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KAMORO ECOLOGY - CHAPTER VI.

© Kal Muller, 2004. (Bahasa Indonesia)


01. The eggs of wild birds provide the Kamoro with tasty protein. This sample was taken from one of the megapode mound-builders, probably Megapodius reinwart, known as the Common Scrubfowl. The Red-Billed Bush Turkey, Talegalla cuvieri, also builds mound-nests.

02. The Metallic Starling, Alponis metallica, provides delicious snacks for young boys. They hunt them seasonally in swampy areas where the birds flock at dusk. The boys hide there and use long, thin branches to bat the birds down. The birds are then quickly roasted and eaten.

03. Colorful tropical rain forest birds are hunted and sold illegally by outsiders and Kamoro alike. Various traps and snares catch the birds which are then sold in the Timika market. Some are kept by local residents but most are shipped to Java.

04. A seasonal visitor from 'down under', the Australian Pelican (Pelecanus conspicillatus) can be seen in large aggregations, up to some 200 individuals, on sand bars close to the coast and on estuary mudflats. The Kamoro use their feathers as decoration.

05. The skins of birds of paradise, such as the Greater Bird of Paradise, were traded by the Kamoro long before they came under the influence of the outside world. They are still occasionally hunted with bows and arrows. During various rituals and at the annual Kamoro festival, headpieces of either just feathers or whole birds add color to men's outfits.

06. The unique and endemic Sothern Crowned Pigeon (Goura scheepmakeri) is the largest of three similar species which have split up Papua into three mutually exclusive territories. The bird has fatal flaws for its survival: it is rather tame and has a large, meaty body. Our pigeon also has a fatal attraction to leftovers after sago preparation in the jungle, a fact well known to the Kamoro. Go back to a felled sago tree and it's like shooting ducks in a gallery.

07. Cassowary chicks are sometimes kept as pets. The Southern Cassowary, is known as Casuarius casuarius to ornithologists and petuu to the Kamoro. Looking like a cross between an ostrich and a turkey, this large, flightless bird is the biggest endemic animal in New Guinea. The cassowaries are cursed with lots of meat, large eggs, strong femur bones and coarse, shiny black feathers, all eagerly sought by the Kamoro.

08. A cassowary egg, a light green monster normally weighing some 650 grams has a taste similar to the egg of a chicken. The Kamoro usually eat them boiled. The cassowary usually lays three to five of these eggs on the forest floor. They are incubated by the male for about two months then the chicks are raised for some nine months to maturity.

09. Blyth's Hornbill, Rhyticeros plicatus, is the only member of the 44-species strong hormbill family found in New Guinea. Because of its mating habits and life-style, some Kamoro refuse to hunt this bird.




  © Copyright UNIPA - ANU - UNCEN PapuaWeb Project, 2004.

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