Bird sanctuary and animal park of the Baiyer river
BY Dr JOSEPH KETAN
Anthropologist and politician PNG
Mount Hagen-based scientist
Baiyer Wildlife Sanctuary is 40 kilometers north of Mount Hagen in the Western Highlands province.
It is a nature reserve for 185 species of birds, including birds of paradise, and eight species of mammals including opossums, marsupials, bandicoots and rodents.
The property occupies an area of ââ740 hectares of tropical forest and is situated at an altitude of 800 to 1200 meters.
The bottom of the Wahgi Valley is 1600 meters above sea level, so it’s a big drop into the Baiyer Valley (where breadfruit and coconuts grow).
The nature reserve was established in 1967 as a bird sanctuary by a remarkable man called Fred Mayer.
Popularly known as the âBirds Manâ ââ Frederick William Shaw Mayer, MBE ââ was then working for Australian philanthropist Sir Edward Hallstrom, a multimillionaire who made his money from his invention of kerosene freezers.
Hallstrom funded the establishment of the Nondugl Bird Sanctuary of Heaven in what is now North Wahgi and the Baiyer River Bird Sanctuary, as well as the Taronga Zoo in Sydney.
After becoming director of the Hallstrom aviaries in Nondugl in 1953, Mayer was responsible for collecting birds for the sanctuaries. In the process, Mayer has become an expert in caring for young birds of paradise.
It is said that âNondugl’s Bird Sanctuary of Paradise primarily served as a staging post for Taronga Zoo in Sydney, either to supply birds directly to Taronga or for trade with other zoos.
Sir Edward Hallstrom is said to have “donated part of his collection of birds of paradise to the government of Papua New Guinea then administered by Australia.” Mayer served as director of Baiyer’s Bird Sanctuary until 1968, when it was officially opened on January 13 by the Australian Colonial Administration, âwith Ron Ellis as District Commissioner for the Western Highlands .
The road crosses green hills and fields of cultivated vegetables.
This northbound road passes the Lutheran Seminary in Ogelbeng, Max Tiri’s guesthouse in Kumunga near the Gumanch River, Notre Dame High School, and Kumdi Catholic Station, before descending the bank. right of the spectacular gorges of Baiyer.
The Mul-Baiyer journey will take you through five different land formations: the head of the Wahgi Valley; the rolling plains of Hagen, dissected by streams creating hills and ravines, the steep descent into the Baiyer Valley through the Baiyer Gorge; the dish of the great valley.
The road from Mount Hagen to Baiyer is in excellent condition. It is sealed from Hagen to Mul and Baiyer. The last stretch, from the Baiyer river to the animal park, is gravel.
Connecting the Baiyer Valley to Kotna in Dei District is another paved road, which crosses the mountains of the Sepik Wahgi Divide, up to Banz, up to Kudjip and back to Mount Hagen.
The animal park itself is set in a low bowl of lush tropical rainforest, crossed by the Rouna River, fed by crystal clear streams flowing from the mountains.
The place is full of wild animals. Birds of Paradise include King of Saxony (Ketpa), Princess Stephanie (Mek), Emperor (Kuri), Raggiana (Paraka), Sickle Bill (Rumba); others include eagles, hornbills, parrots, water birds and pigeons. There are also marsupials (tree kangaroos) and mammals (cuscus, opossum, gliders), reptiles (pythons, goanna) and amphibians (frogs).
The Baiyer Valley is flat and fertile. It is a potential granary for the province and the country.
It is also a potential city, with space for factories, plantations, livestock and the airport.
The mountains on the side walls of the valley are great places for real estate and guesthouses for hikers and bird watchers.
On the edge of the animal park is a community, with a school and a health center, surrounded by coconut and betel palm trees.
We were told that local MP Hon Koi Trappe has allocated K500,000 for the rehabilitation of the Baiyer River Wildlife and Bird Sanctuary.
Representatives from the local Ukni tribe, Mark Doa and WanpisWayai acknowledged the MP’s contributions and expressed their desire to work with the WHPG and the Conservation and Environment Promotion Authority (CEPA) to reopen the wildlife sanctuary once reconstruction work is complete. .
We understand that Hon Koi Trappe, MP, had organized a team of Australian biologists to conduct a feasibility study to assess the possibility of reopening the sanctuary.
The team spent several weeks at the Sanctuary.
Their findings have not yet been made public.
The sanctuary is an important natural heritage site that needs to be rehabilitated and promoted for tourism, scientific, educational and recreational purposes.
Western Highlands Provincial Government to work in partnership with Jiwaka Provincial Government and CEPA, to protect and manage cultural and national heritage properties of universal significance, including Baiyer River Wildlife and Bird Sanctuary , the original Kumaphratry site of Kumbrakl in Kurumul. near Minj, and the Kuk World Heritage Site near Mount Hagen.
On May 9, 2021, when I visited the shrine with a group of science students from the UOG Enga campus, we were greeted by two trucks full of Our Lady’s Mother’s Day revelers (teachers) and Mothers of Hagen Central Yamka (who received special treatment by the young larrikin Yauticus Lo).
This indicates that the nature reserve is still a favorite destination for visitors, although it has yet to be brought back to its heyday of the 1960s and 1970s.
Professional rangers, biologists, trained zookeepers, managers and recurring budget are needed for the maintenance of the wildlife and bird sanctuary.
Law and order shall be maintained by the local landowners of Unni, in association with the inhabitants of the Mul-Baiyer district and the Western Highlands Province.
Inside the Wildlife and Bird Sanctuary is a residential area with several bunkers for rent at 100K per night. Visitors are advised to contact Ukni landowner representatives, Wanpis Wayai (71622533) and Mark Doa (71434884) to make arrangements.
In the Western Highlands Provincial Government, the responsible for cultural and natural heritage sites is Mr. James A Wakapu, Executive Director, Division of Commerce, Culture and Tourism, Western Highlands. Mr. Wakapu can be contacted at email address: [email protected]
Notes on birds of paradise: Raggiana (Paraka), Emperor (Kuri), King of Saxony (Ketpa), Sickle-bill (Rumba) and Princess Stephanie (Mek). The funny names in parentheses are in Melpa for Hagen readers.