West Papuan lowlands

Country/Territory Indonesia
Area 110,000 km2
Altitude 0 - 1000 m
Priority high
Habitat loss moderate
Knowledge poor

General characteristics

This EBA is in the Indonesian province of Irian Jaya and includes the west Papuan islands of Waigeo, Batanta, Salawati, Kofiau and Misool, and the lowland rain forests, swamp forests and mangroves of the Vogelkop and Bomberai peninsulas, extending around Geelvink and Etna bays as far east as the Sirowa river in the north and the Mimika river in the south, where it abuts two other lowland Papuan EBAs (176 and 179).

The island of Kofiau (which has two single-island endemics) lies off the Australasian continental (Sahul) shelf and has had no connections with New Guinea in the recent geological past; it does, however, share three restricted-range species with other west Papuan islands and so is included in this EBA.

Most restricted-range bird records from the mainland are from coastal regions, but it is assumed that some birds are likely to occur further inland. The upper limit of this EBA has been defined by the 1,000 m contour which separates it from the West Papuan highlands (EBA 173) and Central Papuan ranges (EBA 178).

Restricted-range species

Nearly all the restricted-range species occur in lowland rain forest with several also being recorded in swamp forest and mangroves.

Distribution within the EBA varies considerably (see 'Distribution patterns' table), with nine species occurring on the west Papuan islands only, three on the mainland only and the remaining seven common to both. Of those species which are confined to the west Papuan islands, two are endemic to Kofiau and three to Waigeo plus Batanta. Several species extend their ranges further west into other Indonesian EBAs and some are also found further east in other lowland Papuan EBAs.

Species IUCN Red List category
Waigeo Brush-turkey (Aepypodius bruijnii) EN
Red-billed Brush-turkey (Talegalla cuvieri) LC
Dusky Scrubfowl (Megapodius freycinet) LC
Western Crowned-pigeon (Goura cristata) VU
Blue-tailed Imperial-pigeon (Ducula concinna) LC
(Ducula myristicivora) NR
Kofiau Paradise-kingfisher (Tanysiptera ellioti) NT
Red-breasted Paradise-kingfisher (Tanysiptera nympha) LC
Black Lory (Chalcopsitta atra) LC
Violet-necked Lory (Eos squamata) LC
Olive Honeyeater (Lichmera argentauris) LC
Painted Quail-thrush (Cinclosoma ajax) LC
Island Whistler (Pachycephala phaionota) LC
Kofiau Monarch (Symposiachrus julianae) NT
Brown-headed Crow (Corvus fuscicapillus) NT
Wilson's Bird-of-paradise (Cicinnurus respublica) NT
Red Bird-of-paradise (Paradisaea rubra) NT
Banded Yellow Robin (Gennaeodryas placens) LC
Olive-crowned Flowerpecker (Dicaeum pectorale) LC

Important Bird & Biodiversity Areas (IBAs)
Country IBA Name IBA Book Code

Threat and conservation

The traditional life style of the tribal groups which live in this EBA has had little impact on the natural ecosystems, with some 86% of the province remaining relatively undisturbed. Indeed the forests of Irian Jaya constitute one of the largest expanses of pristine tropical rain forest in the Asian/Australasian region. However, extensive logging concessions have been granted and there are plans for substantial transmigration schemes (Collins et al. 1991). Coastal forests have now been largely logged out around the towns of Sorong and Manokwari, where transmigration settlements have become established. On the west Papuan islands, forest is being destroyed and disturbed by roads built for oil exploration on Salawati, and major forest loss is resulting from logging on Batanta (N. Bostock in litt. 1993, R. Burrows in litt. 1994, K. D. Bishop in litt. 1996). A mining company holds a concession lease on Waigeo (WWF/IUCN 1994-1995).

Swamp forest is also under threat for conversion to rice fields to support increasing populations of settlers, and although it appears that these forests support fewer restricted-range birds compared to lowland rain forest, the limited number of records may reflect the difficulties of surveying these habitats. 'Tambak' (shrimp and fish pond) development, which involves the clear-felling of mangroves and tidal swamp forest, is another pressure, e.g. in Bintuni bay (Sujatnika et al. 1995).

The three species which are confined to Waigeo and Batanta (Aepypodius bruijnii, Cicinnurus respublica and Paradisaea rubra) are classified as threatened or Near Threatened because of their vulnerability to any habitat loss. A. bruijnii is known with certainty only from specimens obtained on Waigeo by local collectors during the nineteenth century and by one specimen collected in 1939 (Rand and Gilliard 1967). Since that time there have been reports from local people and it was probably sighted on Batanta in 1986 (K. D. Bishop in litt. 1987, J. M. Diamond in litt. 1987). However, it was not found in 1993 during an 11-day survey of the forests of the south-easternmost part of Waigeo (up to 500 m altitude), possibly because it may be restricted to higher areas by Dusky Scrubfowl Megapodius freycinet, or because large forest fires in 1982 have resulted in dense undergrowth and secondary vegetation which may not be suitable for recolonization (Dekker and Argeloo 1993). Although A. bruijnii remains almost unknown, it inhabits forest on very rugged limestone karst and may not be as rare as the lack of records suggests.

Hunting is a problem for some species, such as Goura cristata, which has been identified as the subject of 'significant' levels of trade (King and Nijboer 1994), and for the widespread Northern Cassowary Casuarius unappendiculatus (classified as Vulnerable) and Nicobar Pigeon Caloenas nicobarica (Near Threatened), which has important populations on the tiny offshore islands in Geelvink bay (K. D. Bishop in litt. 1996; see also Mitchell 1989).

There are nature reserves on all of the west Papuan islands (apart from Kofiau) Pulau Waigeo (1,530 km2protected), Batanta Barat (100 km2), Salawati Utara (570 km2) and Misool Selatan (840 km2). Although Kofiau has been largely deforested, its two endemics were common and widespread in secondary forest in 1986 (K. D. Bishop in litt. 1994), and have not therefore been classified as threatened but it is, however, critical to establish a reserve on this island to ensure their long-term survival.

On the mainland the isolated Wondiwoi/Wandammen Nature Reserve (730 km2) covers lowland forests in the Wandammen peninsula, and Beriat Nature Reserve (92 km2) covers lowland forests in the Vogelkop peninsula. Additionally, there are five small recreation forests on the coast with a total area of c.35 km2. Extensive tracts of lowland forest are included in the proposed nature reserves of Pegunungan Tamrau (c.4,415 km2) in the north of the Vogelkop peninsula, and Pegunungan Fakfak (c.510 km2) and Pegunungan Kumawa (1,180 km2) in the Bomberai peninsula. Consideration should be given to establishing these well-forested areas in order to conserve the restricted-range species of this EBA and its biodiversity in general (Sujatnika et al. 1995).

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Endemic Bird Areas factsheet: West Papuan lowlands. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org/eba/factsheet/172 on 25/09/2023.