by Fahrul P. Amama
Daily he works as a labourer in Saumlaki harbour. He receives birds from village trappers and sells them to cargo ships that sail to Surabaya (East Java). He claimed that to avoid trouble from government officials many traders pay about 300000 IDR (35 US$) to KSDA for a licence to transport the birds. It seems that they are exploiting an exception in the law on trading protected species, which allows a licence to transport one or two individuals of a protectedAfter the trip to Arui Das we met a parrot trader in Olilit lama, a small village near Saumlaki, the capital of Tanimbar. According to him, parrot trading is a side job for him in the trapping season, from March to June. species which have been given as a gift, not for buying and selling. The trader also claimed that they pay a ‘tax’ of about 2500 IDR (0.25 US$) to local government for each bird they sell. The traders story has not been proved, but if it is true it is an example of the conflicts that can occur in the implementation of law – at national level one branch of the Government (KSDA) sets a zero quota for a protected species, whilst at local level another branch of Government is only concerned with getting tax on trade, without worrying whether the trade is legal or not!
Even more interesting was the traders comments confirming what the trappers said about the current trends in the market for these birds. He said that the price is now so low that he breaks even if only he sells fifty parrots a year, and only makes a worthwhile profit if he can sell at least a hundred parrots each year. He claimed that he is still indebted to some trappers, because the birds he received from them died before he could sell them, and so he does not have the cash to pay them.
The next field trip, in July and August, was visiting some villages in Wermaktian Sub-district on the western side of Yamdena. We visited 3 villages in this region (Makatian, Wermatang and Batu Putih) and made a short visit to 5 villages in Seira Island, a nearby island close to Batu Putih to get some information about local knowledge of natural resources management. We spent 4 nights in each village.
In Makatian village, we went to the forest near the Makatian River and observed the forest condition there. We also saw flocks of Blue streaked Lories flying pass the village. These flocks of Lories containing a hundred or more individuals come across the sea to Yamdena Island every morning from nearby small islands. In the evening, as the sun sets on the horizon these birds fly back from the main island to its satellites. The view reminded us of what S.J. Hickson, a naturalist from Europe, wrote about his visit to the Talaud Islands (North Sulawesi) in the 19th century, where he saw a similar spectacle of huge numbers of the endemic Red-and-blue Lories. These days the Lories on Talaud have been drastically reduced, and it was a pleasure to see this that this beautiful sight can still be found on Tanimbar.
The next day, we made a short visit to Seira, a small island off-shore from Makatian village. We visited 5 villages in this island and met with the head of Wermaktian sub-district and the village heads. From there, we crossed the straits on a small boat through the strong current and high waves to Wermatang village. At Wermatang village, we saw groups of villagers logging the forest along the river side. Each group can log 10 m3 of wood per week and sells it in Saumlaki. We spent 3 nights in this village and had a meeting with village leaders. On the next day, we visited Batu Putih, spent one night, and then went back to Makatian Village. The main objective of these meetings was to fill questionnaires and carry out group discussions, to enable us to understand the local people’s perceptions and ideas about conservation, forests and Parrots on Tanimbar. One of the points that emerged very clearly is that there is widespread ignorance amongst communities of the zero quotas set by the government for parrot trade, and no idea that their endemic Parrots are protected from international trade through listing in CITES appendix 1. In mid August we sailed back to Saumlaki.
foto: Fahrul Amama (Burung Indonesia)