Skip to content

Strengthening Cenderawasih Protection with the Wisdom of the Indigenous Peoples of Papua

Black, reddish brown, orange, yellow, white, blue, and green. The colorful feathers of Cendrawasih, endemic to Papua, are usually worn as a crown on the head of a traditional leader or ondoafi (ondofolo) to show honor.

The use of the cenderawasih crown can be seen in various major traditional events, dances, receptions and weddings. He is a symbol.

At the XX National Sports Week in Papua 2021, cenderawasih almost became souvenirs or souvenirs for thousands of PON XX participants, but at that time Mathius Awoitauw, the Regent of Jayapura emphasized, there should not be cenderawasih souvenirs.

At the VI Congress of the Indigenous Peoples of the Archipelago (KMAN) in the 2022 Tabi Customary Territory, Jayapura, only traditional leaders saw the use of cenderawasih.

George Alwi, Head of the Port Numbay Indigenous Peoples’ Institute and Ondoafi Nafri said that cenderawasih needs to be protected so that it can be passed on to posterity. In customary rules, cenderawasih can only be used during the inauguration of Ondoafi.

“Only Ondoafi has the right to use it. Cenderawasih has sacred value because it is crowned in a traditional procession,” he said last January.

Because of the structured customary system, Ondoafi is a position that is not elected but is confirmed according to lineage. So, the use of cenderawasih is limited.

“If everyone uses it, the population will naturally decrease. Therefore, someone who wears cenderawasih shows status in the village.”

The use of cenderawasih as a crown was also conveyed by Ondofolo Kampung Sereh, Yanto Eluay. Kampung Sereh is located in Sentani, Sentani District, Jayapura Regency, Papua.

Yanto said, in ancient times something unique and rare became a symbol of custom because custom was related to nature and was sacred.

“So, traditional community leaders have used cenderawasih as a symbol of traditional community leaders for generations. Like other kingdoms, it is synonymous with a crown. Ondofolo signifies that an indigenous community leader uses cenderawasih,” he said.

Not everyone can use the paradise crown. On the other hand, there are people who commercialize this rare and protected bird.

In fact, in the indigenous peoples of Papua, there is also a special ritual for using it. Apart from that, Cenderawasih can only be used by Ondofolo, which at the same time prevents its indiscriminate use and disrupts the population.

Enriko Kondologit, an anthropologist and researcher from Cenderawasih University, said that talking about hunting animals is not new. There are two things when talking about cenderawasih, he said, regarding utilization and culture.

Before entering into the aspect of utilization, he said, cenderawasih must be included in the customary order first. Humans and the environment are like “two sides of a coin.”

It cannot be separated because the environment forms human character and influences all elements of culture.

Related to the environment, culturally, cenderawasih is indeed in the order of adaptation with its correlation as an appreciation for living commensurately and in harmony with the natural surroundings. So, he said, in Papua, if there is an intense relationship between humans and nature it is manifested in a belief system which they call a totem .

Totem is a belief in ancestors which is manifested in the form of flora and fauna.

“Like me, ancestral beliefs come from turtles. Therefore, in correlation with the conservation system, in the village people are not allowed to kill turtles indiscriminately because they are related to the Kondologit clan. This totem is also related to conservation,” he said last January.

This totem , said Enriko, influences the belief that ancestors come from one animal or flora and fauna so that humans have the right to use it as a symbol for their ancestors.

However, he said, it is not automatic that tribes in Papua use cenderawasih as accessories, face or hair ornaments because they are related to totems . “Only those who are descended from and have a totem from paradise have the right to use it.”

As for utilization, he said, it started when the bird of paradise was introduced to Europe in 1522. Various research and history show that information about this animal was first brought by Fernando de Magellan, a Portuguese explorer when he came to Maluku and then to the Aru Islands. In the Aru Islands there is also a bird of paradise.

Enriko said, the bird of paradise feathers were offered because in Europe at that time clothes were made of animal hair. “Clothing is a symbol of achievement and prestige, so the further the clothing is obtained or the rarer the animal used, the achievement or prestige of that person is much higher.”

When this preserved bird of paradise was brought to Spain without a leg. They call it “paradise” because it is a beautiful bird with yellow and bright colors like a bird of paradise. They also call aphoda , so one type of bird of paradise, Paradise aphoda .

Aphoda in Latin means butts. In fact, they did not know that people in the Aru Islands presented this preserved bird to the Sultanate of Tidore by cutting off the leg so that the blood would dry out and then become a decoration.

Those who introduced the bird of paradise as a superior commodity in Papua were the Biak people. They sailed up to the Sultan of Ternate and Tidore to barter. From Papua, bring preserved bird of paradise and masohi bark.

When it was introduced to Europe at that time, Magellan said that this animal came from the east. The demand for cenderawasih has also increased until the Aru Islands cannot fulfill it.

