Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Rainforest Hiking in Arfak Mountains of Manokwari regency

The mountain range of Arfak is a great hiking destination. There are a lot of trails which hikers can choose to hike through the tropical rainforest. The terrains consist of steep slopes with some valleys particularly in the Mokwam region. More moderate hiking trails are located on the south east of the mountains from District Oransbari to District Ransiki. Hiking tours in Arfak can be arranged to cater the needs of visitors depending on their physical condition and duration of their visit in Manokwari.
From 4 to 6 December 2010 I guided 7 Dutch and 1 Indonesian tourists to the tropical rainforest of Kwau village in Arfak mountains of Manokwari regency. Six of the Dutch were elderly people whose ages are between sixty to seventy years old. I had not known this until I met them on the 1 of December 2010. Well, I had planned a tour in the jungle whose terrain was more suitable for young age people. I felt a little bit guilty about it. I was not able to cancel the trip to Kwau village because Hans Mandacan already informed the villagers about our planned visitation.
So, on the 4 of December 2010, two 4WD cars - Toyota Hilux left Manokwari for Arfak mountains. These cars were very powerful in climbing the steep slopes of the Arfak mountains. In addition, the drivers whom I chose were the experienced ones. Along the way I was praying that these people would be able to walk through the rainforest, overcoming hills in front of them and finally arrive at Hans Mandacan's house. His house is not a luxurious rain forest resort equipped with complete facilities and fireplace cabins. It is only a simple 4-bed room house which Hans built by himself at a hill near Kwau village.
At around 13 p.m. we arrived on the road near a pathway leading to Hans' house. Around twenty villagers from Kwau village were waiting for us. They were women, men, boys and girls. They would carry our bags to Hans' house which he had changed into a temporary tourist house. We handed over our things to them and up we walked into the woods. Everything seemed to run well in the first ten minutes of the jungle walk. After that they began to ask whether the house was still far from our sight or not. We could only say that we were getting closer to the tourist house.
Birds were singing in the brances of the tropical trees. Perhaps they were enjoying the nectar of wild flowers or eating various forest fruits. December was time for fruiting season in West Papua. Birds and other rainforest animals were having parties with the abundant food that they had that month. Particularly for the magnificent birds of paradise, they like to eat red fruits. These old people were getting tired after ten minutes walking up several slopes of the Kwau village territory. It took one hour for the whole tourists to arrive in the tourist house. Besides it was far from the main road, the tourists often stopped for a while to take a rest or to see rainforest flowers, mushroom or anything that looked interesting in the jungle. When they arrived in the house, one of them complained to Sjaak (the coordinator of the tour) that the trekking route that day was too heavy for her.


So, if you plan to visit Arfak mountains, prepare yourself for a long rainforest hiking that will consume much of your energy in the slopes of the tropical rainforest. It is better to practice walking for at least three months before you go to West Papua. The duration of your walking practice can be 30 to 60 minutes. You will feel exhausted by that. Arfak mountains are rich of mammals, birds, reptiles and insect but they pose big challenges to those who want to explore their natural beauty.  by Charles Roring
Also read: Go Hiking in the Table Mountain

Friday, December 17, 2010

Tropical rainforest Orchids

Tropical rainforests in the mountains and islands across West Papua are now becoming the attention of biologists from around the world due to their essential functions in absorbing CO2 gases and  their natural wealth of biodiversity. The rainforest of New Guinea in the coastal and mountainous regions is rich a lot of species of flowers. Many of them are orchids. They grow on the branches of big trees twenty or thirty meters above the grounds. Due to the high demand of these tropical orchid flowers in the local and national markets, the indigenous people have collected large number of orchids and sell them in cities and towns of West Papua. These orchids plants will then be shipped to big cities in Java and sold in high prices. Because hunting orchids that naturally grow in the tropical rainforest will affect the balance of the rainforest ecosystem, there are efforts from the local Papuan themselves to cultivate these plants at their homes. By planting and growing orchids and other rainforest flowers, they can get increase the number of plants which they are able to sell. 
Although orchid farming is still considered as a small home business activity. Many people still do it in front of their home yards. There are not any companies in West Papua that have opened large areas of farmland to be used for cultivating orchid flowers.
A few months ago, there was an Orchid exhibition in Manokwari city organized by the government to promote orchid as a non-timber forest or agricultural products. Papua and West Papua provinces have a number of dendrobium orchid species that are expensive in such big cities as Jakarta, Surabaya and Denpasar. The local government want to promote the region as the major supplier of this tropical flower to improve the living condition of the flower farmer. 
If you go hiking in the tropical rainforest of Arfak mountains, Table Mountain and the North Coast of Manokwari regency, you will be able to see various species of orchid plants in the jungle. Papuan people do not see orchid only as decorative plants. They use orchid fiber to make noken (string bags). The pseudo bulbs of orchid is also used by the islanders in Numfor island as herbal remedy for abscess. The pseudo bulbs contain sticky thick liquid than can be applied on the surface of one's skin that is suffering from abscess. The liquid will suck the pus and dry the wound without causing severe pain. 
So, next time when you see an orchid plant with its beautiful flowers, you will know that it is also a good herbal medicine. From the above story, we can conclude that the preservation of the tropical rainforest is not only important for fighting global warming through the absorption of CO2 gases but also for protecting the high biodiversity that it has for the improvement of the standard living condition of mankind. From the rainforest, we can get a lot of species of plants that have medicinal functions. Rainforests and global warming are two important issues that cannot be separated but the preservation of these rich environments is not limited to them. Simply, it is very important for all of us.
On a separate trip into the rainforest of West Papua, I accompanied a young Biologist from the United Kingdom. Her name is Georgie. We went hiking through the jungle of Manokwari town. Our destination was the tropical rainforest of Dopi river on the west of the town. We saw fruit doves, pygmy parrots, Blyth's hornbills, butterflies, and various colours of terrestrial orchids. Perhaps, the one in the above photograph is Spathoglottis plicata. If you are looking for more information about orchids, try to buy some books at the following Amazon store:
Also read:
rainforest flowers used as medicinal herbs

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Tropical Rainforest Lizard

As a tourist guide and travel writer, I like to go hiking and guiding tourists around the tropical rainforest of New Guinea island. This island is also called Papua or West Papua. Today, Papua as the largest tropical island in the world is administered by two countries. The eastern half is the independent state of Papua New Guinea whereas the western half is the territory of the Republic of Indonesia that consists of two provinces Papua and West Papua. The capital of West Papua is Manokwari city. I discuss a lot of topics about tropical rainforest that covers the mountains and plains around the city. 
While guiding tourists, I like to take pictures of animals, flowers, mushrooms, birds, insects, trees, unique leaves of the vegetation and the tourists whom I guide. Today, I am going to tell you a little story about lizard. There are many species of lizards in the tropical rainforest of Papua. As reptiles, small lizards usually eat insects. They can climb trees fast. Some lizards have skin surface that are adapted to the play where they live. If a lizard attaches itself on a tree trunk whose color is green brown, its skin color will adapt to the color of the host tree. This is one of the ways which some lizards do to protect themselves from being the prey of their predators. 
The tropical island of Papua has big lizards which the indigenous people like hunt and eat their meat. These big lizards are called Soa-Soa. Soa-soa do not eat insects. Instead they eat the meat of dead animals such as small forest mouse, other small reptiles and dead birds. In the tropical rainforest food chain, soa-soa lizards are the prey of big birds such as hawk or eagle. 
The photograph above shows how a green tree lizard catches an insect in a tree in the tropical rainforest of the Table Mountain. Sometimes small butterflies that eat nectar for rainforest flowers become the target of the lizards. This is the usual food chain that always happen in the jungle. We cannot stop them because it naturally occurs every day.
The indigenous Papuan people have a unique technique in catching soa-soa. They don't use modern air guns instead, they use lasso trap which they set on the ground. Usually they make a least 20 traps placed in one row and cut small vegetation to make a small fence between the traps. The distance between two traps is around five to ten meters. When the lizard walk on the ground and face the fence, they will change their direction to find a clear ground the pass through. Then they will as a clear ground, where the hunter of lizards has set up his trap. If the lizard pass through the trap, it will step on the pin that triggers the wooden stick of the trap to pull the lasso made of a smooth nylon string. As a result, the lizard's head, or leg or even main body will be caught by the lasso. 
The next morning when the hunter comes to check his traps, he will find the lizard which is a good meat for his family. So, if you are interested in hiking in the tropical rainforest of Arfak mountains, Table Mountain and the Nort Coast of West Papua to see lizards or other animals, you can contact me - Charles Roring - via my e-mail charlesroring@gmail.com. I will be happy to be your guide in this beautiful tropical island.
Also read: Birds from the Tropical Rainforest of Manokwari Papua  

Tropical rainforest butterflies

Every time I go hiking in the tropical rainforest of Arfak Mountains or Table Mountain or the Northern Coast of Manokwari regency, I will see a lot of species of butterflies. They are really beautiful. Butterfly come out of their places in the morning at around ten. They feed on the nectar of wild flowers in the rainforest. Although in the international market, the price of butterfly from the tropical rainforest of West Papua is high, I personally not interested in catching them for export. Butterflies sleep on top or underneath the green leaves of plants in the jungle. Some even spread their wings to resemble the leaves. The colors of their wings are various. There are butterflies whose colors are brown and yellow but there is also a species whose color is purely white. 
Last September, two researchers from the University of Milan in Italy visited Manokwari to study butterflies. They liked to catch the butterflies. The butterflies which they had caught were then kept in white paper and put into a small plastic container. Ivan, one of the researchers, could mention the name or the genus of the species. He was lucky when he could catch a troides. Because I did not know anything about the butterfly kingdom, I could only say that I could tolerate his action in catching these insects if they are purely for the purpose of research. Butterflies play very important role in supporting the pollination of flowers in the tropical rainforest. 

