Sunday, October 31, 2010

Bird Watching in Tropical Rainforest of Numfor Island - Part 2

The tropical island of Numfor is the natural habitat of hundreds of species of coastal or rainforest birds. The rainforest depends on them as fertilizer and seed dispersers and at the same time the birds depend on the rainforest as their home. Sea birds eat fish. Their feces are very good fertilizer to the soil of the island. This post is my second story about Traveling in Numfor island. The first one was Numfor island Tropical Rainforest and Coral Reef - Part 1.
Eclectus Parrot
Eclectus Parrot
The three tourists left the ferry boat and walked through the crowd of passengers and their relatives who came to the harbor to welcome them. When we were on the pier, I told Lian Schepers that they should buy some fish for dinner. She agreed with that and bought some fish. Their price was 20 thousand rupiahs. I had to find a car which would bring them to Yemburwo village located in the north of the island.
Ferry boat Kasuari Pasifik IV
I finally could find one. After negotiating the price with the driver, we agreed to pay 25 thousand rupiahs per person for the 1.5 hour ride to the district capital of East Numfor. The number of passengers which the car carried was 15 people not including the luggages between our legs and on the roof of the car. Actually the normal carrying capacity of this public transportation is 10 but the driver needed more money to stay profitable in this business by carrying more goods and more people. Personally, I was worried that this over capacity could create an accident but fortunately everything was just fine.
Boat harbor in Numfor islans
We arrived in Yemburwo village when it had been dark. It was a large coastal village located along the beach of the Numfor island. Mr. Rumbewas who manages the penginapan klasis (that belongs to GKI church) had to repair the water pump and clean and the tub before the tourists could use them for taking a shower. Lian gave the fish to Mr. Rumbewas where they would be fried for their dinner. I left them at around 9 p.m. after informing them that the next morning activity would be bird watching along the road outside the Yemburwo village. When I left them, the fried fish had not come. I stayed in Mr. Yonathan Rumbewas' home. As a host family, he was very helpful.
Willie Wagtail
Willie Wagtail
The next morning, I came to the Penginapan Klasis to meet the Dutch tourists to guide them for a bird watching trip not far from the village. I was accompanied by Hari Wanma, a relative of Yonathan Rumbewas. Lian Schepers told me the fried fish came at 11 p.m. too late for dinner. She gave them to the dogs. At around 6 a.m. we walked to the west of the village. Some of the villagers had come out of their houses perhaps to catch some fish at the beach during the low tide for their breakfast.
Japanese War Memorial
Numfor island was a battle ground between the US and the Japanese forces during World War II. While walking along the road that devides the Yemburwo village into two parts, I saw a Japanese World War II Memorial Monument. I shot some pictures of it. I don't know the meaning of the inscription written on the monument but I believe that it was to honor the Japanese soldiers who had fallen on the island during fierce battles against the US forces.
Some birds were flying above our heads. Black birds with white color on their chests and stomachs. They had white eyebrows.  The most common species that we saw that morning. They were Willie Wagtail (Rhipidura leucophrys). They were playing on both sides of the roads on the fences of the houses or on the lower branches of the trees. Two red lories flew to the coconut trees that grow along the beach. They were female Black-capped Lory. I really regretted of not carrying a long lens camera during my tour to Numfor. Next time, when I go to this tropical island again, I will bring a better camera.
We also saw a black bird. It was Torresian Crow. However, I prefered to call it crab eater. The Back bird often landed on the road near a swamp just outside the Yemburwo village. Crabs frequently crossed the swamp. In another occasion, I saw Numfor Paradise Kingfisher in the forest not far from the airport.
Mr. Schepers told me whether they could buy some fruits in the island for their breakfast. When we passed by a house, we stopped and asked an old man who was working as ojek driver (ojek was a motorcycle taxi) to find fruits in the nearby village. He promised to find them for the Schepers. We return to the Losmen Klassis at around 10 a.m. One hour later, the ojek driver brought some papaya fruits. We already had some coconuts picked by Hari Wanma our Papuan tour guide that morning.
Introducing bird watching trips for tourists to Numfor island is important to help the local Papuan preserve the birds there. I see that the population of birds in the island is being threatened due to bird trading. The local Papuan youth catch the birds and sell them to buyers in Biak town and Manokwari city. If more tourists come to watch birds in the tropical rainforest of Numfor island, I believe that the hunting of birds can be stopped. by Charles Roring
Related posts:
Traditional Dancers and Musicians from Numfor island
Mangrove Forest from Numfor Island
Snorkeling and Birdwatching Vacation to Numfor island
Tropical Rainforest of Numfor island - the Battle Ground between the US and the Japanese Forces - Part 3

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Traveling to Numfor island - tropical rainforest and coral reef - Part 1

Numfor island is located in the Cendrawasih or (Geelvink) bay of Papua island. Papua is also called New Guinea - the largest TROPICAL island in the world. Numfor as its satellite island is still covered with tropical rainforest which is the home of a lot of species of coastal or lowland birds. Coconut trees and mangroves are the main vegetation of the coastal region. I went there on 25 October 2010 and returned on 29 October 2010. I went by Yap Wairon, a steel boat that is operated by PT. Armada Bandar Bangun Persada - an affiliate of PELNI. This boat can carry up to around 200 economic class passengers. The price of the ticket was Rp. 30,000/person from Manokwari to Numfor. For VIP seats which are fully air conditioned, the price was Rp. 90,000 per passenger.

Because this was my first visit to the tropical island, I hired a Papuan young man named Hari Wanma as my guide. We left Manokwari at 12 midnight and arrived in Numfor at 5 the next morning. When I saw Numfor island from close distance, I could tell that this is the perfect place for tourists who love to see birds and who want to enjoy its beautiful marine environment.
After having breakfast in the harbor, I and Hari went to Yemburwo village by Ojek (motorcycle taxi). I asked the ojek driver to stop several times on some beaches to let me take pictures of the bay, the forest and the birds. I was amazed to see a lot of birds along our trip from the ship harbor to Yemburwo, the district capital of East Numfor.
The night before going to Numfor, I sent a text message to Lian Schepers whether she and her uncle and aunt were interested in going to Numfor island. She said they were discussing this matter. Hari took me to his uncle and aunt's house where I would stay there with him for three days. I paid 150 thousand rupiahs for the three-day stay. It was located some one hundred meters from the airport. Numfor island in the morning was very quite. Different from Manokwari that is usually busy with cars and motorcycles of parents who bring their children to school and of government employees who go to work, Numfor island was only filled by the sounds of waves and birds.
After taking a rest and eating breakfast, I tried to call Lian again. She said that they were now at Manokwari ship harbor asking information about the ship that would leave for Numfor that morning. Several hours later she sent another text message that they were on board of Kasuari Pasifik (a roro vessel which is a ferry that connects Manokwari, Numfor and Biak). They would arrive in the afternoon at around 5 p.m.. I took the opportunity to make a little survey around the island. First I met Mr. Fredy Rumbewas - the "manager" of Penginapan Klassis Numfor to arrange the accommodation for the Dutch tourists, Second, I rent a motorcycle for that day eco-tourism survey trip. The motorcycle was not really in good condition. Hari broke its brake so, I had to pay 150 thousand rupiahs for the rent and the broken brake. In addition I had to pay Hari another 150 thousand rupiahs for being my guide in Numfor.
I went to Amberimasi to see an unfinished Losmen constructed by Mathias Rumbruren and his relatives for tourists. When I got to the losmen, it was actually not ready to receive tourists - no electricity, no food and no furniture. It was only an empty but nice bungalow located at an idylic bay of Amberimasi lagoon. There is a small island across from the lagoon. I forgot its name People can walk to the lagoon when the tide is low. After interviewing Mesakh Rumbruren - an elder brother of Mathias Rumruren who is now a teacher of a vocational high school (SMK) in Manokwari, I continued my trip to the Ship Harbor to meet Wally, Trudy, and Lian Schepers - three tourists from the Netherlands. I arrived at the harbor at around 3 p.m. I stopped by the "cafe" where I met Mr. Bowo Adi. A mountain bike enthusiast who had just finished cycling around the Numfor island. We had a deep discussion with some Papuan who were also waiting for the ferry about how to develop eco-tourism industry in Numfor island and Papua island as a whole. I said that I was very interested in introducing mountain bikes to tourists who want to travel around Manokwari and Numfor as part of my eco-tourism promotional project. He advised me the manufacturers of mountain bikes that are suitable for foreign tourists whose physical weights are mostly heavier than the average Papuan or Indonesian people. It was a nice discussion and we agreed to meet again when I have returned to Manokwari again.
At around 5 p.m. the Kasuari Pasifik ferry arrived. I introduced Mr. Bowo Adi to Wally, Trudy and Lian Schepers saying that he was one of the pioneers of mountain bikers who promote cycling as an alternative transport means of going around Manokwari city. by Charles Roring
If you are interested in visiting Numfor island and need a tour guide, you can contact me, Charles Roring, via email: I'll be happy to arrange your trip to that beautiful tropical paradise. Here in this island, tourists can see birds in the morning and in the afternoon while hiking through the tropical rainforest and along the beach. Tourists can also enjoy snorkeling around the beautiful coral reef both in Numfor and Manem islands.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Tropical rainforest in the mountains and islands around Wasior

