Cendrawasih The Bird of Paradise in Papua

Everything in this world is a gift from the creator of this universe. It should be appreciated and preserved for the next generations. One of the most magnificent natural resources in Papua is Cendrawasih or famous as the Bird of Paradise. The Papuan people believe that Cendrawasih birds are the reincarnation of fairies.

Cendrawasih is a typical bird of Papua that is the symbol of their beautiful nature and culture. It is also the symbol of solidarity.  The genus of Cendrawasih is categorized as Paradisaea. There are 43 species of Cendrawasih that lives in the forest, from sea level to mid-mountain forest. There is a unique fact about this beautiful bird, it is the male that has long and strikingly beautiful colorful feathers with a combination of brown, yellow, red, purple, white, green and blue. The feathers are being used to attract females. The older it is, the longer the feathers will grow, and more beautiful in shape.

Cendrawasih, The Bird of Paradise in Papua
Cendrawasih – Red Bird of Paradise via blogs.uajy.ac.id

The Papuan people has a local wisdom in capturing this alluring bird. It is limited only for rituals and cultural activities. Their traditional outfit is appealing due to Cendrawasih elegant feathers that are used to embellish their headdresses and costumes. These colorful feathers has drawn attention and inspired many people outside of Papua, especially artists. 

Cendrawasih The Bird of Paradise in Papua
A dancer with a Papuan Headdress via Bola.com/Nicklas Hanoatubun

Sadly, nowadays Cendrawasih feathers are not only being used for traditional activities in Papua, but also as souvenirs and trade commodity, such as fashion products. Many artists create products using the feathers to adorn hats, scarfs, shoes, and even nightgowns.

These other purposes beside traditional activities that are regulated by the local wisdom will endanger Cendrawasih birds. Not only will it endanger the existence of this beautiful animal, but also the natural ecosystem and sustainability. Sooner or later, if we don’t stop these endangerment, the birds of paradise will be rare or even extinct. This means that our grand children would see it only through pictures and movies. 

Cendrawasih, The Bird of Paradise in Papua
Cendrawasih – Raggiana Bird of Paradise via Wikipedia

Thus, the government has stipulated that Cendrawasih is one of the animals that are protected by law, as stated in Act No. 5 of 1990 regarding Conservation of Natural Resources and Ecosystems. The law would also be stronger with the support from regional government regulation. As cited from antaranews.com, “I have instructed the making of regulations to protect the Bird of Paradise, so we no longer give souvenirs made from the real bird, only the replica,” said the Governor of Papua Luke Enembe.

Other efforts that are being made by the journalists in Indonesian Journalist Network(IJN) to protect the birds of paradise are :

  1. Kampong (village) regulation to protect endemic animals including Birds of Paradise. This regulation has already been applied in several villages.
  2. Localize Cenderawasih habitats into ecotourism area that can generate revenue for the community. When tourists want to see this amazing animal, they should hire a local tour leader to accompany them.
  3. Limiting the use of Cendrawasih feathers headdresses only to the custom leaders.
  4. Making imitations of Cendrawasih for headdresses, souvenirs or embellishments.

Everything in this world are to be enjoyed, not exploited and destroyed. We all need to protect our nature and wild fauna if we want our successors to see and enjoy it in the future. Hence, lets save Cendrawasih, the Bird of Paradise, for the sustainability of a piece of paradise on earth.

There are many other Papuan local wisdoms and heritages that we need to preserve. Such as traditional dance called Wor Dance and a famous traditional fishing technique called Aker from Biak. These local wisdoms and heritages teach us how to respect others and nature.


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