Besides butterflies, other insect that also does similar function is bee. The nectar which the bee has collected will become delicious honey that is good for our health. Based on the observation of the important function of butterflies on the survivability of tropical rainforest, I appeal to all the people who like to go hiking in the tropical rainforest to respect butterflies but not catching or disturbing them. While these tiny and weak insects help the pollination of flowers thus accelerating the fruiting process, the birds that eat the fruits help disperse the seeds of the fruits. 
Rainforest of Arfak mountains and the northern coast of Manokwari regency in Indonesia are often visited by tourists who want to see bird wing  butterflies and birds. This kind of ecotourism activities directly gives economic benefits to the local people living in and around the forest. By introducing ecotourism into the region, I hope that together with the indigenous Papuan people, we can preserve the forest and still make a living from it. 
Also read:

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Rainforest insects

Last November I and Monique (a volunteer from SDSP foundation) went hiking in the tropical rainforest of the Table Mountain near Manokwari city, the capital of West Papua province. We walked along the road that divides the jungle into two parts. Table Mountain with its forest is the closest natural environment that still exists in the city. The tropical rainforest that covers that mountain is rich of insects such as beetles, butterflies and wasps. Butterflies like to feed on nectars of rainforest flowers. During the morning walk with Monique, we could see various kinds of grasshoppers that like to eat young green leaves of plants and trees that grow in the forest. When the rainy season comes, trees and small vegetation grow faster. This creates competition between small plants and big trees. The presence of grasshopper can balance such competition by feeding on young leaves of the trees and plants that grow faster than others. In the food chain, insects such as the grasshopper are delicious food for lizards and soa-soa whereas these reptiles are prey to snakes and big birds.
When I write this post, I remember reading a book entitled the Malay Archipelago by Alfred Russel Wallace. In a chapter about the Netherlands New Guinea, he said that this Table Mountain is rich of insects. Yes, I can confirm his report here that there are still a lot of species of insects in this tropical rainforest.
European researchers have visited the Table Mountain of Manokwari since two centuries ago. One of them was Prince Leopold and Princess Astrid from Belgium in 1929. Prince Leopold collected a lot of animals, including insects in Manokwari. His collections can still be seen in ISNB Brussels.
I write this post to promote ecotourism and attract tourists from around the world to visit this forest. If you are interested in watching beetles, butterflies, and various other insects in this tropical rainforest, you can contact me via my email: peace4wp@gmail.com. I will be happy to arrange your trip around Manokwari and guide you to see the beauty of Papua's nature. by Charles Roring
Also read:

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tropical rainforest preservation and ecotourism

Tropical rainforest of Arfak mountains in West Papua is facing deforestation rapidly at the moment. This problem has been the focus of attention of a lot of people who love Papua's nature very much. For instance, much of the rainforest area in the flat region of Prafi valley of Manokwari regency has been converted into agricultural area where farmers grow rice, and plantation companies operate CPO plant there. To produce crude palm oil (CPO), thousands of hectares of rainforest biome have to be cleared for monoculture sawit plantations.
The rainforest of Prafi whose biodiversity was very high has now gone forever.
To prevent the continuous destruction of rainforest, an alternative way of income generation should be developed. As a matter of fact, there are many solutions for that. First, the indigenous people can harvest non-timber products such as herbs, orchids and other tropical flowers, as well as rattan and meat from their forests to be sold in the local market. Another interesting scheme which is very effective in improving the economic condition of the indigenous Papuan people living in and around the forest is through the development of ecotourism project.
Three days ago, I brought 7 tourists from the Netherlands to Arfak mountains. We visited Kwau village. These Dutch tourists, in their old age, went hiking or trekking inside the jungle to watch magnificent birds of paradise, spotted cat bird and bower bird.
To help them locate where these birds are, Hans Mandacan, the owner of Kwau tourist guest house, built several huts. These bird watching huts would be used by the tourists to see birds from very close distance in the morning and in the afternoon. Because every hut could only be occupied with a maximum of four tourists, we had to divide the group into two smaller groups. They would shift huts in the mornings and in the afternoons. Since bird watching activities need patience, tourists were told not to have loud conversations while staying in the huts.
The Dutch tourists did 3 bird watching trips from the 4th to 6st of December 2010. During those trips, they could watch magnificent birds of paradise (male and female), spotted cat birds (also male and female), and vogelkop bower bird (perhaps the male one). Because they were late when entering the hut for watching the bower bird, they could only saw him in less than one minute.
In addition to watching birds, these Dutch tourists also saw how Hans Mandacan made the extract of red fruit oil (Pandanus Conoideus Lam). The indigenous Papuan who live in and around the rainforest of Arfak mountains have used the extract of the red fruit in their diet for thousands of years. Physically they have strong bodies and are not easily to be attacked by any tropical diseases. Recent reports from researchers in Cendrawasih University have shown that the extract of red fruit oil can effectively be used for the treatment of patients with tumors in the brain, breast, womb, and even the treatment of patients who are infected with HIV/ AIDS virus.
The short description about the preservation of tropical rainforest through the development of ecotourism with emphasis on bird watching, insect watching, herbal medicine study and butterfly farming can bring positive economic benefits to the indigenous Papuan people of the Arfak mountains.
I expect that the central, provincial and local governments will pay attention to this and  help the Papuan develop their ecotourism projects in Arfak mountains through the improvement of infrastructure, the guesthouse and various other programs that can make the indigenous people of Papua more prosperous without jeopardising their precious rainforest environment. by Charles Roring
Also read:
Tropical rainforest flowers
Tropical rainforest preservation in District Senopi
Tropical rainforest of Numfor island

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Tropical rainforest of Kaki island

