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Arfak Mountains Nature Reserve

Arfak Mountains Nature Reserve (approx. 63,000 ha) undoubtedly holds the greatest source of rare and endemic taxa in New Guinea.  Of the 130 rare and endemic mountain bird species of mainland New Guinea, the highest number occurs in the Bird's Head Peninsula, with 51 forms compared with 33 in the Central Mountain Range.  This reserve contains about 320 birds and 90 mammals. Though it is primarily mountain reserve, all contain corridors into the lowlands and are complete ecological units.

The Arfak mountains are also the world's center of biodiversity for the famous bird-wing butterflies.   Irian Jaya contains a substantial proportion of incredibly diverse and colorful insect fauna of New Guinea - conservatively estimated at over 50,000 species, of which more than 5,000 are butterflies and moths (Lindgren, 1975).  The insects are one of the least-studied groups, which not only offer an opportunity for biological research but also have a tremendous potential for bringing economic assistance to rural peoples.  Some of the most spectacular forms, the large bird-wing butterflies (Ornithopterids), have their world's center of diversity in the Arfak-Anggi region of this province.  But butterflies, moths and an immense array of beetles - including may commercial species - occur in other major habitat in Irian Jaya.  A rational utilization of these species can reach out to the most isolated communities in the region and thus has a great potential for rural assistance than other farming.

Historically, Arfak mountains is the first region to undergo extensive zoological exploration in 1872-1873 by d'Albertis and Beccari.  They hold the type localities from where much original biological material was collected and described.   On the other hand, the mountain and surround are heavily populated, and, even though considerable pains were taken in the boundary design to exclude major settlements, the reserve is under the threat of population expansion.  The transmigration settlements established in Oransbari and Prafi, rubber and cocoa plantation expansion along the east coast are other reasons to concern, although the plantations can be employed as a useful buffer zone by coordinating their planning with the reserve.  Therefore, Arfak considered of priority importance.


Quoted from Petocz, R.G. (1987), Conservation and Development in Irian Jaya.

Copyright 2000 Conservation Science Department WWF Indonesia - Sahul Bioregion