- Teluk Mayalibit Conservation Report
This Report was compiled with emphasis on conservation at the village level, following the ECOCULTURE movement without any affiliation to NGO or government organisations. It is being made public at a time when the world community is becoming aware of the devastating effects of forest exploitation in West Papua. And a counter-movement is in formation– at last.
21 January – 4 February, 2002, villages Lopintol, Warimak, Kalitoko, Beouw,
9 March – 14 March, 2002, villages Lopintol, Kalitoko, Warimak.
The traditional landowners of the marga (=clan) Dam in desa (=village community) Lopintol control vast areas of forested land, from the coast up to 3 km inland, from the new Raya Ampat Regency’s headquarters at Waisai to the bay of Wailukum on the western side of Mayalibit Bay. Equally, the marga Kassian of desa Lopintol owns large sections of forested land on the eastern side of the Bay from its entrance to the boundary with desa Kalitoko at the point were the swampy lowland forest of that village begins.
Note: No distinction is made at this stage between the terms suku=tribe and
marga=clan. Actually, there is quite some confusion about such terminology even
amongst local people.
The Nok tribe of Warimak owns very large areas of land covered by forest, including the most significant landmark of Waigeo, Gunung Nok (=Mt. Buffelhorn, elevation 733 m – according to other sources 848 m or 980 m) and its wider surroundings.
The highest elevation of Waigeo, according to a botanical survey report of 1959, is Mt. Samlor (about 1000 m).
The land of Kalitoko village ( incl. Selegof ) covers the area between the Nok and the Kassian territories. As on the western side of the Bay, marga Dam is mentioned as a land owner there ( this Christian section of the clan: Dam Lil is distinguished from the Muslim section of the clan, Dam Lul at Lopintol). The clans of Siam and Lapon own the land further inland, behind Kalitoko village, up to 7 km inland.
The land beyond, in the interior, is owned by suku Gi, the lost tribe of Waigeo (“orang hilang”). There are three separate sections of the Gi tribe on Waigeo: Met (=people) Gi in the region of Wawiai, Met Nyoo from Kapadiri to Kabare and Met Sam east of Kalitoko, according to Bapak Mikha Siam of Kalitoko village.
There is no clear conception, however, about this land ownership of the orang hilang. According to oral tradition, all the people of Waigeo once lived in the forest, in the cave of Abiab Tamolo in the hinterland of Warimak village. They are considered as the original Gi tribe. And the name of Waigeo ( local name we’gi; “we” stands for “water”) reflects that tradition. Then the orang Gi split and one section moved to the coast. The other population of orang Gi remained in the forest and became the partly still real, partly mysterious orang hilang, the Lost Tribe of Waigeo.
The head of the Lembaga Masirakat Adat ( LMA) Kalana Fat, Bapak Taher Arfan, the Raja of Salawati and highest traditional authority for all the Raja Ampat Archipelago confirmed in a meeting at his residence on Doom Island on 12 February, 2002 that indeed the Gi tribe is the landowner of all the interior of Waigeo! I have this statement recorded on tape. This ruling by the highest traditional authority of Raja Ampat certainly has a very significant bearing in prohibiting any logging on the vast territory of the Lost Tribe.
The extensive forests from Teluk Lukum on the western side of the Bay to the north-western end of the Bay is owned by marga Dailon (mostly of Lopintol village) and marga Wailata (mostly of Beouw village on the island with same name in the northern part of the Bay). There are additional landowners, but only further investigations can clarify this puzzle.
At present, there are 9 villages (=desa2) along the shores of Mayalibit Bay. These are divided into two main tribal ( =language) groups, the Christian Ambel Orem (AO) and the Muslim Laganyan (L). They are, beginning at the western side of the entrance to the Bay: Warsambim (AO), Lopintol (L), Arwai (L), Beouw (L), Kabilol (AO), Go (AO), Waifoi (AO), Warimak (AO) and Kalitoko (AO). On a map in the botanical survey report of 1959 (see below), a inland village Wekasan is shown at the upper course of the Siam River, behind the mountain range that is visible from the Bay.