Kaki island is a small tropical islet located near Nuni village of the north coast of Manokwari regency. This coral island is still covered with beautiful tropical rainforest that protects it from erosion. Most of the vegetations that we can see in the Kaki island are coconut, ketapang (catappa) and barringtonia asiatica.
To help the indigenous people in the northern coast preserve the tiny rainforest of the island, I try to introduce ecotourism project. I intend to bring foreign tourists there where they can enjoy hiking through the tropical rainforest and bird watching around the coast in the island. In addition to birds, in the morning we can see butterflies eat nectar of flowers both in the Nuni village or in the surrounding forest of the mainland New Guinea.
Besides the beautiful jungle, pristine coral reef can be found thriving around the island. As the tropical rainforest of the sea, coral reef absorbs large amount of carbon dioxide while doing photosynthesis. With eco-tourism scheme, tourists who want to go snorkeling around the island will be transported by motorized outrigger boats that are operated by the local fishermen's there. This additional income will help the fishermen to improve their living condition, and send their children to school without having to exploit the coral reef and the forest of Kaki island too much.
Besides snorkeling, bird watching and hiking, another ecotourism scheme that I can introduce in Nuni village is surfing. Waves in the northern coast reach its highest point between December and February. With more nature lovers and foreigners come to the region, more money can be injected into the local economy through ecotourism project. The interaction between the local people and the tourists can bring new possibilities of raising the awareness about the importance of preserving the environment of the tropical rainforest and the coral reef. The number of tourists visiting Kaki island is not high at the present moment but I expect it to rise next year.
Also read:
Tropical rainforest picture of Numpuri islet
Tropical rainforest of Asai river

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Rainforest flowers used as medicinal herbs

The indigenous Papuan people in New Guinea have used flowers from their rainforest as remedies for the treatment of their diseases. This local wisdom is very effective in curing skin diseases such as white blotches on the skin caused by fungus and even severe abscess. When I was in the tropical rainforest of Arfak mountains in Manokwari regency, Samuel Mandacan, the village chief of the Kwau village, explained to me that they use Ntam flower to eliminate the white blotches.
Last week I went to Numfor island with two Dutch volunteers from SDSP foundation. They were Jettie and Monique. When we were talking about the medicinal function of certain types of plants, a woman in Rarsibo village said that the islanders use the sticky resin of Orchid stored in its pseudo bulb to cure abscess. To take the resin, first they have to cut a pseudobulb of the orchid. Then they peel it off and scrape it using sharp knife.
The liquid resin that is thick and sticky will be obtained from the Orchid's pseudobulb. This sticky liquid is applied to the surface of the skin that suffers from abscess beneath it. The orchid resin will accelerate the absorption of the pus and as a result the abscess will dry faster than usual. We may only see orchid as beautiful decorative flower from the tropical rainforest but for the Papuan people in Numfor island, orchid is a very effective herbal remedy in curing abscess and perhaps many other diseases.
Also read:
Herbal remedy for intestinal worm
Herbal medicine from Kwau village
Herbal remedy for abscess
Herbal remedy for papila mamae

Monday, November 29, 2010

Rainforest flowers pictures

Still on my discussion about rainforest flowers, the pictures that I got from morning walk near the tropical rainforest of Numfor island were quite interesting. I saw bougenville and rose-apple. For many of you, bougenville might not be a new tropical flower for you. Everybody recognizes it. It is not difficult to grow it. Flower growers like to join a number of twigs from different colors of bougenville into one plant. An adult bougenville can reach up to 3 meters height. Although it does not have strong fragrant, it is still attractive to all of us because it produces a lot of flowers. To grow buogenville just insert a stick of buogenville into loose soil and let it grow naturally. This bush plant needs water but it does not like wet ground.
Another tree flower that I saw in Numfor was rose-apple. Its flowers were red. They would change into fruits in a few weeks. Some species have sweet taste but most are sour. In Indonesia, the fruits of rose-apple are mostly used as ingridients in rujak (a kind of fruit salad) whose taste is a mixture of sweet, hot and spicy. Birds also like to eat the rose apple very much. Because the tropical rainforest of New Guinea has a lot of beautiful flowers, I will take more pictures of them if I do a morning walk again both in Manokwari or in Numfor island.
Also read:

