Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Journey to the East Coast

by Fahrul P. Amama

The journey began with a short visit to Arui das, a coastal village in eastern Yamdena. We visited Arui Das at the end of June to meet some parrot trappers and have discussion with them about parrot trapping and trade activities. With their help, we have been able to investigate the Blue-streaked Lory and Tanimbar Corella trade. This approach has proven to yield the greatest amount of information as trappers have the detailed knowledge of their target species and are very familiar with the bird trade business. This information will be communicated to KSDA (the Natural Resources Conservation Agency of the Indonesia Department of Forestry, who have responsibility for law enforcement) and will be as the basis for the future joint activities with KSDA on trapping and trade.

Field Trip to Arui Das
The east wind was still strong in June, and the eastern sea was not friendly at all, so we went to the nearest village by minibus. After 3 hours bumpy excursion on a road that reminded me of the “Camel Trophy” off road competition, we reached the end of suitable road in Sangilat Krewain village and had to continue the trip on foot, walking through white sandy beach about 4 km to Arui Bab Village. We used small boat to cross the river and the coastal reef from Arui Bab village to Arui Das. We stayed 3 nights at Arui Das and spent 2 nights in the forest with some villagers.
On the second day, we were directed to the farm nearby the forest and found some roost sites of Tanimbar Corella. We also saw Eclectus parrots sharing the habitat with Tanimbar Corella. Although the site is about 7 km inland from the village, it is still a few hundred meters outside the forest edge. Only a few pairs of Lories were seen passing through the area during that afternoon and the following morning. Although this lack of birds could be due to seasonal movements, it seems more likely that the findings reflect the general decline in the species in Yamdena, which has been exploited since 1986.

According to a parrot trapper from Arui Das, there are as many as 25 parrot trappers still active in 15 villages in eastern Yamdena. They trap parrots only if they get orders from Saumlaki. He said that the parrot trade started to be common around 1986, and had a booming year in 1992 when trader from Bugis (Sulawesi) came to some villages and bought the birds. If there is a market for them, each trapper can get 100-200 birds in a trapping season each year, and some trappers get as many as 300 or more birds. However the trapper also said that the price for birds is now so low that many people do not bother with trapping, and he was convinced that if there was any enforcement of the law (a risk of penalties for trappers), it would not be worth it for anyone.
The trapper also claimed that trappers were supposed to ask for licenses from KSDA, but that some trappers ignore that and become illegal trappers. The trapper’s explanation illustrates the confusion about implementation of the law on Tanimbar: in fact, all trapping is illegal and KSDA does not have the authority to issue a trapping permit for these species, which are protected.
In the past some reports concluded that the main reason for trapping the Cockatoos and some other parrot species is to reduce crop damage, and that the income is only a side- benefit.. Based on our observation and discussions, this is not now true. People trap the parrots for economic reason (to earn extra cash income), not because the birds are pests for the crops. If there is no buyer they do not trap them.

Foto: Fahrul Amama, Hans Bashari (Burung Indonesia)

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