When the Biak people sailed and learned about this, they started with a “manibob” system or traveling trade. One of them, exchanging machetes for birds of paradise in the villages.

Since 1522, there has been a massive bird-of-paradise hunt. Even historical records say, every year around 1,000-2,000 birds of paradise are sent to Europe.

“So the hunts that are happening now are nothing new.”

What about government regulations?

Circular from the Ministry of Forestry and Environment (KLHK) Number: SE.4/Menlhk/KSDAE/KSA.2/5/2/2018 concerning efforts to preserve cenderawasih ( Paradise spp ) as wild animals protected by law. The Papuan government has officially issued a ban on the use of cenderawasih as accessories or souvenirs.

It was stated in Circular Number 660.1/6501/SET/ dated 5 June 2017, regarding the prohibition of using native cenderawasih as accessories and cindremata.

Jhon Gobay, a member of the Papua DPRD, said that there is no regional regulation that specifically refers to the protection of cenderawasih, but it is in the Biodiversity Law.

“If it’s only cenderawasih, it’s not yet in the regional regulations. The bird of paradise is included in the Biodiversity Act along with other protected animals. But it can be encouraged in a Governor Regulation,” he said last January.

The DPR Papua, he said, has the obligation to monitor conservation only to return to the authority of the central, provincial or district and city governments.

The use of the cenderawasih crown has been regulated in the Amendment to Special Regional Regulation (Perdasus) Number 16/2008 concerning the Development of Indigenous Papuan Culture.

The Papuan DPR has submitted changes to this perdasus in the drafting of the 2022 regional regulation (perda) but it has not been discussed until the 2023 proposal has been entered.

“We hope regulations can be discussed,” said Gobay.

In this draft perdasus,   first, the government and people in Papua are obliged to protect the biodiversity that has been determined by the government. Second , for joint protection to overcome the hunting and sale of birds of paradise.

“I myself proposed that the use of the crown was included in the draft changes to the Protection of Indigenous Papuan Culture.”

In the revision of the perdasus, he said, there had been proposals to prohibit wearing the cenderawasih crown indiscriminately, only Ondofolo or Ondoafi.

“To the government, who will be able to use it later? What kind of guests are allowed to wear, is it cassowary fur or just faux?” he said.

AG Martana, Head of BBKSDA Papua, said that around 38 species of cenderawasih from Papua are protected animals. That number is outside of other bird species, which are in the hundreds.

In conservation efforts, he said, the Papua BBKSDA always involves the community and related parties, as well as anyone who has a vision and mission to protect Papua’s nature.

The Papuan people, he said, have local wisdom about how to interact with nature. It’s just that times have changed and human needs are no longer the same as in the past.

In this context, all parties have an equal role in providing support to the community, especially those living around conservation areas to strengthen ancestral values. So, he said, everything goes hand in hand, together to protect and preserve Papua’s nature.

BBKSDA Papua data, there are several areas prone to the distribution of protected wild animals. Level one vulnerable area is Merauke. The second vulnerable point is Jayapura, Mimika, Asmat, Mappi and Boven Digoel.

Regarding conservation efforts, in 2015-2019, the little yellow bird of paradise is a priority species to increase its population by 10 percent. To achieve this, the Papua BKSDA has established several points of observation of the bird of paradise.

First , Site Monitoring Baraway, Raimbawi District, Yapen Islands Regency. Second , Tablasupa Monitoring Site, Depapre District, Jayapura Regency. Third, Site Monitoring Necheibe, Ravenirara District, Jayapura Regency.

Find a way

Alex Waisimon, founder of Isio Hill’s Bird Watching, actually uses this bird of paradise not permitted by anyone, officials and even the president. Those who are allowed to use it, he said, are only traditional leaders, such as in Sentani Ondofolo and on the coast of Ondoafi.

“When we wear the cenderawasih crown at a traditional party. Not anywhere. Now not on the rules. So, it is inappropriate if used by the government. Moreover, traditional children who use it at the top of the government, “he said last January.

Enrico said, the use of cenderawasih for custom is not as much compared to hunting for ‘economic’ matters.

According to him, there are several ways to reduce the threat of animals such as cenderawasih. Together the parties can formulate customary regulations, or village regulations for the protection of this bird of paradise.

“So if the government doesn’t want us to take over this. Because of this we have. Waiting for regulation is free.”

Other actions, he said, could not only be rules or prohibitions, but there should be other ways to replace the use of bird of paradise, for example, by imitation. “There must be a “sacred letter” from adat stating that the imitation value is the same as the original value. So the resale value remains the same as the original value.”

Alex said, there is a solution with imitation or bird-of-paradise crafts to reduce poaching. Since there has been illegal logging in Papua, he said, it has been difficult for cenderawasih to reproduce, and the population has decreased.

As an environmental activist, he judged it from an economic aspect, not even Papuans.

“I see, there has been no phenomenon of Papuans selling forest assets by hunting birds of paradise.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *