As one of the provinces in Indonesia, Papua still consists of a lot of nature. When it comes to flora and fauna, the ecosystem in West Papua is very high on biodiversity. Ironically, a lot of them remain unknown and probably still undiscovered. These assets of nature can actually be part of the ecotourism in West Papua.
What comes to your mind when we talk about animals in West Papua? A bird of paradise or Cendrawasih is probably your first idea. The other one, although it has recently become popular again, is the existence of the singing dogs. Before you decide to go birdwatching or other activities related to ecotourism in this province, get to learn about some local animals there.
- The birds of paradise (Cendrawasih)
This species stands out among the fowls in West Papua, thanks to its stunning blue, red, green, yellow, and gold feather. With its unique beauty, no wonder this bird is also named “the bird of paradise”. Cendrawasih is their name given by the government of Indonesia.
The most popular types of birds of paradise are the red Cendrawasih and the blue Cendrawasih. The red one is known as Paradisaea rubra in Latin words, while the blue Cendrawasih is called Paradisaea rudolphi. This blue bird is 30 cm long, while the red one is 33 cm.
- The singing dogs
Although rarely seen, it would be wonderful if you could come across the singing dogs in West Papua. Many have thought these dogs to have been extinct. These singing dogs were discovered during an expedition in 2016. Back in 1970, there were about 200 singing dogs captured and bred in the conservation centres or zoos.
The singing dogs do not actually sing. In fact, they sound more like they are yodeling. Still, witnessing these cute wild creatures in the highlands, even in the distance, will be an interesting experience. Do not expect to be able to come close to them, though, since they are still wild creatures.
- Cassowary birds (Kasuari)
Cassowary birds are not only found in West Papua. They can also be seen in Papua New Guinea, part of Australia, and some parts of Maluku. Alongside the birds of paradise (Cendrawasih), Cassowary is also dubbed as the icon of this province.
You can find the main habitat of this bird in Salawati, while other places to find them include Sorong Klamono and East Waigeo. However, it is best to stay cautious with Cassowary. Not only huge, this bird is also considered dangerous.
The tallest Cassowary birds can reach as equal as 170 cm, which is the height of men on average. Because it is 58 kg heavy, Cassowary cannot fly. Watch out for their very strong legs, though. They can kick a person down, and they still have claws to defend themselves.
- Marsupials or cus-cus
Raja Ampat is not only famous for its water sports destination. Besides scuba diving, you can also check out the diverse flora and fauna. One of the cutest mammals in the area is known as cus-cus or marsupials.
It is easier to spot them at night because marsupials are nocturnal creatures. They can be found hanging on the coconut trees. They are small, almost like the size of regular house cats or dogs. Some are even smaller. From a distance, their appearance may remind you of a wombat in Australia. Some people may even think that these creatures look like tiny kangaroos.
- Green tree phytons
If you have no fears towards these reptiles, green tree phytons are also part of the ecotourism in West Papua. Besides there (like Salawati), green tree phytons can also be found in Aru Islands in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and Queensland in Australia.
This green phyton is relatively slim for a snake. The male can be as long as 180 cm, but the female snake can grow as long as 200 cm. With the Latin name M. viridis, this species stands out among other snakes. They also can blend in nature very well, thanks to their unique, green scales. It is much safer to watch them bred in conservation centers and zoos unless you are brave enough to go into the wild.
- Echidnas (spiny ant-eaters)
From a distance, this species looks like a crossover between a hedgehog and a bird. Echidnas, or spiny ant-eaters, are also part of the ecotourism in this province. They have long beaks, but their bodies are dark and spiny. Unfortunately, echidnas are now endangered.
You can still find some of the echidnas in Bird’s Head Peninsula and Foja Mountains. They are more into highlands and southside because they prefer living around alpine meadows and mild humidity of montane forests.
There are still plenty other unique, wild animals as part of the ecotourism in West Papua and also Papua. If you are the curious and courageous type, you can check them out next time you visit this province.
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