Conserving Cendrawasih 'The Bird of Paradise' in Papua

Arfi Bambani | Aulia Hafisa
Bird of Paradise or Cenderawasih in Indonesian lives in Warkesi, Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia
Bird of Paradise or Cenderawasih in Indonesian lives in Warkesi, Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia - Papua is not only blessed with exquisite scenery and natural resources. The most eastern part of Indonesia also has a variety of endemic animals.

The data shows at least 258 bird species in the Raja Ampat forest area. Ten out of 258 species are endemic birds of Papua. Cendrawasih, widely known as The bird of paradise, is one of them.

The beautiful feathers and the exotic movements of Cendrawasih inevitably attract bird lovers, photographers, and not to mention poachers. They catch the bird and sell it to the collectors.

Alvian Sopuiyo, the Head of the Warkesi Forest Farmers Group, used to be a poacher. He hunted Cendrawasih and sold it.

"In the past, I used to hunt the Red Cendrawasih. I sold the dead bird to the collector. The bird was preserved using formalin as a preservative," he said to Antara on 23 October 2021.

"I can't count how many birds of paradise I shot dead with an air rifle. I remember that one time I bought 20 liters of formalin to preserve the birds so I could sell them," he added.

Alvian said that he sold one preserved Cendrawasih for IDR 500,000. The amount of money was precious for him.

However, Cendrawasih is one of many species that the Indonesian Government protects. Hunting and selling the birds made his life uneasy. He always felt chased. Frequently, he had to hide to avoid the police and conservation officers.

"I felt guilty because many people were trying to protect Cenderawasih for our future generations. On the other hand, I was hunting the bird for money," he said.

Embrace the Community to Protect the Bird

The West Papua Natural Resources Conservation Center (BKSDA) seeks to preserve endemic birds by embracing the residents around the forest area.

BKSDA created the Warkesi Forest Farmers Group and the Red Cendrawasih Observation Center in the Warkesi Forest to conserve endemic birds.

The Warkesi Forest Farmers Group manages a 300-hectare tourism forest area in the West Waigeo Nature Reserve.

Alvian Sopuiyo said the Cendrawasih bird-watching tour has been open since early 2018.

This bird-watching activity brings income to the Warkesi Forest Farmers Group. Every visitor who wants to enter the forest area to observe Cendrawasih must pay IDR 250,000. The money goes to the Warkesi Forest Farmers Group.

Since the tour opened in 2018, at least 1,000 local and global tourists have witnessed the action of Cendrawasih in the Warkesi Forest. 

More tourists could have visited the Warkesi forest if the COVID-19 pandemic had not suspended the tourism activities.

Alvian admitted that the income of working in the Warkasi forest is not as high as being a poacher. However, he feels happy because he can earn money without hiding from the police and conservation officers.

Bird watching activities in the Warkesi Forest have made bird poachers like Alvian switch jobs. Many poachers are now switching to support and conserve Cendrawasih birds to develop tourism forests.

"Member of Warkesi Forest Farmer Group, 30 family heads, chose to work at the Warkesi Forest to survive," said Alvian.

Tag # cendrawasih # the bird of paradise # raja ampat # papua # west papua # bird # cendrawasih bird

Latest explore

Top Headlines