Flora and Fauna of West Papua

…”The sheer variety of the ecosystems in west-Papua fosters very high levels of the biodiversity, cramming, for instance, as many birds, and plants species as nearby mega-diverse Australia into one tenth the land surface. Whereas the birdlife appears to be relatively well known, large tracts of the territory do remain terra incognita for most other taxonomic group till this day.

 

The flora of the west Papua is one of the most divers in the tropical yet also the least studied and understood. Botanists have estimated that the varied soil types may nourish as many as 20-25,000 species of vascular plants including a staggering 3,000 orchid!

 

New Guinea’s insect’s fauna probably exceeds 200.000 species and many even realistically approach 300.000 sorts, more than half of the which are considered likely to occur in West Papua. Top of the bill are the gorgeous birdwing butterflies among which the paradise birdwing Ornitoptera paradise perhaps stand out as particularly attractive.

With 164 documented species, the mammalian Founa of west Papua is still poorly known, especially when considering that 227 sorts have been found across the border in Papua New Guinea. Large Carnivoras, monkeys and squirrels are lacking completely. Instead, there is a weird and rarely seen Monotreme, the long-beaked echidna Zaglossus Bruijnill, a miscellany of cuddly marsupials including tree kangaroos, cuscuses and ring tail, as well as more bat species than anywhere else on earth.

 

Finally, West Papua boats 716 birds’ species, 61 of which are endemic and hence may be seen nowhere else on earth. The cliché-ridden examples of spectacular avian diversity from many an ornithology textbook all occur here: from the huge, flightless cassowaries and the fascinating Megapodes or incubator birds, to majestic crowned pigeons, amazing bowerbirds, and of course the nearly mythical birds-of-paradise. To these may be added another exciting unicum: the comparatively recent realization of plumage toxicity in the new Guinea genera Pitohui and Lfrita…”
(Alex Van).