Several days ago I uploaded an article entitled, Tropical Rainforest in the Mountains Along the Northern Coast of Manokwari as part of my efforts in promoting the area for eco-tourism scheme that can provide alternative jobs to the indigenous Papuan villagers who live there. This time, I will write about the Wondama bay regency. The recent flood disaster in Wasior town reminds us to give more attention to the preservation of tropical rainforest and on the creation of alternative jobs to the indigenous Papuan people that will not destructively exploit forest and marine environment. Last September before the flood disaster, Pieter Wieringa and his wife, two Dutch tourists, visited the town. They went there to meet their relatives. While in Wasior, his wife took a lot of pictures of the scenery of the islands and mountains that are still covered with tropical rainforest.
Tropical rainforest and coral reef as the focus of responsible eco-tourism promotion
Before leaving for Bali and then to the Netherlands, Mr. Wieringa invited me to YAT Losmen for some discussions on how we can promote eco-tourism in Wasior through the photographs of rainforest and coral reef or marine environment that are still in pristine condition. He gave me more than 700 pictures of the mountains, the villages, the dark green rainforest and the beautiful blue sea and the islands both in the Geelvink bay and Wondama bay of the Papua island.
After the flood disaster, I was thinking of postponing the promotion of eco-tourism for Wasior or the Wondama bay regency as a whole because in my opinion, the town will not be ready to receive tourists. It is difficult to develop tourism industry in a town which has just been hit by flood. But I see that promoting the beauty of the coral reef and the tropical rainforest of the Wondama bay regency will bring hope to the people in Wasior and the villages in the region that they still can rely on their natural resources as the source of income through responsible eco-tourism.
I haven't checked or contacted the local authorities whether tourists are still allowed to enter the town because the emergency respond to help the victims of the flood is still going on. After the emergency respond, the restoration efforts to normalize the economy of the town will be started. I think the town will be ready to receive tourists again in January 2010. I disagree with the opinion which says that eco-tourism campaigns for Wasior should be suspended. For me, there are still other villages in the regency that are not hit by the flood. If tourists go to those villages then they will still be able to go hiking through the tropical rainforest or enjoy snorkeling around the waters of some tropical islands in the bay.
Eco-tourism can provide jobs and reduce deforestation
The financial contribution from eco-tourism will greatly help the local Papuan. I also see that eco-tourism can be considered as trauma healing scheme. People should see their nature as friend and not as an enemy. Tropical rainforest in West Papua is facing the same problem as the tropical rainforest in Amazon region of South America. Forest clearing for palm plantations and timber exploitation really threatens the island. It is not only Wasior whose rainforest is being cut. Logging also occurs in almost every part of the New Guinea island the meet the domestic and international demand for wood that is used in construction and furniture industries.
This afternoon, an old friend of mine visited me. We have not met for around 18 years. He came to Manokwari city with a team of volunteers from Bandung who will go to Wasior to help the victims and refugees who are still living in the small town. During our 3 hours discussions, I explained to him a number of alternative schemes which we can do to help the Papuan people develop their economy without destroying or overly exploited the enviroment. He agreed with the idea saying that he also wants to develop agro-tourism for Manokwari. He said that he is now thinking of moving back to Papua for realizing his dream. Actually he is a Papuan who was born in Manokwari. He also grew up here but now is working for an NGO in Java.
I hope that all of us in Papua and around the world take the Wasior flood as a very expensive lesson and begin to change our lifestyle to be more friendly to our environment.
Last November, I, and Monique - a volunteer of SDSP foundation, visited the refugee camp of Wasior flood victims at the Tanjung BLK of Manokwari. I met a young man named Jackson. He could speak English well - at least for simple conversation. His grammar was also good compared to other youth of similar age to him. When having a conversation with him about ecotourism, I had an idea of appointing him as guide for tourists who want to travel around Wasior to see the beautiful nature of the tropical rainforest and the mountains of the Wondama bay regency. He is very potential to work as tour guide and he is willing to learn about the environment.
If you are interested in visiting Wasior or Wondama bay regency to go hiking in the forest or enjoy snorkeling among the coral reefs of the islands in the bay, you can contact me - Charles Roring - via email for more information about it. I'll be happy to arrange a trip for you to the region.
Also read:
Tropical rainforest preservation in district Senopi
Tropical rainforest of Arfak mountains
Birds from the tropical rainforest of Manokwari Papua
Tropical rainforest a great tourist attraction in Manokwari Papua
Arfak mountains
Watching beetles in the tropical rainforest

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tropical rainforest in Mountains Along the Northern coast of Manokwari

Three days ago I wrote about Tropical rainforest of Arfak Mountains. Now I am going to share you my story about Pantura. Tropical rainforest in the mountains along the north coast of Manokwari is still in very good condition. It is also high in biodiversity both in the mountainous region and in the coral reef around some rock islets and Kaki island. You might wonder why I consider coral reef as tropical rainforest of the ocean. It is indeed a tropical rainforest because it absorbs CO2 gases through photosynthesis processes, that we emit everyday, balancing the earth's biosphere. In addition, the coral reef has a lot of species of marine animals. The biodiversity of coral reef is even higher then the tropical rainforest. I have been there several times guiding tourists on snorkeling trip or hiking with a friend of mine surveying some nice places to be promoted for my eco-tourism project.
The northern coast of Manokwari is also called Pantura meaning in Indonesian language Pantai Utara or "Beach North." I like hiking in the rainforest of Pantura because it can be visited by public transportation or ojek - a motorcycle taxi which is the cheapest way to travel around the region. In one tour, I can enjoy both the beauty of the beach and the tropical rainforest.
The easiest way to see the insects, birds, and mammals or reptiles is by entering the forest through a river. There are a lot of small rivers in the area. My favorite one is Asai. The water flows slowly enabling us to cross it or to walk along its banks without any difficulties. More animals can be found in the forest near the river because they depend on water.
While I was standing deep in the forest of the Asai river several kilometers from the main road, I had a chance of taking some nice pictures of tiger beetle. There were two of them mating on the sandy sediment of river bank. These insects were not afraid of me while I was slowly approaching them with a digital camera in my hands. I tried not to make many movements that could scare them away. After taking their pictures, I continued my exploration inside the forest. Above my head was the sound of sulphur-crested cockatoo breaking the calmness of the surrounding environment.
I also saw some nice birds catching fish in shallow water. I was sad that I did not bring a long lens camera to shoot them. I promised to myself that one day if I returned to this river again, I would bring a better camera. After eating lunch and taking a break for one hour, I walked back to the main road. I had not been walking for fifteen minutes when suddenly I saw a snake on the branches of a tree. It was going down the tree. I tried to move closer to this exotic reptile. I was surprised to see through the LCD screen of my digital camera that it was coming closer to me.
I was nervous actually when I realized about the situation. I could feel my hands trembling with fear guessing that it could bite me I did not step back immediately. Well, I managed to take some pictures of this wonderful reptile although most of them were blurred due to my trembling hands.
If you are interested in visiting Manokwari to enjoy the beauty and see the high biodiversity of the coral reef and the tropical rainforest, you can contact me, Charles Roring, via my email I will be happy to guide you around this wonderful nature.
Also read:
Birds from the tropical rainforest of Manokwari Papua
Arfak mountains
Tropical rainforest preservation in district Senopi

