East Papua Lorentz National Park Introduction

East Papua

Lorentz National Park



Lorentz National Park represents the most complete ecosystem for biodiversity in either Southeast Asia or the Pacific. It is also one of only three tropical areas in the world that has a glacier. Stretching from snow-covered peaks (5,030 m asl) down to coastal waters and mangrove forest and bordering upon the Arafura Sea, this astonishing ecological spectrum ranges from alpine to lowland and wetland vegetation areas.
As well as very high biological diversity, the Park also has other unique features such as the glaciers on Puncak Jaya and a river that disappears under the ground for several kilometres in the Baliem valley.
There are 34 vegetation types that make up the forest area of the Park, including swamp forest, riparian forest, sago forest, peat forest, coastal forest, coral reef, slope/flat land rain forest, hillside rain forest, montane forest, grassy plains, and moss-covered areas.
Among the species of plant that grow in this Park are nipah (Nypa fruticans), bakau (Rhizophora apiculata), Pandanus julianettii, Colocasia esculenta, Podocarpus pilgeri, and Nauclea coadunata.
There are about 630 species of bird (some 70% of the total number of bird species in Papua), 123 species of mammal, and various other animal species. Some of the more interesting species of bird are two species of cassowary, 31 dove and pigeon species, 31 species of cockatoo, 13 species of kingfisher, 29 species of sunbird and 20 endemic species that are found nowhere else in the world, including the snow quail (Anurophasis monorthonyx) and the long-tailed bird of paradise (Paradigalla caruneulata). The mammal species include the long-beaked echidna (Zaglossus bruijnii bruijnii), short-beaked echidna(Tachyglossus aculeatus), and four species of cuscus as well as wallabies, forest cats and tree kangaroos.
Lorentz National Park has also been declared by UNESCO as a World Natural Heritage Site, and by ASEAN countries as an ASEAN Natural Heritage Site.
The Park’s high biological diversity is matched by its marvellous cultural diversity. It is estimated that the some of these cultures have existed in this area for more than 30,000 years. This is the home of tribes such as the Nduga, Dani Barat, Amungme, Sempan, and Asmat. It is quite possible that there are still other communities living in very isolated areas who have never had contact with the modern world at all.
The Asmat are well-known for their skill at chiselling wood into fine statues. According to their belief, the tribe is identical to the forest or trees. The trunk of a tree symbolizes the body of human being; the branches are the arms, and the fruit symbolizes the human head. Their ancestors-spirits, they believe, dwell in the trees. As such, the Asmat accord great respect to trees. Rivers, mountains and other natural features are similarly honored.
Lorentz was only designated as a National Park in 1997. It currently has very limited facilities for visitors, and not all potential attractions have yet been identified or developed.
Best time of year to visit: August to December.
How to reach the Park: from Timika, head for the northern part of the Park by the local air service; and to the southern part by sea to the Sawa Erma Port, then follow the trails to various locations.

