The Moluccas are groups of islands to the east of Sulawesi Island, Indonesia. Historically known as the Islands of spices, the Moluccas were once recognized as the only source of mace and nutmeg. Sitting on Pacific Ring of Fire, a volcanic arc stretching from East Asia to Pacific, the islands contain many active volcanoes. Earthquakes also frequently occur in the area. To the east of the Moluccas lies the island of Papua. The western half of the island is part of Indonesia and the other half is part of Papua New Guinea
Lorentz National Park
Located on the island of Papua, Lorentz National Park covers an area of more than 25 square kilometers. It is the largest national park in Indonesia and South East Asia. The park was named after Hendrikus Albertus Loretz, a Dutch national who explored the area in 1910. The topography and ecosystems range widely from coastal area, mangrove, freshwater swamp, lowland and montane forest to alpine tundra and equatorial glaciers. The highest peak in the park is the Carstensz Pyramid, soaring up almost five thousand meters above sea level. It is one of the seven summits, the seven highest mountains in the world. The national park is home to more than 600 species of birds, 123 species of mammals and various types of vegetations. The birds endemic to the area include various species of cassowary, cockatoo, pigeon, kingfishers, robin and sunbird. The famous mammals in the park are tree kangaroos, echidna, wallabies and wildcats. Not all species living in the park is listed or even discovered as some parts of the forest are not fully explored yet.
The park has been inhabited by eight different ethnic groups for more than 25 thousand years. The three major tribes are the Asmat, Amungme and Dani. The lives of these tribes are highly dependent on the rich natural resources found in the national park. Due to its high biodiversity and varied ecosystems, Lorentz National Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999.
Wasur National Park
The name “Wasur” comes from local word “Waisol”. It means “garden”. Wasur area was fist established as national park in 1990 and in following year it was listed as World Wide Fund conservation and development project. Located at the southern tip of Papua Island, Wasur National Park mainly consists of vast open wetland. The park is dominated by grassland and savannah, leaving only small areas of coastal forest, swamp forest and monsoon forest. More than 350 species of birds, reptiles, fishes, crabs, lobsters, mammals and four ethnic groups live in this two thousand square meters park. Dubbed as the “Serengeti of Papua, the park’s wildlife is very rich. The most popular bird living in the park is the handsome Bird of Paradise. Other animals include wallaby, cassowary, crocodiles and several species of endangered birds such as the Southern Crown Pigeon, Dusky Pademelon, Black-necked Stork and Fly River Grassbird. The dominant plants are mangroves and other coastal vegetations. The four tribes living in the park: the Kanuma, Marind, Marori and Yei solely depend on the resources of the park to provide their daily needs. The park is not only source of living for this people; it is also their sacred place.
Teluk Cendrawasih National Park
In local language “teluk” means “bay” and Cendrawasih is the local name of the bird of paradise. The national park was given the name of “Teluk Cendrawasih” because it lies around a peninsula that looks like a bird’s head seen from above. The area was declared as national park in 2002. Covering an area of over 14 thousand square kilometers, Teluk Cendrawasih National Park is the largest marine park in Indonesia. The park also consists of several small islands and coral reefs. The marine area of the park is part of the famous Coral Triangle, a triangular coral formation stretching out from the Philippine to Papua. More than 150 species of corals had been recorded so far including colonies of black and blue corals. The sea is also the natural habitat of more than 200 species of fishes and mollusk. Other animals found in the park are turtle, blue whale and dolphin. The dominant vegetation is mangrove.
Aketajawe Lolobata National Park
Located on the island of Halmahera, one of the biggest islands in the Moluccas archipelago, Aketajawe Lolobata National Park covers an area of over 160 thousand hectares. Declared as national park in 2004, the park is the home to almost 100 species of mammals, birds, grasshoppers, reptiles, dragonflies, butterflies and mollusk. The ecosystems consist of lowland and montane forests. One of the most famous mammals in the area is the Golden Cat. The park is inhabited by group of people known as the Tobelo Dalam. They are semi nomadic and entirely depend on anything that they can find in the forest. In 1994, following a survey by BirdLife, Aketjawe Lolobata was identified as a vital area for the survival of 23 species of birds living there.
Manusela National Park
Established as national park in 1997, Manusela area comprises of two nature reserves: Wae Nua and Wae Mual. The park covers a total area of over eighteen hundred square kilometers on the island of Seram, one of the biggest islands in the Moluccas. The ecosystems range from coastal forest, swamp forest, lowland forest to montane forest. The island of Seram in general is a well-known paradise of birds. The word “manusela” in local language means “bird of freedom”. There are over 100 species of birds living in the area. The most recognized species include Moluccan King Parrot, Eclectus Parrot, Purple-naped Lory, Black-chinned Monarch and many others. The montane forest also provides perfect habitat for various species of mammals. The ones endemic to the island and considered threatened are Seram Flying Fox, Ceram Rat, Manusela Mosaic-tailed Rat, Seram Bandicoot and Mollucan Flying Fox. The vegetations found in the park are various species of orchids, palms, mangroves, and other plants specifically grow in mountainous area.
All of the above national parks are suffering from illegal logging, mining activities (legal or illegal) and deforestation for agriculture. In addition to loss of habitat, poaching also pose a serious threat to endangered animals. Crocodile is often sold illegally for its skin. Moluccan Cockatoo is also illegally hunted and traded as cage-bird. Conservation efforts and several law enforcement actions had been done by both the government and local people for the wildlife survival in these parks.