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Tropical Rainforest of Arfak Mountains

Tropical rainforest in the Arfak mountains always attracts tourists from around the world. They visit the region to see the endemic New Guinea animals and plants. Located in the south of Manokwari city-the capital of West Papua province, Arfak mountains can be reached by motorcycle or car. Flora and fauna in the low elevation areas are different from the ones that live in high elevation areas. For example, the magnificent birds of paradise and bower birds are commonly found on the slopes of the mountains near the summits. For tourists who want to see tree kangaroos, hornbills and sulphur crested cockatoos, the recommended destinations would be the coastal villages such as Warkapi, Hangow or district of Ransiki. Also read: Tropical Rainforest Preservation in the District of Senopi.
Coastal villages
Last week, I had a one day tour along the coastal villages from Lake Kabori, Maruni, Mupi, Warkapi, Hangow, Oransbari and Ransiki. I traveled by DAMRI bus, a state owned land transportation company. The rainforest condition in Mupi, Warkapi and Hango is still good. From my personal observation, some areas of the rainforest near the villages had been cleared by the indigenous people for cassava and caladium gardens, the main staple food in Papua or New Guinea island. Last January 2010, three Russian tourists went to Warkapi. They did some bird watching tour a long a fast stream river near Warkapi. From their photographs and stories, birds could easily be seen flying around the trees if watched from the open space created by the river. Bird watching activities in the tropical rainforest are usually difficult if they are done from inside the forest especially when we walk through the jungle under the canopy of the forest. Sunlight cannot easily penetrate the canopy that is covered with dense green vegetation of the trees. For taking photographs of birds, we need long lens camera. Don't forget to bring extra batteries because electricity is not always available. I always bring plastic bags in the pockets of my backpack to cover my electronic equipment in case if it rains. Night walk, guided by local Papuan villagers, can also be done in Warmarway if tourists want to see nocturnal animals such as cuscus possum and Papuan Frogmouth (a kind of owl).

Tree Kangaroo
Arfak range is formed by steep mountains and deep ravines. One of the places that I recommend for tourists in Mupi Gunung. It is a new location for visitors who want to see pristine rainforest and wild animals such as birds of paradise and tree kangaroo. As a tourist guide, I highly recommend Mupi Gunung as your destination for wildlife watching in West Papua. But you need to be physically fit to go trekking to Mupi Gunung area of Arfak mountains. Please, read my trip report: Trekking and Watching Tree Kangaroo in Arfak range for more info about it.
After reading this article, you can see that the tropical rainforest of Arfak mountains is not only useful in absorbing CO2 gases that we emit to the atmosphere everyday but also in providing food, recreational areas and herbs for health treatment. If you interested in visiting Arfak mountains, and need more information about the region, you can contact me, Charles Roring, via email
Also read:
Watching beetles in the tropical rainforest of Manokwari
Arfak mountains

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Tropical rainforest preservation in District Senopi

