It’s been over two months since we released news on our first, captive breeding of the Raggiana Bird of Paradise chick here at Port Moresby Nature Park.
Born on the 27th June this year, our chick is a healthy bird, being fed lots of spiders, grasshoppers and other insects as well as fruit on a daily basis.
We still don’t know the sex of the bird and it could take about 5 years for us to find out. This is when a male reaches maturity and starts to grow its beautiful plume feathers, highly valued traditionally in Papua New Guinea. Until then ‘Bosh’ as the bird is known, will be covered in brown feathers.
Traditional ‘Bilas’ (costumes) have been part of PNG culture for generations. Specifically, bird feathers are the key components in the making of spectacular head dresses worn by performers from various provinces around the country.
Apart from the Raggiana Bird of Paradise, there are other Bird of Paradise species that are hunted for their feathers such as the Lesser Bird of Paradise and the Princess Stephanie’s Astrapia.
Some most sought after bird feathers come from the Pesquet’s Parrot and Papuan Lorikeet for their bright vibrant colours.
More than one bird is required for one head-dress, creating a trend of overhunting birds in remote Papua New Guinea and prompting advocacy groups to promote sustainable traditional practices to preserve some of our gradually declining bird species.
The ‘Lukautim Bilas Bilong Yu’ Campaign is a collaborative campaign carried out by the Port Moresby Nature Park and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in Goroko.
The campaign emphasises on the importance of preserving traditional costumes with the aim of decreasing the numbers of overhunting bird species in Papua New Guinea.
With independence just around the corner, there will be a demand for traditional costumes around the country. It is advisable that as proud Papua New Guineans, traditional costumes are more significant when passed on from one generation to the next as ones tribal/clan heritage. For this reason, safekeeping of your traditional costumes, especially prized headdresses are very important. You can achieve this by following three simple practices:
Wrap your head-dress up in newspaper, making sure they have been aired out and dry after a performance;
Place your head-dress and other traditional costumes in a box with moth balls to keep unwanted pests away;
Keep your box of traditional costumes away from children’s reach and places that are moist.
The ‘Lukautim Bilas Bilong Yu’ campaign is one of the many campaigns promoted at Port Moresby Nature Park as a way of educating the community in preserving PNG’s endemic wildlife for future generations.
With current trends in the harvesting of birds of paradise for the use of feathers in head dresses, the population in the wild are not sustainable and we could lose some of the species that are heavily targeted for their spectacular plumage.
Through bird breeding programs and such campaigns like “Lukautim Bilas Bilong Yu”, led by the park’s qualified and dedicated wildlife and education teams, the hope is to ensure their survival and protection for future generations.
The Port Moresby Nature Park is an international welfare accredited zoo through the Zoo & Aquarium Association of Australasia and is heavily committed to conservation and education, research and most importantly, dedicated to protecting PNG’s wildlife.