West Papua is one of the provinces that make up the majority of animal diversity in Indonesia. Despite that, some endemic fauna in the province is on the brink of extinction to the extent people might have never heard of them. To know these species, below are the endangered animals from the Land of Papua that must be protected.
Bondol Arfak (Grey-Banded Mannikin Bird)
Also popularly known as Bondol Arfak, this tiny seed-eating bird is known to be discovered in the Arfak Mountains and Vogelkop Peninsula, which is located in the western part of the province. They generally inhabit marshlands or wet grasslands in the mid-mountain area.
According to LIPI (Indonesian Institute of Science), the status of this chirping bird is Vulnerable (VU) as of 2019. This means there are indications they will be extinct in the wild. Even its global population is no more than ten thousand species. International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) estimates that only 2,500 to 9,900 species are left in West Papua today.
Physically, Bondol Arfak has a body length of approximately 10 cm. The majority of its upper body part is in white and grey. Meanwhile, cinnamon and blackish-brown dominate the abdomen to the tail.
Irian Echidna (Western Long-Beaked Echidna)
Irian Echidna is one of the endemic animals in West Papua that is threatened with extinction. It has a spiky body like a porcupine or hedgehog. However, the peculiarity of this animal lies in its breeding method. While it’s categorized as a mammal, this Zaglossus species also lay eggs.
This long-beaked animal is also known as a giant echidna. It can weigh up to around 16.5 kg, with indistinguishable spines and a long snout that curves downward. They discovered in Foja Mountains and the Bird’s Head Peninsula at elevations ranging from 1,300 to 4,000 meters above sea level.
The species is classified by the IUCN as Critically Endangered animals due to the decreased number as a result of human activities, such as hunting. While the echidna is regarded as a delicacy and West Papuan authority has outlawed commercial hunting, traditional hunting is unfortunately still permitted.
This mammal has a distinctive body-color compared to other cuscus species. While it’s covered in white fur, its surface is full of black dots with random patterns. The physical characteristic of this marsupial can also be identified by its eyes which have red pupils with a vertical slit.
In the wild, Waigeou Cuscus is actually categorized as a shy animal. They barely make an appearance and even tend to avoid problems if they feel threatened. Its natural habitat is in regions with an altitude of 1,200 m above sea level. As the name implies, they mainly inhabit Waigeou Island. Still, they can also be found in the northern part of West Papua, such as Raja Ampat.
Although it can still be found with ease and there is no total population count, the number of this species is reported has decreased. Even the IUCN classifies the status of this fauna conservation as Vulnerable, meaning it’s considered to be in grave danger of extinction in the natural environment.
Leatherback Sea Turtle
This leathery-skinned turtle is known for being the heaviest and most giant non-crocodilian reptile with reaching weights of up to 600 kg and lengths of around 2 meters. Unlike other sea turtles, it has no bony shell, making it easier to distinguish it from others. As the name indicates, its body is covered in oily skin with leather-like skin that is relatively flexible.
The Leatherback Sea Turtle is a species with a worldwide distribution where the three genetically different populations are in the eastern Pacific, western Pacific Oceans, and the Atlantic. One of the Pacific population inhabits the beaches in West Papua, Indonesia.
However, World Wildlife estimates only 2,300 adult Pacific leatherback female turtles remain, making it one of the most endangered sea turtles. Even the global status of this reptile is categorized as Vulnerable and Pacific subpopulations as Critically Endangered by the IUCN.
Named after the British monarch Queen Victoria, this bird is a ginormous grey pigeon with red irises, a crimson breast, and lace-like crests in vibrant blue. It belongs to the Goura genus, which includes the other four giant pigeons native to the Land of Papua. Aside from its physical features, its powerful whooping calls make it easy to identify.
The bird is found in swamp forests or in the lowland of Papua and its surrounding islands. It’s mostly common in locations that were once sago forests. While they are usually discovered at sea level, they occasionally fly up to the hills.
Victoria Crowned-pigeon is now evaluated by the IUCN as Near Threatened species due to their decreasing number due to logging and hunting. The majority of hunting is done for the meat and plumes. While trapping pigeons for captive collections has been regarded as illegal conduct, it’s still likely to occur.
Observers, researchers, and experts in fauna conservation have done their best to keep the endangered species of West Papua in existence. However, the population of these animals will increasingly be alarming should the authority keep carrying out massive development without considering the nearly-extinct animals’ habitats.