Tropical rainforest of District Senopi is one of the best hiking trip destinations in the bird's head region of West Papua province. I have been trying to help the indigenous Papuan people preserving their rainforest through the promotion of ecotourism schemes for Tambrauw Mountains, Arfak mountains and the Table Mountain. The objective of the promotion is to attract tourists to Manokwari regency so that they can enjoy the natural beauty of the high biodiversity of the forest and at the same time give financial support to the eco-tourism service providers that are mostly run by the indigenous people of Papua. New threat to Papua tropical rainforest occurs every day, from illegal logging to forest clearing for palm oil plantation. When this responsible tourism program can provide jobs and generate income for the Papuan people, they will not be interested in giving  up their  land and forest to the logging companies and palm oil plantation corporations that are now threatening every square inch of the forest in Papua. No Forest-No Tourists, and No tourists means No Money.
Tropical rainforest in District Senopi of Tambrauw mountains
Rainforest in Tambrauw Mountains
Senopi Village of Tambrauw Mountains
Senopi is a district located around 200 kilometers from Manokwari city. Most part of the region is still covered with tropical rainforest. Its nearby Kebar district has the largest savanna in the birds head region of West Papua. Some tourists have already visited Senopi. They went there to enjoy hiking tours in the jungle where they would see male lesser birds of paradise dancing on the branches and twigs of a tree located some two hours walk from the village. Early in the morning and in the afternoon before sunset, male birds of paradise gather in a tree to perform courtship dance in front of some female birds of paradise as their spectators. This is a very beautiful scene for nature lovers. Besides watching birds of paradise, tourists can also see various kinds of tropical rainforest animals such as kuskus, tree kangaroo, boars and other beautiful birds such as hornbills and sulphur-crested cockatoo.
The best time to see the birds is early in the morning. They usually can be found in flowering or fruiting trees. It is not difficult to reach Senopi. Once you arrive in Manokwari, you can go to YAT Losmen or contact me  via my email to arrange a car to the village.
Other important tourist attractions in Senopi are the population of deers (Cervus timorensis) that you will sometimes meet while hiking through the jungle of the district. More birds species can also be seen on the Aiwatar Hill which is located some 4 hours walk from Senopi. It is better for you to stay one night by the Kamundan river and very early in the morning  you can climb the hill to watch the birds drinking salty water that comes out of the ground until they get drunk.
I have been traveling a lot in recent months taking pictures of birds, butterfly, coral reef, ornamental fish and anything that represents the high biodiversity of the tropical rainforest and coral reef of West Papua. But my bird watching journey to Airwatar Hill is one of the most memorable experiences that I've ever had. Unfortunately, this birding center is still not known among the birding communities around the world.
I hope that the increasing number of tourists going to Senopi to enjoy hiking tours will help the indigenous Papuan villagers improve their living condition and at the same time protect their forest and its surrounding environment for future Papuan generations. by Charles Roring
Also read:
6 Hiking tour destinations in Arfak mountains
Rainforest of Arfak Mountains as tourist destination
Tropical rainforest a great tourist attraction in Manokwari Papua

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wasior before the flood disaster

Wasior is the capital of Wondama bay regency. It used to be a district under the administration of Manokwari regency several years ago. Wasior was a transit town for tourists who want to enjoy scuba diving and snorkeling in the National Park of Cendrawasih bay or Geelvink bay. Now, tourists could not visit the town anymore. Actually they can still visit the park but through a small district town, Ransiki. Early this October 2010, this small town was hit by flood that destroyed most of the buildings in the city after heavy rain in the previous night. Hundreds of people dead and thousands of refugees left the town for Nabire town and Manokwari city - the capital of West Papua province in the Republic of Indonesia.
Environmental activists blame the government for giving to much concession to logging companies that irresponsibly clear the forest area of the mountains behind Wasior town. In reaction to this matter, local and central government officials responded by saying that the flood was caused by extreme weather. It is clear that there is massive logging operation in the area, no doubt about it and thousands of hectares of tropical rainforest have been cleared for precious logs which are needed by industries in Malaysia and China.
I will not judge people for this disaster but it is the best time for us to review our lifestyle to be more environmentally friendly. If we always travel around our cities with cars or motorcycles, I think we should try to walk or ride bicycles instead. Perhaps while you read this blog, you might say, "Well, I live far from Wasior, why should I care?" Natural disaster can occur everywhere. The global warming and extreme weather that we experience now are said to be the result of the cutting of tropical rainforest and our behaviour in increasingly emitting CO2 gases through our cars, motorcycles or heater and air conditioning machines.
Well, I am not going to discuss the case of illegal logging in Wasior in this article but I just want to show you how beautiful this small town was when the flood had not hit it. Last July a Dutch family visited the town. They were the Labrees. They were accompanied by Paul Gasper a tour guide who just passed away in September 2010. While the airplane of Susi Air was flying approaching the town, he recorded some aerial videos and photographs which I have compiled and put in this blog for all of you to watch. Through this post, I want to express my condolences to all the victims of Wasior flood and their families. by Charles Roring
Also read:  
  • The Visit of the Labree Family to Wasior
  • Wasior before the flood

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Coral Reef and the Beach Clean-up Activities of Pak Jordan

A few days ago I accompanied 5 Dutch tourists traveling around Mansinam and Lemon islands. We enjoyed snorkeling in Mansinam island. Although Mansinam is only a small island, it is still covered with pristine tropical rainforest. The weather was very clear at that time. We were able to take very nice pictures of coral reef and fish. The fish were colorful and were not afraid to be near us.