The name Mayalibit (-“libit” means “bay”) is derived from the Ma’ya people that immigrated, according to Bapak Idris Dailon, from Halmahera and Ternate. According to other sources the Ma’ya language group overlaps with the term Laganyan or even is identical with the orang Gi. The inhabitants of Beouw village, for instance, are considered as Ma’ya as well as Laganyan. On a map of Austronesian languages in the Internet (http:// euslchan.tripod.com/westirianmap.htm) a regional distinction is made between the Ma’ya and the Langanyan language groups on Waigeo. The Ma’ya language group inhabits – according to Drs. Albert C.L. Remijsen - the islands of Waigeo (Laganyan), Misool and Salawati .
The history of the Rajas at Kali Raja in Kabui Bay of southern Waigeo is another subject of still continuing studies.
A further ethnic group arrived at Waigeo from Biak island in several immigration waves. The new arrivals from Biak hold no traditional land tenure rights, but certain earlier immigrants (marga Rumbiak at Kalitoko , for instance) are considered as rightful landowners.
The best ethnic field studies were made by the late Drs. Alex C. van der Leeden and more recently (languages and history) by Drs. A. C. L. Remijsen of Leiden University (now University of Edinburgh). A botanical survey with some notes on villages was published by P. van Royen in Nova Guinea, Vol. 10, 1959.
It is an important, but time-consuming task to study further the human history of Waigeo. Some old men in the villages still remember the ancient traditions.
Unfortunately, there is (=status of affairs as at the time of first drafting this report in 2002) a clash constellation between the overall traditional institution of Raja Ampat, L.M.A. Kalana Fat headed by the Raja of Salawati, Bapak Taher Arfan and supported by Bapak Hengky Gaman (of village Waifoi in Teluk Mayalibit) on the one hand side and L.M.A. Ambel Orem of Teluk Mayalibit, headed by Bapak Mikha Siam of Kalitoko village.
The natural resources:
Most the area around the Bay consists of limestone ridges with steep slopes and pinnacles. Only north of the Nok territory, ultarbasic rock formations (with nickel deposits) dominate the landscape. In the Kalitoko territory, flat alluvial land extends from the limestone ridge into the Bay along Kali Siam and other streams.
At the mouth of Kali Worowiai (=Orobiai ) in the eastern entrance section of the Bay large gravel deposits attracted a Sorong firm in 1999. We were able to stop this destructive development through the Department of Mining at Sorong.
Selected logging took place in earlier years ( under Dutch rule already) at a few locations mainly in the entrance section of the Bay. Ironwood (kayu besi, Intsia bijuga) was extracted by the Dutch forestry service of Sorong from Gam island, southern Waigeo and from other locations. The “extensive stands” of Agathis labillardieri in the region of Wailukum and other parts on the western shores of the Bay (mentioned by P. van Royen in 1959) seem to have largely disappeared. I did not notice any larger stands of this valuable tree.
In the north-western section of the Bay, the logging company P.T. I.B.S. operated in the years of 1988/1989 at Kali Senu. Another logging operation, by P.T. Sinar Abadi affected the coastal area north of Selegof on the eastern side of the Bay in 1987.
The western side of the Bay is included in the Strict Nature Reserve (Cagar Alam) Waigeo Barat, except for the entrance section, some land behind Lopintol village and at the north-western corner of the Bay. My proposal of 1978 (in “Conservation in Irian Jaya”, survey report prepared for PHPA/WWF/FAO) to include ALL the land surrounding the Bay was not adopted and now the eastern side is partly without official protection status.
A second strict nature reserve, Cagar Alam Waigeo Timur was established more recently, but not all the boundaries are defined yet. The lowland forests of Warimak and of Kalitoko on the eastern side of the Bay are excluded from this reserve ( at Warimak from the coast line up to 3 km inland) – a very unfortunate planning decision ( see below).
The existence of the strict nature reserve on western Waigeo did not hinder the Bupati of Sorong and the Camat of Waigeo Selatan to issue IHPHH logging permits for forest within the boundaries of the “protected” area of Cagar Alam Waigeo Barat, to the Dam clan for locations between the headquarters of Kecematan Waigeo Selatan (=status of 2002) at Waisai and Teluk Lukum at the western shore of the Bay. In the area between Waisai and the entrance to the Bay, the boundary of the reserve runs approx. 3 km inland from the coast; the logging extended beyond. Another IHPHH permit for logging within the strict nature reserve was given to the Dailon clan for the location Goumniai north of Teluk Lukum. Another logging concession ( for 10.000 ha) under the KOPERMAS scheme to desa Lopintol. There is evidence that at least some of these permits were granted with the active support by the conservation authority KSDA at Sorong. I have statements on tape given by Kepala Adat Bapak Sagir Kassian of Lopintol which clearly indicate the involement of KSDA staff Bapak Haryanto and Bapak Junus of the Sorong KSDA authority. This clear violation of Indonesian State Law was also endorsed by L.M.A. Kalana Fat.
