Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Bats Have Left Mansinam Island of Manokwari Forever

This week Mansinam island will become the center of attention for all Christians in Papua. On 5 February thousands of Christians will gather on this island to celebrate the Gospel Landing Day. On 5 February 1855 two European evangelists landed on Mansinam island to preach Christianity to the indigenous Papuan. Well, I am not going to talk about this event. In today's post, I just want to remind us about bats of Mansinam - night flying animals that used to live at the south eastern region of the island.
When I was a high school student some twenty years ago, I visited Manggewa beach that was located at the back of the island. I and my friends swam and had a barbecue there. Behind us were tropical rainforest where bats hanged during the day. There were lots of them. When we were there, I saw some people were shooting the bats. I was sad but I could not do anything.
Now more and more people have come to the island and settled there. More of these animals were hunted. And more trees have to be cut to make way for new housings. Being threatened by huntings and rapid clearing of Mansinam forest, these bats had to move to the main Papua island. Before I left for Maluku to study naval architecture, I saw thousands of bats flying over Manokwari town to the west area, i.e. to the forest area that is still in pristine condition. I thought they flew there to find food as usual.
Last January 2010, three Russian eco-tourists Mikhail, Inga, and Dima landed on Manggewa beach of Mansinam island in order to find the bats. They were sad because those bats were not there anymore. The trees were empty. It is not surprising to find out that wild bats have gone. Bats were not the only animals that onced lived in Mansinam island. When I was a child, local Papuan used to say that deers and kuskus were living in Mansinam. Now it seems that no wild animals can be found living on the island.
Just two or three days ago, I watched a good program on CNA about a protected forest in the middle of Singapore island. CNA or Channel News Asia is a Singaporean based satellite TV. The local government and the citizens there really understand how important the hill in the middle of the island is as the sanctuary for the endemic wildlife that have been living on the island. Although Singapore is now a big city with millions of dwellers, the government still provide and protect a large area of tropical rainforest on the island. I am not sure if the local government of Manokwari regency and West Papua Province here will do the same.  Also read: Traveling to Mansinam Island

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