Rainforest Flowers

There are several species of flowers in the rainforest of Arfak mountains that have attracted the attention of visitors from around the world. Some of them are orchids and Rhododendron. Orchids can be seen growing on the branches of big trees when I guide some tourists go trekking in the jungle. Some villagers like to climb the trees and take the orchids. They sell the flowers in Manokwari city or just planted them around their houses. Because the temperature and humidity in the city and in the rainforest are different, most of the orchids die. To help the indigenous people in Arfak mountains and along the coastal areas, I develop an ecotourism program. I promote the mountain range of Arfak in Manokwari regency, Klasow valley in Sorong regency and Tambrauw mountains as tour destinations for anybody who is interested in traveling inside the tropical rainforest. Because the rainforest environment is high in biodiversity, tourists can see plants and flowers, birds, mammals, reptiles and insects.
Orchid in Arfak mountains of Manokwari
In the lowland forest of Manokwari, we can see Terrestrial Orchids (Spathoglottis plicata), Glory Vine (Faradaya splendida) and New Guinea Tuliptree (Spathodea campanulata) and a lot more flowers which I cannot mention one by one.
In addition to Arfak mountains in Manokwari regency, another destination that visitors can see is Numfor island. When I did a morning walk near the tropical rainforest of the Numfor island a few days ago, I saw various species of rainforest flowers. One of them is plumeria. Actually it is a tree that regularly produce flowers all year round. Its wood is soft. Plumeria has very strong fragrant. Usually planted by people in the cemetery area. In Bali, girls like to put the flower on their ears. Plumeria or frangipani flowers are also used in daily offerings to the gods by Balinese people. But these tropical flower plants can also be found growing at the front yards of the villagers homes in Numfor island. The main color of plumeria is white but most often we can see red or pink colors at the edges of its petals and yellow in the middle of each flower. The height of an adult plumeria can reach up to 3 meters.
If you are interested in seeing tropical wildflowers in its natural habitat in West Papua province of the Indonesia, please, send text message to me - Charles Roring - (cell phone: +6281332245180). I can guide you to explore the tropical jungle and its colorful flower plants.
Plumeria flowers
Tropical rainforest of Numfor island has another interesting flower which grows as grass . It has seven purple petals as you can see on the photograph above. When I took the picture of this flower, it was still covered with morning dew. It looked fresh and very beautiful. As a matter of fact this is a kind of grass flower usually blooms in the morning along the grassy area of tropical rainforest.
When I saw the flower, I could not identify it. I wrote this blog post and several months later someone named Cindy Taing emailed me and said that she was also curious about this purple flower. After searching for information about it on the internet, she finally found its name. The name of the flower was Rain Lily.
Based on her information, I did several searches in Google for keywords rain lily. Finally I could find the name of the flower in Latin. According to Wikipedia, it was called Zephyranthes rosea. This was only a small flower plant. I was happy with this finding.
The tropical rainforest of New Guinea is a nice destination for travelers who want to enjoy hiking tours both in the mountains and lowland coastal areas. Beside orchid flowers, hikers can see wildlife and meet with the indigenous Papuan people who are friendly.
Zephyranthes rosea flower in Numfor island
People in Numfor island have not realized that their beautiful tropical flowers are potential to be developed as an environmentally friendly agricultural commodity. During this time tourists can enjoy the beauty of the flowers without having to pay anything.

Also read:


Snorkeling and Sightseeing Tour in Raja Ampat
In addition to offering rainforest tour, I also offer snorkeling tour in Raja Ampat islands of West Papua. During the tour, you will be able to see the beautiful underwater world that is full of colorful coral reef and tropical fish.
Pianemo/ Fam islands in Raja Ampat archipelago
Coral reefs can be considered as flowers of the sea. The average duration of the tour is 5 days/ 4 nights. When taking the tour, visitors will be able to enjoy snorkeling in various coral reef areas of the region such as Five Rocks (Batu Lima), Karst islets of Kabui bay, Friwen, North-West Mansuar, South-West Mansuar, Yenbuba strait, Sawondarek, Pianemo post, and Arborek and more.
Depending on the weather, I will also arrange a sightseeing trip to Pianemo/ Fam islands where participants will be able to see the beautiful scenery of Karst islets which has become the promotional icon of Raja Ampat.
For prices and customized itinerary, please, contact me (Charles Roring) by E-mail to: peace4wp@gmail.com.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Tropical Rainforest Picture of Numpuri islet

Tropical rainforest in the Amberimasi village of Numfoor island is very rich of many species of green vegetation. From coconut to mangroves, these trees are homes to beautiful birds, and insects. According to the information about Schouten islands which I read in Wikipedia, the forest in Numfor island is considered unique due to its population of birds which are higher than the average areas of their mainland - the New Guinea island.
I was with two Dutch girls (Jettie and Monique) who were volunteers of SDSP Foundation in this beautiful tropical island from 23 to 26 November 2010. We stayed in the Losmen Amberimasi that was located just a stone throw away from the beach. It was really beautiful to be there. Surrounded by a small lagoon and Numpuri islet, the coastal region and the nearby forest were nice places for doing morning walk and bird watching. We woke up on Wednesday 24/11/2010 at around 5.30 a.m. After preparing our cameras, we started to "hunt" for birds. It was not difficult to find birds there. When we had just been a few meters from the losmen, we could hear lory, dove, and "burung pagi" (morning birds) sang their natural songs on the branches and leaves of the tropical trees. The sounds of birds singing in the morning could be heard from all corners. Our first observation was the sea and the Numpuri island. The reflection of the sky and clouds, the forest or trees of this islet looked perfect on the surface of the sea water which had not been disturbed by waves and ripples.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Tropical rainforest of Asai river

