Bleher’s Biotopes in Nature and in Aquaria
The Mamberamo forms the largest river system of the second largest island in the world, and is situated in the northwestern part of New Guinea. Its western branch, the Tariku (formely Rouffaer), is fed by the rivers Kano, Konda, and Kurogo, which rise in the highlands of the Sudiram range. Its eastern arm is the river named the Idenburg by the earlier Dutch colonists, which rises in the Jayawijaya range and is called the Taritatus by the Indonesians. This river system, which is more than 2000 km in length and only one of the least explored in the world, flows into the Pacific in the northern part of Irian Jaya, Indonesia. The first white man to visit the Mamberamo was a Dutchman, Captain Franssen Herderschee (1872-1932), who sailed some 150 km up stream in 1907. Only a very few adventurers and scientists followed in his foot steps, the last of them during 1930’s, and none of them penetrated as far as the Idenburg. In the 1950’s occasional missionaries started to fly to the region, and later their numbers increased. Even today there are only a few landing strips in the Mamberamo region, and where they do exist they are mere clearings where the primeval forest has been felled by the natives, and are used almost exclusively by the missionaries. There are no commercial flights, and travel in or to the area is not permitted. The region has been suggested to become a National Park, the Mamberamo Foja, covering 1,661,000 hectares, and it would be the largest protected zone in Indonesia. An absolute necessity to protect the more than 100 species of mammals, 330 species of birds, and almost inumberable, and largely undiscovered, fishes and insects, almost all of them endemic. The Mamberamo system harbours not only the majority of the lakes of Indonesia, but also the largest, and the region constitutes the largest area of swamp on earth, the so-called Lakes-Plains-Depression, even larger than the Pantanal in Mato Grosso province, Brazil. The author, with the aid of bold Italian lady and two Japanese, was the first white man (apart from the missionaries) to travel in this region since it was taken over by Indonesia in 1969.
Text and Photos: Heiko Bleher
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