The conservation department KSDA in the year 2000 already published a study report about the illegal invasion of logging into Cagar Alam Waigeo Barat - as if its duty was limited to fact finding missions only. The active support of logging on protected land by certain KSDA staff members remained a secret. Of the total 153.000 ha of the reserve, according to this report, three areas within the boundaries of the reserve, comprising a total area of 21.463 ha were affected by logging. NO follow up actions were taken and the forest destruction was allowed to continue up to the present day (=status of 2002)! Neither was the active support of this illegal logging operation by certain staff members of KSDA brought to official attention. This scandalous negligence of clearly defined duties of KSDA as a government institution - as well as the role of certain KSDA staff and the role of the Camat of Southern Waigeo (prior to the establishment of Raja Ampat Regency) in the ongoing destruction of Cagar Alam Waigeo Barat, requires an investigation by PKA in Jakarta! But there is silence from that side as well…
Currently (=status of 2002), there are 5 sites of logging ( log ponds ) along the coast between Waisai (P.T.Serulin Emas) and the entrance to the Bay, one logging operation at the entrance to the Bay by C.V. Sinar Mas south of Warsambim village and some smaller logging activities inland from Lopintol village. Only another ground survey can establish the extension of this forest exploitation into the strict nature reserve.
The worst destruction within the Bay is being caused at the village of Warimak on the eastern shore, on land that is excluded from the new Cagar Alam Waigeo Timor. At Warimak the Sorong (Ambon) P.T. Planet 2000 (what a symbolic name !) operates (=status of 2002) with several bulldozers mixed logging in a concession plot of 100 hectares ( and beyond !!!). Very near to the mountain wilderness of Gunung Nok in this most sensitive section of the Bay, with an outstanding potential for nature tourism! And habitat to the recently rediscovered endemic Waigeo brush turkey, Aepypodius bruijni. Why this forest is not included into the new nature reserve Cagar Alam Waigeo Timor, only the planners of KSDA might be able to “explain”. But certainly not with any available sound reasons.
The boundaries of this reserve also further south run far behind the coastline of the Bay. Isn’t it exactly that extension right to the shores of the Bay that would make this reserve worthwile! All the ecologically very valuable swamp forest of Kalitoko is excluded as well. A revision of the boundaries of the reserve is urgently needed and ALL the land on the eastern side of the Bay should be included!
The Nok tribe, represented by chief Bapak Halek Dawa, now (=status of 2002) opposes the logging impact of P.T. Planet 2000, but it is too late to prevent the massive destruction of a large section of forest near the village. The “benefit” for the village community is appalling, and this government-supported logging operation is one of the many recent examples of ruthless exploitation of traditional village forest resources under the unfortunate, largely misused IHPHH/kopermas forestry scheme. So far 4 “loadings” were taken from the 3 log ponds. The village community received from P.T. Planet 2000- according to local informants - the sum of 40 million rps in cash, one generator (worth 12 mio rps), one chain saw (worth 3.5 mio rps), 500 bags of cement (worth 13 mio rps) and 500 sheets of corrugated iron ( worth 8.2 mio rps). Total: 76.7 mio rps, that is the equivalent of approx. US$ 7.700,-- !
This mixed logging operation continues despite the fact that at the log ponds large numbers of valuable logs are left unattended for 5 months already (=status of 2002)! Fungus and mushrooms grow on the slowly decaying logs. The bare land behind the village looks like a moonscape (“planet 2000”!) and heavy erosion carries the unprotected soil into the shallow bay.
It should be pointed out that the Bay of Mayalibit is silting up gradually and ANY logging at the shores will largely increase this fatal process. The very rich fisheries resources of the Bay will be very seriously affected. In the northern section of the Bay, already now the muddy bottom is mostly less than 10 meters below the surface.