After snorkeling, we continued our trip to the house of Peter Rumbruren, a Papuan artist who used to go to the Netherlands as part of a group of Papuan artists who performed traditional dances in Pasar Malam. Unfortunately, Peter Rumbruren was not at his home. We could only meet his wife and children. She picked some coconuts and opened them for us. The coconut juice was very delicious when we were drinking it that afternoon.
We were at Peter's house for around one hour and then we had to continue our trip that day to Lemon island. This time we did not swim or snorkel around. Instead we met an old Papuan who collects plastic bottles along the beach of Lemon island. His name is Jordan. He was raised by a Dutch family when West Papua was still part of the Netherlands colony. Wally Schepers, one of the Dutch tourists, gave special attention to his works. He welcomed us in his wooden house that is facing the beach. Wally took a chance of interviewing him a little about his motivation in collecting the plastic bottles, aluminum cans and glass bottles that are thrown by city dwellers in Manokwari and end up at the beach of Lemon island when the rain comes. Oom Jordan (his nick name) says that he collects the bottles to keep the beach clean. But he does not go to the city to sell the wastes. Sometimes people come to the island to buy them and resell them to a buyer in the city near the Wosi market.
Pak Jordan showed his enthusiasm when discussing ways to clean the waters of the Dorey bay of Manokwari and the islands. During the World Cup Football Season, he installed a big Dutch flag at the top of a tree near his house. The Dutch flag is still flying there now. Many Papuans still have the Dutch flags at the roofs of their houses or at the top of trees until now although the World Cup season in South Africa has been over for months. He planted 4 trees tens of years ago when the island was not crowded by people. Now the trees have been big. Pak Jordan explains that the planting of trees along the beach is very important for protecting the beach from erosion. He looked sad when saying that other people in the island have not followed his efforts in keeping the beach clean. 
The Lemon and Mansinam islands are surrounded by beautiful coral reefs that are "the tropical rainforest of the sea." They look strong but actually they are very vulnerable to marine pollution. If plastic bottles and tote bags drift to the area and cover the corals, sunlight cannot reach them. Algae that live on the surface of the corals cannot do the photosynthesis. This greatly affects the production of food for fish and marine animals living in the coral reef area. It also undermines the absorption of CO2 gases that we emit every day.
It is important for the local government to have a comprehensive waste management program that encourages the city dwellers to fully participate in the collection of wastes so that marine pollution in the waters of Dorey bay can be reduced. 
With its current status as the capital of West Papua province in the Republic of Indonesia, Manokwari city is now experiencing rapid development. This triggers urbanization. People from other small villages and towns near Manokwari flock to this city. Even migrants from Java, Maluku and Sulawesi come to this coastal city to find jobs. The amount of wastes is definitely increasing in this city. It is now time for the government and the citizens to join hands to clean the city, beach and waters for protecting and preserving the coral reef in the Dorey bay before it is too late.

Manokwari city is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Every month tourists come to this city. If we are serious in developing this beautiful city as a leading player in eco-tourism that provide jobs to a lot of people and generate income to Papuan people living both along the coastal and mountainous region, the problem of plastic bottles and other industrial and domestic wastes that are now scattering all over the city and floating on the surface of the sea inside the Dorey bay has to be solved immediately. by Charles Roring
Also read: Underwater Photograph of Coral Reef in Mansinam island

Monday, October 11, 2010

Christmas Vacation in Tropical island of Papua

Where will you go during this Christmas holiday?
Christmas time is coming. Europe, Northern China, Japan and the United States will be in Winter again. Some people have already planned to spend their holidays in the Caribbean islands while others are probably willing to dive in Sinai region of Egypt. Well, I have a better offer to you, the tropical island of Papua. It is the largest tropical island in the world. In the world map, Papua is also called New Guinea. The eastern half of the island is administered by a free independent state of Papua New Guinea whereas the western half - the Republic of Indonesia. Indonesia is located between the continents of Asia and Australia and the Pacific and the Indian Oceans.
Beautiful coastal city
Manokwari is a very beautiful city. It stretches along the Dorey bay that is surrounded by Arfak and Table Mountains. Along the coastal region of the inner side of the bay, tourists can enjoy swimming and snorkeling at Pasir Putih beach, Maruni beach or around the Mansinam, Lemon and Raimuti islands. There are around 4 small and big lakes in the southern area of the city at the foot of Arfak mountains. 
From snorkeling to deer watching and bird watching
There are a lot of ecotourism activities which tourists can choose while traveling to Manokwari. Those who love sun bathing can go to Mansinam island. Those who love surfing can go to Pantura beach where waves from the Pacific Ocean can reach up to 3 meters on certain months from December up to April. If you are somebody who likes taking photographs of nature, Manokwari regency has a lot to offer. From underwater world of coral reef and ornamental fish in Kaki island, to lesser birds of paradise, doves, cockatooes, deers and kuskus in the head water of Kamundan river in District of Senopi, wildlife photographers will  have plenty of objects to shoot while being in tropical nature of this Papua island.
Watching Birds of Paradise in District of Senopi
Senopi is located in Kebar valley, a great savannah between Manokwari city and Sorong city. Here in this district, you can enjoy natural hot spring water that is good to cure various kinds of skin diseases. Or if you are a bird lover, you  can hike through the tropical rainforest to see cockatoo, lory and crown pigeon, or birds of paradise perform courtship dance early in the morning or a few hours before sunset at quiet slopes to seduce their female birds. In the middle of nowhere, you can soak yourself in the fresh water of Kamundan river. You will frequently hear the sounds of deer like horns of big trucks in highway. At night, accompanied by a local Papuan guide, you will have the chance to see some kuskus with their bright red eyes coming out of their hiding places. Read my other article: Birding in Senopi to know more about it.
Learning Herbal Medicine from Kwau village in Arfak Mountains
Suppose that you are a nature lover, and you are interested in studying herbal medicine. If this is one of your dreams then Kwau village is a place that I'd like to recommend to you. I know someone there who is expert in curing many kinds of diseases using herbs that grow inside the tropical rainforest of Arfak Mountains. From the treatment of intestinal worms in children's stomach to the treatment of malaria tropica, Samuel Mandacan - a "herbsman" can teach you the local wisdom of the indigenous people on how they cure diseases and ailments. His knowledge of herbal medicine is an accumulation of hundreds of years of healing tradition which has been preserved and passed down inside his family as natural healers.
Why I promote this eco-tourism destination to you?
I have been promoting eco-tourism for Manokwari regency since last year. The number of foreign tourists coming to Manokwari and its surrounding districts is increasing steadily. I hope that more tourists will come so that we can provide alternative jobs to the indigenous people both in the islands near Manokwari city and in the Arfak and Tambrauw mountains. When these indigenous people get money from providing services and goods to tourists who come to their villages, they will be more appreciative to their environment. This will greatly prevent them from giving up their lands and forest to greedy loggers and palm oil plantation investors who have caused massive environmental destruction in Prafi valley.We know that tropical rainforest absorb great amount of CO2 gases which we emit everyday. Therefore, it is the responsibility of all of us around the world to help preserve this precious environment.
How to get to Manokwari?
Well, it is not difficult to come to this city. Manokwari is the capital of West Papua province. Just check a flight to Jakarta or Denpasar (two important cities) in the Republic of Indonesia. From those cities, you can book a flight to Manokwari. Several domestic airline companies such as Batavia Air, Merpati Airline , Express  Air and Lion Air provide direct flight service from Jakarta and Makassar city to Manokwari. If you plan to spend your holiday in a tropical island this Christmas, then Manokwari city should be in your list of consideration. When you arrive in this city, it is not only one island that you  will get see and enjoy but 5 tropical islands. You can even enjoy many more if you are willing to spend another week of your Christmas holiday in this West Papua province. by Charles Roring