a total area of 2,450,000 hectares

* Long-beaked echidna – Zaglossus bruijni
* Long-nosed antechinus – Antechinus naso
* New Guinea Quoll – Dasyurus albopunctatus
* Short-furred dasyure – Murexia longicaudata
* Three-striped dasyure – Myoictis melas
* Speckled dasyure – Neophascogale lorentzi
* Common echymipera – Echymipera kalubu
* Striped bandicoot – Microperoryctes longicauda
* Raffray’s bandicoot – Peroryctes raffrayana
* Long-tailed pygmy possum – Cercartetus caudatus
* Doria’s tree-kangaroo – Dendrolagus dorianus
* Dingiso – Dendrolagus mbaiso
* Brown dorcopsis – Dorcopsis muelleri
* Small dorcopsis – Dorcopsulus vanheurni
* Great-tailed triok – Dactylopsila megalura
* Long-fingered triok – Dactylopsila palpator
* Striped possum – Dactylopsila trivirgata
* Sugar Glider – Petaurus breviceps
* Mountain cuscus – Phalanger carmelitae
* Ground cuscus – Phalanger gymnotis
* Southern common cuscus – Phalanger intercastellanus
* Silky cuscus – Phalanger sericeus
* Spotted cuscus – Spilocuscus maculatus
* Plush-coated ringtail – Pseudochirops corinnae
* Coppery ringtail – Pseudochirops cupreus
* Lowland ringtail – Pseudochirulus canescens
* Weyland ringtail – Pseudochirulus caroli
* Pygmy ringtail – Pseudochirulus mayeri
* Common blossom bat – Macroglossus minimus
* Moss-forest blossom bat – Syconycteris hobbit
* Common tube-nosed bat – Nyctimene albiventer
* Mountain tube-nosed bat – Nyctimene certans
* Unstriped tube-nosed bat – Paranyctimene raptor
* Greater bare-backed fruit bat – Dobsonia magna
* Lesser bare-backed fruit bat – Dobsonia minor
* Common rousette – Rousettus amplexicaudatus
* Lesser sheath-tailed bat – Mosia nigrescens
* Telefomin leaf-nosed bat – Hipposideros corynophyllus
* Diadem leaf-nosed bat – Hipposideros diadema
* Wollaston’s leaf-nosed bat – Hipposideros wollastoni
* New Guinea mastiff bat – Tadarida kuboriensis
* New Guinea horseshoe bat – Rhinolophus euryotis
* New Guinea pipistrelle – Pipistrellus angulatus
* Mountain pipistrelle – Pipistrellus collinus
* Small bent-winged bat – Miniopterus pusillus
* Common bent-winged bat – Miniopterus schreibersii
* Wild boar – Sus scrofa
* Common water-rat – Hydromys chrysogaster
* Mountain water-rat – Hydromys habbema
* Uneven-toothed rat – Anisomys imitator
* Rn++s mouse – Coccymys rn++i
* New Guinea jumping mouse – Lorentzimys nouhuysi
* De Vis’s woolly-rat – Mallomys aroaensis
* Alpine woolly-rat – Mallomys gunung
* Sub-alpine woolly-rat – Mallomys istapantap
* Rothschild’s woolly-rat – Mallomys rothschildi
* White-bellied melomys – Melomys leucogaster
* Lorentz’s melomys – Melomys lorentzii
* Thomas’s melomys – Melomys mollis
* Monckton’s melomys – Melomys moncktoni
* Mountain melomys – Melomys rubex
* Rufescent melomys – Melomys rufescens
* Mottle-tailed giant-rat – Uromys caudimaculatus
* Cape York rat – Rattus leucopus
* Large spiny rat – Rattus praetor
* House rat – Rattus rattus
* Small spiny rat – Rattus steini
* Moss-forest rat – Stenomys niobe
* Arianus’s rat – Stenomys omlichodes
* Glacier rat – Stenomys richardsoni


* Dusky pademelon – Thylogale brunii
* Raffray’s sheath-tailed bat – Emballonura raffrayana
* Western white-eared giant-rat – Hyomys dammermani
* Black-tailed giant-rat – Uromys anak

* Salvadori’s Teal – Salvadorina waigiuensis
* Salvadori’s Fig-Parrot – Psittaculirostris salvadorii
* Pesquet’s Parrot – Psittrichas fulgidus
* Glossy Swiftlet – Collocalia esculenta
* Mountain Swiftlet – Aerodramus hirundinacea
* Mountain Eared-Nightjar – Eurostopodus archboldi
* Southern Crowned-Pigeon – Goura scheepmakeri
* Long-tailed Honey-buzzard – Henicopernis longicauda
* Brahminy Kite – Haliastur indus
* White-bellied Fish-Eagle – Haliaeetus leucogaster
* New Guinea Harpy Eagle – Harpyopsis novaeguineae
* Archbold’s Bowerbird – Archboldia papuensis
* Snow Mountain Robin – Petroica archboldi
* Ifrit – Ifrita kowaldi
* Macgregor’s Bird-of-paradise – Macgregoria pulchra
* Crinkle-collared Manucode – Manucodia chalybata
* Long-tailed Paradigalla – Paradigalla carunculata
* Short-tailed Paradigalla – Paradigalla brevicauda
* Black Sicklebill – Epimachus fastuosus
* Superb Bird-of-paradise – Lophorina superba
* Magnificent Bird-of-paradise – Cicinnurus magnificus
* King Bird-of-paradise – Cicinnurus regius
* Splendid Astrapia – Astrapia splendidissima
* King-of-Saxony Bird-of-paradise – Pteridophora alberti
* Twelve-wired Bird-of-paradise – Seleucidis melanoleuca
* Greater Bird-of-paradise – Paradisaea apoda
* Mountain Firetail – Oreostruthus fuliginosus

