Indonesia: Flores eagle attracts international bird-watchers

Markus Makur Jakarta Post 4 Mar 16;

More international bird-watchers, especially from the US and European countries, are visiting Flores, East Nusa Tenggara, to observe the Flores eagle, an endemic bird species on the island.

Yohanes B. Fua, head of the conservation section for regional division III at the East Nusa Tenggara Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA), said areas popular for bird-watching included the Ruteng Ecotourism Park, especially on the southern side of Ranamese Lake in Kampung Phinisi, Ranamese district, East Manggarai regency. The peak of Mount Ranaka was also considered an ideal place to watch Flores eagles.

“We have often spotted eagles in those areas. Many international bird-watchers stay overnight in guesthouses in Ranamese to observe eagles and other endemic bird species. Staff members of [non-profit bird conservation organization] Burung Indonesia have all this time accompanied international bird-watchers and tourists interested in visiting the Ruteng Ecotourism Park in areas around Ranamese Lake,” said Yohanes.

He added that the population of Flores eagles was threatened but they were not yet categorized as endangered. “Recently, two researchers from Burung Indonesia observed Flores-endemic species in areas around Ranamese Lake,” he said.

Burung Indonesia staff member Samuel Rabenak, who is also a member of bird-watching group ABI Birding, said Puar Lolo Forest in Mbeliling, West Manggarai regency, Flores, was one of most beautiful places for observing Flores eagles.

He said forest areas in Puar Lolo were still well-preserved, so many birds still could be found there. Tourists with special interests and domestic and international bird-watchers came to observe and enjoy the uniqueness and beauty of Flores eagles.

“Hundreds of domestic and international tourists with special interests had a tour to Flores to observe Flores eagles and other endemic bird species on the island, such as the Flores corvus and Flores scops owl,” said Rabenak.

He explained that trips offered to tourists interested in observing the eagles usually began in Labuan Bajo, the capital of West Manggarai regency, before moving to Puar Lolo Forest, Sano Nggoang Forest and Golo Lusang Forest and ending in forest areas around Ranamese Lake. Visitors could later observe endemic birds in the Kisol valley, Poco Ndeki and Nangarawa forest areas, among other places. “They will also be taken to watch Flores eagles in Kelimutu National Park in Ende regency,” said Rabenak.

“Only a few bird guides operate in Flores. Guiding bird-watching activities needs special skills such as knowledge on bird species and of course, special interest in bird-watching,” he added.

Rabenak said it was hoped that local administrations would encourage travel agents to promote special tourist programs, including bird-watching of endemic species. (ebf)

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