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KAMORO ECOLOGY - CHAPTER IX.

© Kal Muller, 2004. (Bahasa Indonesia)


01. The subdistrict capital of Kokonau provides a market for the Kamoro living nearby. Bugis merchants, government officials and personnel of the Roman Catholic church are the customers. Items for sale include bivalve mollusks, and the corbiculate clams, Polymesoda coaxans, P. papuensis and P. enosa. These animals are collected in the mangroves by Kamoro women during foraging trips.

02. While many bivalves and gastropods are consumed, the Kamoro prefer the larger-bodied corbiculate clams. These are cooked directly over an open fire and usually eaten with sago. The shells are used for making lime, essential for body decorations during rituals as well as anti-boring organisms for canoes.

03. In Pigapu Village (on the Wania River) a mollusk called 'yake' is often eaten. This bivalve is identified by the Freeport Envionmental Department as Polymesoda papuensis. Thanks to the experts at Freeport, a relatively complete biodiversity picture has emerged for the Timika area.

04. The Lineate Nerite, Nerita ballet, is an adjunct to the Kamoro diet. This mollusk is considered male by some Kamoro while the related Nerita planospira, the Flat-spired Nerite, is considered female. No reasons were given as to this difference.

05. In the Timika area, there is an occasional triton-like shall. This is the Busykon Whelk, also called the False Trumpet, or Australian Trumpet, Syrinx aruanus. Most of the time it is washed up empty on beaches in the area. But when the animal is still inside, it is eaten. The shell is perforated at the top and sometimes used as a trumpet. References state that this is the largest gastropod in the world.

06. Tamelo is a local Kamoro delicacy. If you are ever lucky enough to have the opportunity to visit a Kamoro village, try these long, slimy, worm-like 'worms' related to ships' worms. Not nearly as awful as it looks. It is really a bivalve mollusk, tasting like a sweet, delicious raw oyster.

07. Tambelo is found in rotting mangrove trees. These are split open to reveal the boring mollusks. There are several species of tembelo, all belonging to the Teredinidae Family. This includes a close relative, the boring ship's worm, not good to eat as far as we know. The longest, slimiest and best tambelo, according to the Kamoro is called 'ko' and known scientifically as Bactronophorus thoracites.

08. The larger, mature species of tambelo average some 30 cm. in length. The best tambelo comes from two species of mangrove trees, Rhizophora stylosa and R. apiculata. Another tree species, R. mucronata, is home to another species of tambelo, with not such a good taste, known as Dicyathifera mucronata.

09. A type of tambelo found in fresh water only, has so far not been identified scientifically. The Kamoro call this titiri or tiiri. Is is thin and sweet-pasty tasking. This long and thin animal. some 20 cm. long, breaks easily, thus hard to pull out as the body breaks in the process. These tambelo are sometimes 'farmed' by fastening a log in a stream or a river.

10. The Kamoro who lived near the East Levee said that the freshwater tambelo 'came back' after the completion of this levee. They were able to find some in 1999, but for some mysterious reason this bivalve disappeared again at the beginning of the year 2000. These bivalves are found in good numbers to the east and west of Freeport's tailings deposition area.




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