Travels to Irian

Neoguin“Irian is the Easternmost province of Indonesia, and is half of the island of New Guinea.

After a long flight via Jakarta to Yajapura, we found a hotel near Sentani where we had to wait for our travel permits (travel to the inland of Irian is strictly regulated, with many locations closed for foreigners). During the wait we took a small trip to Angkasa. There it should be easy to find n. neoguinensis, they stand even close to the road we have been told. We find nothing at the said location, but locals point to a small hill, and confirm that we will find plants there. One of them comes along to show the way, and it helps as the pad quickly becomes a small trail. Immediately we find n. ampullaria, but without pitchers. They stay with us all along the path. However, it takes steep climbing before we find the first n. neoguinensis at an altitude of 430 meter. Then they disappear again, and we find a second group at 475 m. Turning back to go down via another path we find a cluster with large pitchers. The soil here at the hill is red and must contain a lot of iron.Raf

We finally get our permits for the highlands, and fly to Wamena. Wamena is true Papua country, and we see the people walking around in traditional dress. Despite their pride, the Papua are a poor people in the highlands, condemned to beg for a living, having their picture taken by tourists for 10 cents (this was before the economical crisis). The shops and businesses in Wamena are in the hands of immigrated Javanese or Balinese, and the old owners of the land can only watch. I will say no more, but the Papua (which is one of the gentlest people I have ever met) deserves better, and people interested in more than carnivorous plants should do some reading.”

The Carnivorous Plants and Travels of Jean Dewitte

Images: © JdW

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