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Snorkeling in Mansinam island

Snorkeling activities can be done in several islands in the Dorey bay, Bakarro beach, and along the northern coast of Manokwari regency. I went to Mansinam island with some Dutch tourists this morning. We enjoyed snorkeling there. Mansinam is a small tropical island. Along the beach, we could see coconut trees. Most of the island is still covered by tropical vegetation. It's amazing to see various species of fish that live among healthy coral reefs. Zebra fish and yellow tail blue fish were not afraid of me while I was taking pictures of them.

Yellow-tailed Blue Devil Fish in coral reef of Indonesia
Reef Fish in Mansinam Island

The beach of Mansinam island in Manokwari
The Beach of Mansinam Island
Eco-tourism and coral reef
Coral reef is not only important for eco-tourism but also for the environment. Coral reef absorbs CO2 gases which we emit everyday through our daily activities such as riding motorcycle or driving cars. During photosynthesis, the algae Zooxanthellae absorbs the CO2 and release oxygen. So the function of coral reef ecosystem is similar to the function of tropical rainforest. In fact, it is the tropical rainforest of the sea. It takes around fifty years for a coral to reach a size similar to an adult's head. The growth of coral reef  is very slow.  Coral reefs are tiny animals. They are very sensitive to extreme weather condition and disturbances on their surrounding environment. Therefore, we must protect it from destruction. Responsible eco-tourism is expected to help the local fishermen get additional income from the natural resources which they have so that they will not be tempted to use destructive method of fishing such as using bombs, poisoning, and  throwing of fishnets in the reef area.

snorkeling photo
Damsel fish in Mansinam Island
Problems on waste management in the waters of Manokwari bay
Although Manokwari bay is very beautiful with its coral reef and tropical islands, the city dwellers have not realize its potential. They still irresponsibly throw plastic bottles on the city streets which will finally end up at sea when the rain comes. It is important for all the citizens in Manokwari city to be more responsible in handling their domestic and industrial wastes so that the waters of the Dorey or Manokwari bay will not be polluted anymore. When the plastic wastes pollute the coral reef area, they will blockade the sunlight which is a very important component for the photosyntesis process to occur. The reef will slowly die. In popular term we call it coral bleaching. Bleached corals  look white and are dead corals. They cannot provide food to the fish. Then the number of fish will go down. It means the food stock in the area will automatically be affected. Fishermen have to go further away to the sea to catch fish. They will spend more fuel for that purpose. As a result the price of fish in the market will be higher than what we usually pay now.

blue sea star
Blue Sea Star

Coral reef aquarium industry
In addition to waste management, there is another thing which really attracts my concerns. The taking of corals from its habitat for making coral reef aquarium is absolutely a violation of law. Unfortunately the people who are responsible for the destruction of the reef have not been punished. The police and the government should enforce the law which is aimed at protecting and preserving the reef so that we can still have one of the most important marine ecosytems for current and future generations.      