* New Guinea Plateless Turtle – Carettochelys insculpta
* New Guinea Snake-neck Turtle – Chelodina novaeguineae
* Boelen’s Python – Morelia boeleni
* New Guinea Freshwater Crocodile – Crocodylus novaeguineae
* Estuarine Crocodile – Crocodylus porosus

* Jardine’s Baramundi – Scleropages jardinii


Lies within the humid tropical climatic zone. Rainfall in the lowland area averages 3,700 millimeters (mm) (3,160-4,100 mm per annum). Western winds prevail between October and March, while the Eastern winds blow from April until September. The period from December until March is usually characterized by high waves in the coastal areas. Daytime temperatures range from 29-32 degrees Celsius (C) in the lowlands, to below freezing above the 4,800 m contour line. Early morning snow on top of the summits of Mont Trikora and Mount Jaya, or even down to 3,800 m, occurs regularly, but permanent snow and ice is only to be found in the Mount Jaya area. In the mountains, the weather conditions are more dependent upon the immediate topography. Rainfall in the higher valleys ranges between 3,500 and 5,000 mm/year.
Based on physiographic types, five altitudinal vegetation zones have been identified within Lorentz National Park: lowland zone, montane zone, subalpine zone, alpine zone, and nival zone. Some of the zones are further divided into subzones.
The lowland zone comprises the Beach Subzone (0-4 m altitude) covered by a vegetation ranging from pioneer herbaceous communities on the first beach ridge to tall mixed forest inland. The tidal swamp subzone (0-1 m) comprises one land system, the Kajapah land system (KJP) consisting of inter-tidal swamps of mangrove and nipah palm. The muddy south coast of the park supports extensive mangrove communities that are probably the most diverse in the world. Five mangrove communities have been described: Avicennia/Sonneratia community, Rhizophora-dominated community, Bruguiera-dominated forest, Nypa-dominated forests, and Landward mixed mangrove forest. The lowland freshwater swamps (of Peat Swamp subzone, 3-50 m) are very extensive, reaching 50 km inland in the western part and more than 80 km along the eastern boundary. The swamps contain a diversity of vegetation types, including open water, herbaceous vegetation, grass swamps, peat swamps, woodlands and swamp forests. The alluvial Fan Subzone (50-150 m) consists of alluvial fan plains and resembles most closely the theoretical climax vegetation type for the area. Tropical dryland evergreen lowland forest. Dominant families include Annonaceae, Burseraceae, Dipterocarpaceae, Ebenaceae, Fagaceae, Leguminoseae, Meliaceae, Moraceae, Myrtaceae and Stercuilaceae.
The montane altitudinal zone comprises the Kemum Land System, which consists of steep-sided deeply dissected mountain ridges. This altitudinal zone is subdivided into lower montane subzone, mid-montane subzone and upper montane subzone. The lower montane subzone (600-1,500 m) includes the foothills and lower montane slopes. The forest is very distinct from the surrounding zones. It differs from the alluvial forests in being lower and more closed. These forests form the most floristically rich zones of New Guinea and contain more than 80 genera and 1,200 species of trees. The vegetation types of the mid-montane subzone are mixed mid-montane forest, Castanopsis forest, Nothofagus forest, coniferous forest, mid-montane swamp forest, mid-montane sedge-grass swamp, mid-montane Phragmites grass swamps, mid-montane Miscanthus grassland and succession on abandoned gardens. The mid-montane forest in this altitude is referred to as cloud or mossy forest.
The subalpine zone occurs from 3,200 m to 4,170 m. All alpine zones are located above 4,170 m and consist of alpine peaks with bare rocks and residual ice caps. The lower subalpine forest is floristically poor. The forest in this zone has a closed canopy, which reaches to 10 m height, with emergents up to 15 m. Rapanea sp., Dacrycarpus compactus and Papuacedrus papuas tend to be dominant species. Near the forest limit, the forest is dominated by Ericaceae and Epacridacaeae.
The alpine zone lies between 4,170 m and 4,585 m. The alpine vegetation includes all communities growing above the tall shrub limits. These are grassland, heath and tundra. The dominant grasses at 4,200 m are Agrostis reinwardtii, Deyeuxia brassi, Anthoxantium angustum, Monostachya oreoboloides and Poa callosa. The ground is covered by bryophytes and liches and scattered scrubs are common.