Illegal animal trade:
The first impression of the new Camat headquarters at Waisai (=status of 2002) were the screams of captured palm cockatoos (an endangered and legally protected species). Five young birds were sitting on the floor of a room without daylight, in a house just opposite the camat’s office. Either Bapak Camat is deaf or he turns a blind eye to this ongoing illegal bird trade. The palm cockatoos are regularly sold to crews of timber ships and of the ferryboat that operates between Saonek and Sorong, for 300.000 rps each. Any control by the official conservation department KSDA is simply non-existent!
Sorong remains a haven for the illegal animal trade! And officers of KSDA have been seen repeatedly chatting in front of a building that is over-crowded with birds kept under scandalous hygienic conditions. Amongst the species imprisoned there are birds of paradise, crown pigeons, white and palm cockatoos, other protected parrots and protected reptiles (Chondropython, Varanus spec.). The birds and reptiles are mostly shipped to Jakarta, if they did not already die in this prison compound. I have reported, at several occasions, this illegal trade to WWF in writing, with accompanying photographs taken by Konrad Wothe, as early as 1995!
Red Birds of Paradise (endemic to Waigeo and Batanta) are captured by villagers all along the shores of the Bay. They are either taken to Sorong or sold to boat crews. In a hamlet on the western side of the Bay ( Strict Nature Reserve) we counted eight White Cockatoos in a narrow wooden box. They are sold for 100.000 rps each. And in Lopintol village we discovered two crown pigeons and twelve Black-capped Loris, all captured in the Strict Nature Reserve and ready for shipment. Unfortunately, most of these birds had their wings clipped, so we could not release them to the wild. But quite a few lucky ones were given back their freedom!
For years there are talks about building a road between Waisai and Lopintol village. Fortunately, this project is very costly and therefore has been postponed.
There is no reasonable need for any road leading to Lopintol. Much more beneficial for the ENTIRE population of Mayalibit Bay would be the operation of a speedy and comfortable boat that links Sorong – Waisai – Saonek with ALL the villages in the Bay (and the villages on the southern coast of Waigeo). The costs for purchase and running this regular transportation would be much more economic AND beneficial for the village people.
The projected road would cut through the strictly protected reserve Cagar Alam Waigeo Barat.
Uncontrolled logging, other forest destruction, illegal hunting and capture of wildlife are the usual consequences of such penetration of otherwise inaccessible wilderness areas. The Camat of Southern Waigeo even put forward a proposal (=status of 2002) to allow logging on both sides of this road up to 1 km inland. It appears that the Camat tends to favour developments that support further environmental deterioration and ruin of the natural livelihood of the people under his rule. Of all available land use alternatives, commercial logging - as it is practised now - presents the worst economic and environmentally most destructive method!
The region consists of extremely rugged limestone country and the road construction costs stand in no sound relation to any possible advantages of this ill fated proposal. It should be abandoned altogether and a regular public marine transportation system set up instead!
Nature tourism potential:
Waigeo does not exist yet on the world map as a magnificent wilderness resort and nature tourism destination. Before given a chance of recognition, protection and compatible development, this magnificent island is being sacrificed by incompetent and irresponsible people at all levels from village to government, for a bargain that does not leave any assets at any side – except for what is being robbed by outsiders and taken away. This ongoing tragedy can easily be identified on the spot. But who actually does travel to Waigeo other than timber merchants, mining surveyors or animal traders ? The tourist guest book of Beouw village on the island of same name in the Bay lists just a few pages for all the years since the late 1980ies.
Waigeo remains unknown and its wilderness was only kept intact until very recently because of its remoteness and largely inaccessible mountainous terrain. But now it is exposed to a rapidly growing wave of destructive economic developments at all accessible spots along the coast- without any signs of respect or actual protection measures by any party.
This alarming situation stands in harsh contrast to the magnificent scenery of the Bay and the surrounding wild mountain landscape. What is needed urgently is international recognition and promotion, a carefully designed eco-tourism infrastructure – and nobody would dare to further deplete these unique assets that cannot be measured by money value.