Tropical rainforests around the world are now being threatened by massive deforestation at a rate of 50 football fields per minute (Julie Kerr Casper in "Global Warming - Changing Ecosystem" 2010). To stop this, all the world communities must work together. There are a number of ways that we can do to reduce the deforestation and illegal logging. We can change our lifestyle by living more friendly to the environment, by designing more efficient burning stoves that consume less fuel wood or by planting more trees.
I and several nature lovers from a Dutch foundation try to introduce ecotourism as an alternative income generation for the local West Papuan people living in the north coast of Manokwari. We expect that with additional income from the forest tourism, the indigenous people in this largest tropical island in the world will not be tempted to give up their rainforest for timber exploitation and large scale monoculture plantation.
Yesterday morning, I went hiking with Monique and Jetty (two volunteers of SDSP foundation from the Netherlands) along the Asai river. Both sides of the river are covered with tropical rainforest. Our intention to go hiking along the river was to survey and determine whether the area is feasible to be developed as another tourist destination in Manokwari, the capital of West Papua province of the Republic of Indonesia. As a matter of fact that was my third visit. For these Dutch girls, it was their first one. We went there by a rent car. It took around one hour from Manokwari city to Asai. Arriving at the bridge, I got off the car to meet Oom Minggus. (He is usually called Oom Ambon by the local villagers). I informed him that I and two Dutch volunteers wanted to explore the rainforest and the river. Oom Ambon offered to accompany us. I was not aware that two of his dogs were following us.
Because the sea was in high tide, the sea water entered the river making the water level near the estuary area reached 1.5 to 2 meters. So, it was not possible for us to start hiking from the bank of the river. We had to use the pathway not far from the river whose slope was quite steep. It was not easy for Jetty because she had problems with her right knee. I felt guilty because of that. After climbing up and walking down some slopes, finally we could reach the bank of the river. The water was clear and shallow a little bit far from the estuary region. Its an ideal place to swim there because the outdoor environment was still in pristine condition. I saw several hornbills flying above our heads. We could see them by our naked eyes. Seeing the water, the dogs began barking. They did not like crossing the stream. Their barking made the birds flew away. I was a little disappointed but now the chance for shooting the birds was very little. The word shooting should not be considered as killing the birds but capturing their images using digital cameras. Om Ambon tried to chase the dogs away but they did not want to return to their master's home.
Although we were disappointed by the barkings of the dogs, we were quite happy to see the beautiful nature of the river and of the forest that looked dark green around us. The air was really fresh. Several times, we had to cross the river, climb big rocks or walk on fallen trees. This is a nice trekking route for tourists who like to explore both the jungle and the water environment of West Papua. We also had to be extra careful while crossing the river because the stones at the river bed were slippery. If you are interested in hiking along this river, please, contact me: Charles Roring - via email: peace4wp@gmail.com. Don't forget to wear water shoes or hiking boots. If possible, cover your digital still photo camera with a good waterproof case.
Also read:
Tropical rainforest in the mountains
Tropical rainforest of Arfak mountains
Tropical rainforest of Numfor island

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Raja Ampat Coral Reef Art

One day a Papuan artist who had just returned from Raja Ampat came to me. His name was Tonci Krey. He brought his laptop containing a lot of pictures of coral reef painting that he and his friends painted on the wall of a church there. In recent years, scuba divers and snorkelers from all corners of the world come to Raja Ampat islands to see one of the best coral reef environment in the world.
According to reports from marine biologists the biodiversity of the underwater world in Raja Ampat waters is the highest in the world. The high marine biodiversity makes Raja Ampat diving sites popular among scuba divers and snorkelers. Some diving operators have even provided liveaboard diving packages to tourists who want to visit the islands of the "four kings." The Papuan artists who decorate the church want to create awareness among the Christian believers that it is very important to preserve the beauty of the coral reef for the current and future generations of Papuan people.
All of us know that coral reef is the tropical rainforest of the ocean. Algae that live in the coral reef photosynthesis during the day and absorbs CO2 gases dissolved in the sea water. Coral reef provides food and shelter to huge number of marine animals. Coral reef helps us in fighting global warming.
Alternative places
As a matter of fact, there are many places in Papua and West Papua provinces of New Guniea island where tourists can see the beauty of the coral reef environment with much cheaper cost:


Manokwari city and its surrounding islands
It is the capital of West Papua province. It is located in the bird's head region of the New Guinea island. There are three islands in the Dorey bay where Manokwari is located. They are Mansinam, Lemon, and Raimuti. In the north coast of Manokwari regency, there is also another island named Kaki. The coral reef in these islands are beautiful too. Tourists who want to go snorkeling over the coral reef can go there by public transportation and water taxi to the islands. As a tourist guide, I have been guiding a lot of tourists to these islands. The cost that they spent for snorkeling was much cheaper.
Also read my other article: The coral reef of Mansinam island

Numfor island
Beside Manokwari and its islands, another island which I recommend to tourists is Numfor island. The spelling can be Noemfoor or Numfoor. It is located between Manokwari and Biak. It takes 5 hours by ferry boat from Manokwari city to reach Numfor. Last October, I brought some Dutch tourists to this beautiful tropical island to watch birds and to snorkel around one of its islet, the Manem islet. I was amazed by the underwater beauty of the coral reef at the sourthern coast of Manem.
Read my article: Traveling to Numfor island and snorkeling over the coral reef of Manem islet
If you are interested in snorkeling around the coral reef of Manokwari and Numfor island, please contact me - Charles Roring - via my email: peace4wp@gmail.com. I'll be happy to arrange your trip and guide you around the area. I hope that you will enjoy your trip in papua.  

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tropical rainforest flowers

Here are some white hairy flowers that I saw in the rainforest of Klasow valley when I was guiding a Dutch tourist. I still do not know its species name. Klasow valley is a highly recommended tourist destination for visitors who want to see wildflowers that grow in lowland region of West Papua province of Indonesia.

