The Amazing Wasur National Park

Situated at the most eastern end of Indonesia, directly bordering Papua New Guinea, the Wasur National Park forms part of the largest wetland in the province of Papua and is recognized as the least disturbed by human activity. Playing host to a large number of flora and fauna, the natural park is dubbed “The Serengeti of Papua” for its astonishing high value biodiversity.

Situated in the Merauke Regency, the Province of Papua, Wasur National Park encompasses a total area of ​​413,810 hectares that stretches over three Districts, namely:  Sota, Naukenjerai, and Merauke. Part of the Trans-Fly biome that  straddles the Indonesia – Papua New Guinea border, Wasur is a low lying area of savannahs, swamps, forests, and slow moving rivers that inundate much of the land during the wet season. The dominant plants here include mangroves, Terminalia, and Melaleuca species.

The Wasur National Park, Merauke
The Wasur National Park, Merauke (Source : pacebro.com)

The park provides habitat for a large variety up to 358 bird species of which some 80 species are endemic to the island. Fish diversity is also high in the region with some 111 species found in the eco-region and a large number of these are recorded as originating in Wasur. The Park’s wetland also provides habitat to various species of lobster and crab as well.

Highlighted with various species of birds including Trans-Fly specials and many Australian migrants, the national park is an absolute paradise for bird watchers. During August to November, the national park experience the arrival of thousands of migratory birds from Australia and New Zealand, such as gray storks, pelicans, ibis, Royal Spoonbills, and more. This is a special feature of the park since it only occurs once a year. Other fascinating rulers of Wasur’s skies include the  Southern Crowned Pigeon, New Guinea Harpy Eagle, Dusky Pademelon, Black-necked Stork, Fly River Grassbird, Greater Bird of Paradise, King Bird of Paradise, Red Bird of Paradise, and more.

The national park is also home to at least three species of wallaby, nocturnal cuscuses, sugar gliders, cassowary, Papuan fresh water crocodile, saltwater crocodiles, and more.

Wasur National Park, Merauke
Wasur National Park, Merauke (Source : wikipedia.org)

The Wasur area was first designated as Wildlife Reserve in 1978 with an area of 2,100 km². With an extended area of 4,138 km², it was later declared a National Park in 1990. In 2006, the park was also recognized as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.

Wasur shares a common border with Tonda Wildlife Management Area (WMA), another Ramsar site in neighbouring Papua New Guinea. Wasur National Park has been the site of a World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) conservation and development project since 1991. In 1995, a Tri-Nations Wetlands Program initiated by WWF between Wasur NP, Tonda WMA and the Australian Kakadu National Park, which led to a Memorandum of Understanding between the three government conservation agencies in 2002.

Considering that it is a national park, you need a permit to enter the premises which you can obtain at:

Wasur National Park Office (Balai Taman Nasional Wasur), Jl. Garuda Leproseri No. 3, Merauke.

ACTIVITIES

There are guest-houses in four villages; Yanggandur and Soa ( to watch the greater Bird-of-paradise), Onggaya (by the beach near Ndalir) and Soa (on the Maro river). These provide very simple accommodation and cooking equipment. Do remember to bring your own food supplies since there are no food vendors available in the national park.

The southern part of the park is the best for wildlife spotting as it has more open grasslands and coastal areas. The vast open wetland, particularly around the Rawa Biru Lake, attracts a huge number of water fowl including migrant birds as well as wallabies and cassowaries, and other stunning wildlife. This is a perfect site to observe various animals in their natural habitat all in one place. From Rawa Biru, it takes about two to three hours trek to Prem, a small savannah surrounded by water which also provides the opportunity to observe wallabies and various types of birds.

Near the village of Yanggadur, in the center of the park, are some accessible monsoon forest areas. Greater Bird-of-Paradise birds are found throughout this area, and can be seen from the main clearing. The clearing area is also good for parrots, including Black Cockatoo, Dusky Lory, Rainbow and Red-flanked Lorikeet and occasionally Little Corella.

GET THERE

To reach Wasur National Park, Garuda Indonesia, Lion Air, and Sriwijaya Air operate flights from Jakarta to Merauke, at the southern-most part of  Indonesian Papua near the border with Papua New Guinea.  From Merauke to the entrance of Wasur National Park takes a 2 to 3 hours drive on the Merauke-Jayapura main road. Alternatively, the town of Merauke is also accessible by a 1.5 hour flight from Jayapura’s Sentani Airport, capital city of Papua Province.

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