Lopintol, Beow, Warimak and several locations distant from villages offer excellent conditions for setting up local style guest houses. The Bay offers a stunning array of touristic attractions: Cruises along the shores with their limestone cliffs and caves, the numerous bizarre rocky islands and towering mountain walls with their crest of peaks. Forest trekking inland from Warimak to the rock shelter of Abiab Kakit at the stream of Nok We Lal Kali (=Kali Warimak). Or following Kali Siam upstream to the dramatic limestone cliffs inland. Or climbing the highest peak Gunung Nok with its characteristic buffalo horn. The ever changing scenery of the rainforest along the shores. The strong currents in and out of the Bay with the tides. Mangrove formations at the mouth of small streams: water dragons (Hydrosaurus) resting on their branches. Along the rocky shores some areas of soft and hard coral with many colourful fishes. Hornbills, parrots and other exotic birds crossing the Bay. The display of Red Birds of Paradise and of Wilson’s Bird of Paradise in the early morning hours. Crown pigeons , endemic bird-wing butterflies (Ornithoptera) and orchids. The dramatic cloud formations and torrential rains. Waigeo still is an ever changing natural wonderland!
But what fascinates most is the totally unexplored wilderness beyond, behind the mountain walls: the river valleys and ridges that can be seen in the far distance, covered in clouds. There, in the depth of the jungle is the home range of the orang Gi, the Lost Tribe ! These forest people are a historic reality – regardless if they still exist or not.
Waigeo remains a mysterious and colourful world on its own. If we take action now, this vast island wilderness still can be saved! The scars inflicted so far will eventually heal.
Close cooperation with the traditional landowners:
Since that report was compiled the Indonesian governmnet has established the new Regency of Raja Ampat with headquarters on Waigeo. Industries should focus on fisheries, organic cultivation of crops like vanille and a great variety of vegetables and fruit. Better marketing and transportation are essential elements. Commercial logging has to be totally banned. Tourism can become a major economic factor. But it should be designed as strict eco-tourism with maximum participation and share of the local population. All guest houses should be owned by the village communities.
Compensation for timber rights is an essential first measure in order to stop further forest destruction, inside and outside of the official conservation areas. For that purpose an official map covering the entire island should be drawn up that marks all the traditional land ownership boundaries and rights held by tribes and clans. Including the orang Gi!
Direct partners in all conservation and small scale compatible village programmes should be the traditional chiefs ( kepala adat), the Lembaga Masirakat Adat (L.M.A.) and the village cooperatives (Kopermas).
Training and other educational efforts in the communities should be considered as a very important additional task.
Key representatives of the communities of Teluk Mayalibit in the initial discussions about compensation for logging rights, conservation and compatible small scale developments are Kepala Adat Bapak Sagir Kassian at Lopintol, Kepala Desa Bapak Yohanis Sarwa at Kalitoko, Kepala Suku Bapak Halek Dawa of Warimak and Kepala Adat Bapak Mansiaf Wailata at Beouw.
Bapak Hengky Gaman of Waifoi village ( now Sorong) is a foundation member of Eco Papua Alliance at Sorong and a member of L.M.A. Kalana Fat.
The chairman of L.M.A. Ambel Orem is Bapak Mikha Siam of Kalitoko ( now Sorong). Lembaga Masirakat Adat stands for Assembly of the Traditional People. Bapak Mikha has offered close collaboration to Eco Papua Alliance.
The problem for L.M.A. Ambel Orem is a total lack of financial support. This important institution has no office, no facilities and no money for travels. Already established by the government in May, 2001, so far I was not able to start any activities in the villages of the Bay (status in 2002). I strongly suggest direct support to L.M.A Ambel Orem as a matter of great significance for any future conservation/sound developments in the region of the Bay. The first programme of this institution is aimed at fisheries and better marketing.
We propose the establishment of Yayasan (=Foundation) Suku Gi as the caretaker of all affairs on behalf of this forest tribe, including their integrity and landownership.
The name Waigeo stands for “The Water and the Land of the Gi people”! This is the local perspective. From a global point of view Waigeo should be seen as the LAST truly wild large island at the edge of the South Pacific, west of the New Guinea mainland. If destroyed further, in the near future it was the last true wilderness island and there will be no ways to restore it anywhere on Earth again.
Athens, April 2, 2002
Updated February 28, 2005. Amendments made, supplements added August 2011.
Dr. Thomas Schultze-Westrum
GR 640 10 Prinos Thasou
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