5-Meter Giant ‘Ant Hill’ in Wasur National Park, Papua

West Papua
Source : Sarah Beekmans

Papua and West Papua own magnificent and breathtaking national parks. One of them is Wasur National Park. In this national park, there are an estimated 80 kinds of mammals, 403 bird species, more than 70 fish species, 21 kinds of reptiles, and many more. Among many kinds of the fauna variety, there is one that has become a tourist magnet – five meters giant ‘ant hill’. Let’s learn more.

West Papua
Source : Pixoto


Wasur National Park is located in the Merauke district and with an area of more than 400,000 hectares. This national park has many West Papua’s endemic floras and faunas collections. Wasur National Park can be reached less than 15 minutes from downtown Merauke.

One of the main attractions of this reserve park is the giant ‘ant house’. This ‘ant hill’ can reach five meters in height and more than two meters in diameter. The people in Merauke call this ant house musamus. 

However, musamus is not actually ant hill. Though it may seem weird, musamus is a nest of a termite-like animal called Macrotermes sp. These termites are not the kinds that like to destroy or nuisance insects. 

Macrotermes sp. is independent animals and prefers to build their own nest instead of attaching to human objects. This type of termite normally doesn’t like to live near human residences. 


Musamus Building Structure

The shape of musamus is a huge mound made of dry grass, soil, and the termites’ saliva. The nest’s spike is towering above the ground, looking like a stalagmite. The surface has indentations with a reddish-brown color. The color itself is looking exactly like the soil that musamus stands. Inside the ‘ant hill’, live millions of termites that live.

Even though musamus was built by tiny creatures, it is very sturdy. Musamus even can withstand the stampede of large animals or humans, as well as fallen trees. What is it like inside the giant ant hill musamus? 

Inside this termite nest, there are alleys as the place for the small creatures to pass by. The alleyways also serve as ventilation to maintain temperature stability. That is the way the termites inside the musamus are protected from temperature changes or even forest fires.

Musamus can also be found in Australia. However, it seems that in Indonesia, you can only find musamus in Merauke. In Merauke, there is a savanna that has hundreds of musamus, both active and abandoned by the termites. 


Wasur National Park

After learning about the giant ‘ant hill’, let’s get to know closer to Wasur National Park. This national park has a total area of ​​about 413,810 hectares which is home to various types of floras and faunas. Besides the biodiversity ecotourism spot, Wasur also serves as a research area, tracking activities, and camping zone.

Wasur National Park is spread from Merauke Regencies, including Sota, Jagebob, Merauke, and Naukenjarai sub-districts. This park is inhabited by four tribes that are Marind Tribe, Kanume Tribe, Marori Tribe, and Yeinan Tribe. For storing numerous biodiversity, this national park is called the “Serengeti Papua”.

Serengeti is the name of a national park in Africa with vast open land. This National Park covers an area of ​​30,000 square kilometers and stretches from northern Tanzania to southeastern Kenya. The area exceeds the Lorentz National Park in Papua, the largest national park in Indonesia, reaching 25,050 square kilometers.

In Papua and West Papua itself, there are two other National Parks namely Cendrawasih Bay National Park and the Lorentz National Park which is included on the prestigious list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. 

So, are interested in visiting Wamur National Park in West Papua and taking a selfie picture with the enormous ‘ant hill’?