Birds have always played a significant role in the livelihoods and culture of the indigenous peoples of New Guinea, one of the last remaining areas of tropical rainforest wilderness. However, little is known about the hunting practices of these peoples, especially in the Indonesian province of Papua (formerly Irian Jaya), which occupies the western half of the island. The hunting regime in two districts within the Jayapura region of northern Papua was quantified through hunting surveys and interviews; local markets were monitored to assess the extent of wild meat trade; and meal surveys determined the level of wild meat consumption. In view of reports of a thriving live bird trade in Papua, interviews were conducted with bird trappers and keepers. Seven species of birds were hunted for meat; but the Northern Cassowary Casuarius unappendiculatus accounted for 48 per cent of the estimated annual off-take, followed by the Victoria Crowned-pigeon Goura victoria (14 per cent) and two megapode species (33 per cent). Both the cassowary and crowned-pigeon are restricted to the northern lowlands of New Guinea and are categorized by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) as Vulnerable to extinction. Few indigenous hunters were involved in the live bird trade compared with transmigrant bird trappers. Over half of the individuals trapped belonged to 11 species nominally protected by Indonesian law, with �zero� quotas, including Salvadori�s Fig-parrot Psittaculirostris salvadorii, which is listed by the IUCN as a Vulnerable species. For a further six species, mostly parrots, estimated annual harvest rates far exceeded annual national quotas. The study suggests that hunting in this region has shifted from a purely subsistence form towards a more commercial form and, thus, the maintenance of populations of threatened species will require sensitive management by local communities, combined with effective education and monitoring programmes. The largely illegal live bird trade and logging pose far more serious problems than hunting to the conservation of Papua�s avian diversity, a problem that can only be addressed by effective law enforcement. � Dr Sonia Tidemann and Dr Andrew G. Gosler 2010.
|Title of host publication
|Ethno-ornithology. Global Studies in Indigenous Ornithology
|Subtitle of host publication
|Culture, Society and Conservation
|Place of Publication
|Number of pages
|Published - 2010