My Holidays in Papua (Irian Jaya)
This time on my summer holidays, I journeyed to Papua. As usual, I was
in search of spiders and if possible, spider-fighting. I took a flight to
Jayapura in New Guinea Is., via Denpasar on Bali Is., and via Makasar on
Sulawesi Is. I finally got to Jayapura with no lost baggage. Then, I had
another flight to Wamena from Jayapura. At last, finally, I met Mr. Fuji
(Fujiwara Kazutaka), who acted as interpreter and coordinated my journey.
I really felt at home when I met him at the airport in Wamena.
My schedule was as follows: A local festival, the Baliem Festival, which
was being held by the Dani people and other local inhabitants. I trekked
to a salt pond. I went to the Flower Festival in Wamena. I was driven by
4WD to Lake Habema (3,300 m above sea level), and then I trekked to Kurima.
Of course, I collected spiders in each place. I also looked for spiders
at dawn and during the night. Wamena is a very calm and safe city. Because
Wamena stands 1,500 m above sea level, it is cool and even cold at night.
I wanted to escape the heat and humidity of Osaka. Wamena was very enjoyable.
Meanwhile, the local people were interested in everything. When I was
looking for spiders, they came together around me and they said to me, "There's
spider". I said to them,"PAGI,TERIMAKASIH (It's means hello,
thank you, in the Indonesian language)". And, LABA-LABA means
spider and ORAN means man. So I think the word "ORAN LABA-LABA"
means Spiderman, like me.
In 1937, when a military airplane of the USA was flying above west New
Guinea, they discovered people inhabited in the Baliem Valley. This was
'the discovery' of Stone Age peoples. Mr. Fuji said that the first place
that the research team landed by hydroplane was Lake Habema. The land is
covered with dense tropical rain forest. So I understand the reason why
the hydroplane was used like in Indiana Jones' movies. On second thought,
may be I'm move like Indiana Jones rather than Spiderman. I can imagine
scene of me in an adventure movie.
Lake Habema is located in the Lorentz National Park; Usually foreigners
are prohibited. In the distance you can see the snow-covered top of Mt.
Trikora (4,743 m above sea level), which is the second highest mountain
in New Guinea. Mr. Fuji made a yacht voyage from Japan to New Guinea, went
up the Mamberamo River by rubber boats, and he and his team were the first
to climb the north face wall of this mountain. In 1981, Mr. Fuji visited
Wamena. It was his first visit to Wamana. "In those days, almost all
the people in Wamena were naked," said Mr. Fuji. He told me many other
interesting stories. I owe my wonderful experiences to him. He gave me a
lot of valuable information, namely about Lake Habema and Papeda: a Sago
Palm ball and soup made from carp, and "Tapa" (a Tahitian
word): bark paint art at Asei Is. in Lake Sentani in central Jayapura.
But now on to our next topic, which of course was spiders, the dome-mesh
web spiders, Cyrtophora moluccensis , living from 0 m to 2,500 m
in height above sea level. But this species does not live in the tropical
cloud forest (2,500-3,500 m), and over 3,500 m in height is the limit of
the forest. At about 3,500 m above sea level near Lake Habema, I came across
very interesting webs. One is "Tsuzumi" like shaped webs
(literally,tsuzumi means a small drum in Japanese). Another web I
found was a very large terraced web (45 cm~30 cm in width) on a moss covered
cliff. The former is the hammock-web spider, belonging to the family Linyphiidae.
The latter is the sheet-web weaver, belonging to the family Agelenidae.
In Kurima (1,500 m in height above sea level), I saw nephilid spiders,
Nephilengys malabarensis, in the spaces under the porches.
I also found bark spiders, many kite spiders and many jumping spiders. In
Wamena, I came across an oddly shaped web. The web was tube-like. It looks
like the sac of an Atypus spider's web. This spider is small and
black in color, settles in a tube of a branch (2 cm in diameter, 15 cm in
length) . The web are made on the upper tip of the branch. The sac is elongated
about 10cm in length, and is about 2 cm in diameter.
Like A.R.Wallace who made himself immortal with Wallace's line, which
was the boundary of the distribution of wild animals, I enjoyed everything
to the full during my trip to Papua.
Let me say a big thank you to Mr. Nomura the president of JISCO Travel
Co. for co-ordinating my trip, and Mr. Fuji and Mr. Cosman my guides in
Click on the icon to get more than 30 photos of Papua with Japanese descriptions
and English captions.
See also: Vertical distribution
of Cyrtophora moluccensis in Papua [pdf file]