There are a lot of species of flowers in tropical rainforest. When the flowers bloom in the morning, sun light warm them. As a result their fragrances are spread throughout the jungle. These attract butterflies, birds and insects come to eat their nectar. Flowers in the low elevation forest are different from the ones growing in high elevation. Many trees also produce flowers. There are some species that attracted me most. The first flower is Barringtonia Asiatica and the second one is Ntam (a local name). Barringtonia flower is unique because it is more "hairy." The hair actually is the filaments of the flower that are dominated by white and pink colors. The petals are white covering the filaments. Although this flower looks beautiful, it will be a deadly fruit one day. The fruit from barringtonia asiatica is usually used by coastal villagers to poison fish in the reef. An adult barringtonia asiatica plant is a big tree. This tree can be found growing along the beach. The extract liquid from the seed of barringtonia asiatica's fruit can be used to kill louse that likes to infest on the head of children.
High elevation tropical rainforest flowers have unique forms and beautiful colors. In big cities, people decorate their houses with flowers both indoors and outdoors. But the indigenous Papuan people in New Guinea island often use flowers to cure various kinds of tropical diseases such as malaria, and coughs.
For example, Ntam flower in Kwau village of Arfak mountains is used by the villagers to cure skin disease. The flower is powerful in killing bactera and skin fungus. People with skin diseases only need to rub their skins that flowers from Ntam plants.  In Kwau village, a Papuan named Yatinus is an expert in herbal medicine from Arfak mountains. He is often called by people from neighboring villages to cure their diseases. So, rainforest is not only important for absorbing CO2 gases or carbon storage but also for providing medicinal flowers.
Wednesday 4 July 2012 Update:
Someone named Angela Mac Millan contacted me by email and told me that the above flower is called "Papua New Guinean impatients" or Impatiens hawkeri.  Thanks, Angela. I hope that one day you can visit West Papua of Indonesia. by Charles Roring

Traveling to Manokwari
If you are interested in traveling to Manokwari and need a private guide, please, contact me by email to: peace4wp@gmail.com

February 5, 2016 Update:
In addition to taking pictures of flowers in the wild, I also like to draw or make illustration of flowers both manually on paper and watercolor pencil media or on a digital artwork. Below is a digital illustration of hibiscus flower and birdwing butterfly which I made using Inkscape software.


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Bower Bird from Tropical rainforest of Arfak Mountains

by Charles Roring
The tropical rainforest of the bird's head region in the Arfak mountains of Manokwari regency has been an interesting destination for tourists who want to watch bower birds. Vogelkop bower bird is an endemic species of Arfak mountains. This species does not have beautiful plume or feather compared to birds of paradise but it has got several unique characteristics which attract a lot of birders to come to West Papua just to see it. The male bower birds build arch structures made of twigs and dry grasses and decorate them with bright colored articles such as fruits, flowers (and recently plastic wastes) to attract female bower birds.
To see those vogelkop bower birds, first, tourists must fly to Manokwari city (the capital of West Papua province in the Republic of Indonesia). After taking a rest for one or two days and buying food supplies in the city, tourists can continue their trip to Arfak mountains that are still covered with tropical rainforest but are increasingly facing deforestation. The villages that have become the destination for watching the bower birds are Kwau and Syioubri. These two neighboring villages are located at higher elevation region of Arfak mountains. It takes around two hours car ride to reach one of the villages.
The above video made by a Dutch tourist, Lian Schepers, shows how a male bower bird decorates his bower with plastic articles which he finds from the nearby area roads and villages. It is sad to see that the articles were plastic wastes instead of fresh flowers or fruits. Therefore, we advice tourists and villagers to wisely handle their plastic wastes while hiking through the rainforest of Arfak mountains so that the bower birds will not pick them up and use them for their display stage decoration. Besides watching the bower birds, tourists can also see the magnificent birds of paradise, Western parotia, spotted catbird, pitohui and many other species of birds that are endemic to Papua island. 
I compiled the photographs and videos of Arfak mountains and the bower birds to promote ecotourism in Manokwari. I hope that ecotourism can provide alternative jobs to the indigenous Papuan people in Arfak mountains so that they will not be tempted to sell their lands to investors who will exploit the timber and clear the land for monoculture palm oil plantation. To book a rainforest to in Manokwari, please, contact me by email to peace4wp@gmail.com

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Traveling to Numfor island and Snorkeling in Manem islet

I and three tourists from the Netherlands (Wally, Trudy and Lian Schepers), together with some Papua as boat drivers, went to Manem island on 28 October 2010. We enjoyed swimming and snorkeling in its surrounding waters. The coral reef is still in very good condition making it an ideal place for tourists who want to take underwater pictures. Coral reef is the tropical rainforest of the ocean. When it carries out photosynthesis, it absorbs CO2 gases from the atmosphere that have already been dissolved through contacts with the sea water at the surface level. In other words, coral reef's function is the same as tropical rainforest. Its biodiversity is even higher than the rainforests. Because there is no diving center in Numfor, scuba divers and snorkelers must bring their own gears.
 

If there are any of you who want to travel to this tropical island and need a guide, please, contact me - Charles Roring - via an e-mail peace4wp@gmail.com, I will be happy to arrange your trip there and to be your guide while traveling around this beautiful tropical paradise.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Tropical Rainforest as the Source of Papuan Music Inspiration - Part 4

