Jayapura – The development of the “Isio Hill’s Bird Watching” ecotourism area located in the region of Rhepang Muaif, Nimbokrang District, Jayapura Regency, has now become strategic. The number of visitors both local and foreign has increased significantly from year to year. Development of ecotourism, especially in the field of infrastructure and capacity building of the operators, is the fundamental thing to be done. Seeing the potential and the need for ecotourism, seven State-Owned Enterprises comprising PT Telkom Indonesia, PT Garuda Indonesia, PT Bank BNI Tbk., PT Pembangunan Perumahan, PT Wijaya Karya, PT Bank Mandiri Tbk., and PT PLN have recently agreed to provide support for the ecotourism development.
The support covers the development of infrastructure, such as construction of watching towers, bridges, trails, lodgings, nature schools, and the development of telecommunication facilities. In respect of capacity building, ecotourism operators, who are indigenous people of Rhepang Muaif, will be provided with training in such fields as administrative and financial management, and community empowerment activities to support the development of creative economy, especially among women. In addition, there will also be educational programs for the children and the youth from the tribes in the region.
As a bird watching site, this area meets two essential criteria required to be an Important Bird Region. Firstly, it is home to a number of endangered bird species such as the Kasuari Gelambir Tunggal or Single-Wattled Cassowary (Casuarius unappendiculatus), Papuan Eagle (Harpyopsis novaeguineae), and Mambruk Victoria or Victoria Crowned Pigeon (Goura victoria), as well as the nearly threatened Cendrawasih Paruh Sabit Paruh Putih or Pale-billed Sicklebill (Epimachus bruijnii). Secondly, it is also inhabited by bird species that have a limited range, which means that the species become a special characteristic of the area/biome, making the area an Endemic Bird Region. An endemic bird species in this area is Nuriara Pipi-kuning or Salvadori’s Fig Parrot (Psittaculirostris salvadorii) that has a limited range in the lowland forests of northern Papua. Tourists visiting this place can watch four species of Cendrawasih birds directly at the Isio Hill’s site, namely Cendrawasih Raja or King Bird-of-Paradise (Cincinnurus regius), Cendrawasih Kuning-Kecil or Lesser Bird-of-Paradise (Paradisea minor), Cendrawasih Mati Kawat or Twelve-Wired Bird-of-Paradise (Celecoudis melanoleuca), and Cendrawasih Paru Sabit Paruh Putih or Pale-billed Sicklebill (Epimachus bruijnii).
In addition to providing assistance together with the Environmental Management Service of Jayapura Regency to encourage sustainable indigenous peoples-based ecotourism management activities, WWF-Indonesia Program Papua, Forestry Service of Papua Province, and holders or hak ulayat (indigenous rights) have set up 8 permanent boundary markers for the site proposed to be the indigenous forest management area of Yawadatum, in the Grime area of Jayapura Regency, Papua Province, covering an area of 19,000 ha for the management of bird watching ecotourism in Rhepang Muaif. These efforts, coupled with the support from the SOEs, are expected to encourage the management of ecotourism villages and the empowerment of indigenous communities in Rhepang Muaif so that it can be the first pilot tourism village within the indigenous forest area in Jayapura and in Papua.
Author: Ade Erawati Sangadji