Sea view of Manokwari
Sea view of Manokwari

Other places that are nice for snorkeling are the Raimuti island, the coastal area near the mountain range of Arfak and  Kaki island. If you are interested in visiting Manokwari as a tourist who wants to enjoy snorkeling and sightseeing, you can contact me, Charles Roring, via email: I will be happy to arrange your trip in this area.
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Saturday, October 2, 2010

Golden Rocks from Arfak Mountains

Yesterday, I wrote about Thunder Stones - Rocks from Outer Space. Still about the story of my journey in the rainforest of Kwau village in Arfak Mountains, now I am going to tell you about the golden rocks that I saw in a small stream near Hans Mandacan's home. After taking pictures and hearing Samuel Mandacan's explanation about the medicinal plants, we continued walking until we arrived at a small stream in the ravine where the water was very clear. I immediately took off my camera and my bag and put them in a dry place on a dry ground. After that, I washed my face to freshen my mind up from a very tiring Manokwari - Kwau trip. The cool water really refreshed me. Even though it was an unboiled water, I drank a few sips. I was not afraid of being attacked by abdominal pain.
When drinking the water, I saw glittering yellow glow reflected off from the rocks scattered around me. It immediately caught my attention. I went and picked up one stone. The stone was golden yellow. I did not know if it was indeed a sparkling gold or not.
I asked Samuel (chief of Kwau village) whether it is gold or not. Samuel did not know exactly. Wow, there are a lot of such stones along the creek.
Anyway, my tour in Kwau village (on 24 and 25 September 2010) was to assist the local communities in promoting eco-tourism and attracting tourists so that they would be able to generate income from the natural resources which they have without having to cut trees of the rainforest. If more tourists come to Kwau village in Arfak mountains, the villagers will not easily surrender their forest and trees to logging companies.
Therefore, I did not want to seek more information about the golden grained stones. I hope that people of Kwau village will be able to utilize their natural resources wisely without being tempted to destroy them.
After returning to the town of Manokwari on 25 September afternoon, I began to launch eco-tourism promotional campaign for this Kwau Village on the Internet. Several articles have been written. The focus of my attention is trying promote herbal medicine or alternative medicine which have been practiced by the Papuan villagers in attracting foreign tourists to the region. There are a lot of medicinal plants in the tropical forests of Arfak Mountains. Even the names of Samuel Mandacan and Yatinus Mandacan as Natural Healers are so famous in the Arfak mountains and Prafi valley as "herbs men" who can cure various kind of diseases, including severe ones such as malaria tropica and cancer. According to Hans Mandacan - my tour guide in Kwau village, general hospital in the city of Manokwari has requested Yatinus Mandacan to work there to help doctors heal patients using herbal medicine techniques. But he rejected the offer because he does not want to live far from where the herbs are.
Last night (October 1, 2010) Hans Mandacan visited me again in Manokwari. In our conversation, I asked him to add some explanations about the medicinal plants that I shot using my camera while hiking in the jungle village of Kwau. He added a lot of valuable information. With that information, I can write more articles about herbal medicine for my blog. However, because I am not a botanist, it is so difficult for me to identify the names of the plants in Latin or English. So, please, do not be dissappointed if I only use local names of the plants here.
When presenting the photos to Hans, the golden rocks photos appeared on my computer screen. Hans Mandacan said that there used to be someone who once worked in a gold mine  visiting his village. When he saw the stones in the creek, he said that there is a lot of gold in the rocks of the stream. OMG, how rich they are!
Well, if you're interested in visiting the village or Manokwari city as tourists or nature lovers, you can contact me via email: I will be happy to help arrange your trip to the region.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Thunder Stones - Rocks from Outer Space

During my last visit to Kwau village in the mountains Arfak of Manokwari regency, Hans Mandacan - the tour guide showed some stones to me. The stones were not much different from the granite rocks which are common in nature. But one thing that attracts my attention was the smooth surface of the stones. In addition, certain edges of the stones are rather sharp. I asked Hans, "have the stones been polished before?" He replied, "no."
The villagers call them, batu guntur meaning thunder stones or thunder rocks. According to them, these stones fell from the sky when there was heavy rain. Huge thunder was an indicator for the falling of the stones. A stone could be found at the place where a lightning hit the earth's surface. Hans said that when the stone hit a tree, it will split it. Furthermore, when the stone landed on the ground, it will create a hole or crater in which there are a number of plants located in the vicinity will die.
In my opinion, most likely these stones that came from outer space are meteors. Frankly, I am not an astronomer so, it's difficult for me to determine whether the rocks in front of me were from outer space or not. I've said on the above paragraph that the surfaces of the stones are smooth and the edges, rather sharp. Possibly they had experienced frictions with the air when traveling through the atmosphere. Therefore, it makes sense also if these thunder stones were really from the outer space.
Hans and samuel (the chief of Kwau village) said that when such stone hit the earth's surface, it will create a sound like a bomb. Personally I have never seen how a rock from space hit the Earth's surface, but the stone's remarkable speed could make it more like a bomb when it hits the ground.
If you are interested in visiting Kwau village to see the thunder stones,  or study herbal medicine, you can contact me, Charles Roring, via email: I will be happy to arrange your trip to the region.
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