The tropical rainforest of Numfor island is not only the source of food but also the source of art inspiration. Papuan musicians have created songs as part of their appreciation and love to the beauty of the nature and the rainforest.
When we went to see rusted machine guns and bombs which were World War II ordnance left by the American and the Japanese forces, we saw some traditional Papuan guitars at Mr. Simon Wanma's house. According to his explanation, the Papuan musicians like to come to his house at night to practice playing and singing their traditional songs. I found it interesting so I suggested to the Schepers whether they would come at night. They agreed that after eating dinner, they would come to see the "traditional Papuan music performance."
At night around 9 p.m. we walked to Mr. Simon Wanma's house again. After fifteen minutes walking, I told the Schepers that I need to stop by Piet Rumbiak's house to meet him for arranging the next day trip to Manem island where we would swim and snorkel around the coral reef which is the tropical rainforest of the ocean. So, I stopped at Mr. Rumbiak's house whereas the Schepers continued walking to Mr. Wanma's house.
Mr. Rumbiak was talking on the phone near the beach at the back of his house when I arrived. A few minutes later, we were discussing things related to our next day trip to Manem island. He suggested that we buy gasoline and oil in Yemburwo village before going to find a boat in villages that are located closer to the Manem island. When everything had been settled or arranged I left him for Mr. Wanma's house. It was not far and I only needed less than five minutes to find the house. It was quite. The Schepers had just been there less then five minutes too. I thought I walked faster than them. Well, the music performance had not been started. Perhaps it was because of the rain that was pouring over the village one hour ago.
Mr. Wanma went out of his house and told some of his assistants to call the musicians. They quickly rode bicycles to find the musicians and brought them to Mr. Wanma's house. Around fifteen to twenty minutes later, most of the musicians came. They set their instruments and made some preparations for the night's performance. I was amazed to see that they didn't need a lot of directions from their leader. Mr. Simon Wanma was their tribal leader but he might not be a musician. So, there has to be a leader among the music players but I could not find which one he was.
First they started playing their music instruments. All of them look like guitars but each has different size and function. Bass player was sitting on the floor with a cigarette between his fingers. They were playing and singing for around thirty minutes without any brake. It's amazing. Their songs are messages to Papuan especially the Biak tribe to love their lands, their tropical rainforest and their sea. The tropical rainforest and its surrounding nature is home not only to the animals but also to them as the indigenous people who have been living in the Biak, Numfor (Schouten) islands for generations.  
After listening to the songs, Wally Schepers sang one song (in English language) to them. Before going back to the losmen of Klasis Numfor, the Schepers said that they would try to invite these musicians to the Netherlands. by Charles Roring
Also read: 

Tropical Rainforest of Numfor Island - the battle ground between the US and the Japanese Forces - Part 3

Between 1941-1944 Japanese occupied New Guinea island including the Numfor island that was still covered with tropical rainforest. Only small groups of Dutch troops that still continued the guerrilla fighting in the surrounding jungle of Manokwari. All of the Dutch troops in the Netherlands Nieuw Guinea had surrendered to the Japanese troops. Entering the 1943 and 1944, the American forces fought back. First they pushed the Imperial Japanese Navy out of Guadalcanal of Solomon islands, and Papua New Guinea. Second they entered Western half of the island in 1944. Hollandia was their first target, then Biak and Numfor islands. The Japanese troops had built air strips in this island and hid in the caves located in the tropical rainforest of the island. To defeat the Japanese, the American forces launched massive bombings and landed thousands of troops. It was not easy for both sides of the warring parties especially for the Japanese.  Many of the soldiers died not because of fierce gun fighting but malaria and lack of food. The Japanese army were defeated easily overwhelmed in number of troops and weapon technology. Well, that's a little story about war in the tropical rainforest of Numfor island.
Also read:
Part 1 Numfor Island Tropical Rainforest and Coral Reef
Part 2 Bird Watching in Tropical Rainforest of Numfor Island
I returned to my homestay after drinking coconut juice at Penginapan Klasis with the Schepers family. The homestay is located at the south of the Numfor airport. It belongs to Yonathan Rumbewas, a Papuan who works as construction worker. He built his house near the tropical rainforest which in the morning is always filled with the sounds of various species of birds. Coconut trees grow around his house creating a peaceful and cool atmosphere. Although during the mid-day the temperature of this tropical island is quite hot, the house stays cool due to a lot of green vegetation around it. The trees of the tropical rainforest absorb the CO2 gases during the photosynthesis and emit fresh oxygen that can be felt in the houses that are located near the forest.
In the afternoon, I walked to the Penginapan Klasis again to meet the Schepers. They were not there. There were at an eating house across from the losmen. I went there to offer another day trip to visit "World War II Museum" at Mr. Simon Wanma's house. They invited me to have lunch in that "rumah makan." I ate rice, carrot and cabbage soup and fried fish covered with chilli sauce. They ate noodle soup. They complained that they could not always eat rice. In addition the chili sauce was too hot for them. So, I decided to ask the woman to arrange food for the next days that is more suitable for them. She agreed to help them by making fried sukun (bread fruit), vegetables, and pisang goreng. With this arrangement, the Schepers could enjoy their food well.
After having lunch, I went out to find a public transportation that could carry us to Simon Wanma's house. I met someone named Piet Rumbiak. He was an old "taxi" driver. His car was a minivan Suzuki Carry. He was glad to meet these Dutch tourists. When I mentioned that Mr. Wally Schepers was born in Manokwari, Piet said that he used to live in Manokwari.
Fifteen minutes later, we were now at the World War II "Museum." Mr. Wanma bought some old machine guns and other ordnance from the local Papuans to avoid them from being sold to old iron buyers where they would be smelted and recycled to produce new metal products. For Mr. Simon Wanma, these old guns and bombs should be preserved for future generations of Numfor people so that they will know the history of the island. Fortunately these rustic machine guns and bomb could not be used anymore. by Charles Roring

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