, no one, not even Waisimon, knows where the cenderawasih nests. The bird is so mysterious that even native Papuans don’t know where its nest is.
âTo this day, we don’t know what a cenderawasih nest looks like and where it is,â said Daud Wouw, our tour guide.
The 20-year-old, one of Waisimon’s most trusted guides, was born and raised in the areas where the cenderawasih lives.
âSomeone confessed to seeing a cenderawasih nest. I don’t believe it. I asked, ‘Where is the proof? Where is the photo?’ but the person couldn’t really prove it, âWaisimon remarked of Wouw.
According to Waisimon, not only cenderawasih, but even forest pigeons no longer nest in places where humans can reach them.
“As soon as a woodland pigeon knows its nest has been seen by a human, it lays its eggs and leaves the nest, never again making nests in places where humans have seen them,” he explained. .
Although they can be found in places like Papua New Guinea and Australia, around 30 of the 43 species of cenderawasih are found in Indonesia, and 28 of them reside in Papua.
In the hills of Isyo, around these 200 hectares of forest, there are four types of cenderawasih, the number of which is fixed at 50. Half of them are cenderawasih who were released into the wild after being rescued. illegal traffickers.
The four cenderawasih are cenderawasih mati kawat, cenderawasih opada, cenderawasih raja and cenderawasih paruh sabit.
There are other types of birds in the forest such as the Victoria Crowned Pigeon, the Yellowbird Kingfisher, the Papuan Chatterbox, and the Little Bird of Paradise.
Isyo Hills also has plants native to Papua, including hundreds of trees as well as flowers. However, it is the cenderawasih that tends to be the main reason people come to Isyo Hills; most come from abroad.
The bird is extraordinarily beautiful, especially when it perches or flies from tree to tree. The flapping of its wings exhibits exotic colors, especially the male cenderawasih.
Cenderawasih performs mating rituals every morning and afternoon. Males are very shy, except when singing and dancing, showing off their tails on top of a tree branch.
âWhen the male calls, the female comes,â Waisimon said.
However, males aren’t sure to call females if their tail is messy, as females wouldn’t find them pretty, he said.
They still appear every morning and afternoon, hanging out in one place, he said.
âThey usually eat the fruits of this steel tree,â noted Wouw.
The steel tree is a tree commonly used to construct houses and buildings in Papua. Just like its name, the tree is as strong as steel, making it a reliable material for constructing buildings.
However, the tree is a primary target for illegal logging, which Waisimon said he tries to combat by encouraging people to care about nature conservation.
Besides being the main habitat of the cenderawasih, the steel tree also acts as the main marker of Papua’s biodiversity, he said.
Cenderawasih also plays an important role in the preservation of this tree since this bird disperses its seeds in other places, he informed.
It would be unimaginable for steel trees to be felled sporadically and especially if done illegally, where there would be no effort to replant them, Waisimon said.
If this illegal activity continues, cendrawasih and other animals would lose their habitat and go on the road to extinction, he said.
Extinction of these birds would also ruin the balance of the ecosystem, even though Papua is one of the planet’s lungs that is important to humans, he said.
Not spotting the cenderawasih in its natural habitat due to imperfect equipment is disappointing, he noted. However, not being able to see it because its habitat has been ruined due to human selfishness would be a major disaster, he added.
Related News: EARTH WIRE – Adat Community Urged to Protect Birds of Paradise Habitats
Related News: WWF`Saireri Expedition Team Completes Mission in Yapen Islands
Related News: WWF Fears Bird of Paradise Trade