The Short-beaked Echidna Tachyglossus aculeatus, which can be found in the park, is one of the world’s three monotreme’s. (Source: Australian National Botanic Gardens)
The fauna is estimated to comprise 164 species of mammals and 650 species of birds and 150,000 species of insects.
In the highlands of Lorentz National Park, 6 species are endemic to the Snow Mountains, including the Mountain Quail Anurophasis monorthonyx, the Snow Mountain Robin Petroica archboldii and the Long-tailed Paradiagalla Bird of Paradise, Paradiagalla caruneulata. Twenty six species are endemic to the central Papuan ranges EBA (Endemic Bird Area) while three species are endemic to the south Papuan lowlands EBA. Globally threatened animal species, of which at least 10 species are found in the area, include the Southern Cassowary, Casuarius casuarius, Southern Crowned Pigeon, Goura scheepmakeri and Pesquet’s parrot, Psittrichas fulgidus found in the lowlands. Vulnerable and threatened birds of the mountains include Salvadori’s Teal, Anas waigiuensis, the Snow mountain robin, Petroica archboldi and McGregor’s Bird of Paradise, Macgregoria pulchra.
Mammals include two of the world’s three monotremes; the Short-beaked Echidna Tachyglossus aculeatus, a species shared with Australia, and the Long-beaked Echidna Zaglossus bruijinii, a New Guinea endemic. Mammals also include a range of marsupials including at least four species of cuscus, several species of tree kangaroo Dendrolagus spp. and one species of Dasyuridae which is often referred to as the “Tiger cat” Dasyurus albopunctatus. 324 species of reptiles have been identified in the site. Little is known about the diversity of amphibians. Ninety species have been collected during the survey in 1997 and more species are supposed to occur. Species of conservation concern include the new undescribed species of lizard Lobulia sp. Restricted to the subalpine zone, the rare Fly River Turtle Carettochelys insculpta, which reaches its recorded occurrence in Lorentz National Park. It is threatened by hunting, egg collection and trade) and two species of crocodiles Crocodylus porosus and C. novaeguineae.
It is estimated that more than 100 species of freshwater fish species occur in the park. Catfishes, rainbow fishes, gobies and gudgeons are particularly common.
Cultural Heritage
The indigenous human population comprises eight (and possibly nine) tribal groups, namely; Nduga, Amungme (Damal), Nakai (Asmat Keenok), Sempan, West Dani and Komoro. The region has been inhabited for over 24,000 years and has evolved some of the most distinctive and long isolated cultures in the world. Of these, the agricultural Dani tribe of the Baliem valley is the best documented. To the south, the Kamoro, Asmat and Sempan tribes inhabit the lowland rivers and swamps and follow a semi-nomadic lifestyle, which is supplemented by simple but effective forms of agriculture. These traditional economies have evolved in harmony with the environment and are controlled by a complex system of cultural taboos and rituals that have helped to prevent over-exploitation of forest resources.
Local Human Population
Inhabited by people for at least 5,000 years, the park is home to eight (and possibly nine) tribal groups who have to a great extent maintained their traditional life styles and total some 6,300 people. The highland people include Amungme (Damal), Western Dani, Nduga, and Ngalik. They practice rotational agriculture of root crops, mainly taro and sweet potatoes. Pigs play an important role in rituals. The lowland people within the park (Asmat, Mimika and a yet undescribed group called Somohai in the southern foothills close to the Baliem gorge depend almost entirely on Sago (Metroxylon sago) as a food source. The Mimika are divided in two linguistic groups, the Sempan and the Kamoro. The Kamoro live in the south-western corner of the park while the Sempan inhabit the south-eastern part. Two Asmat linguistic groups live within Lorentz National Park, Emari Ducur (Sumapero, Nakai, Au, Kapi, As-Atat) and Unir Siran (Keenok: Ipam, Esmapan, Iroko, Jakapis) while the Joerat group lives east of the park boundary around the villages Sawa and Erma. There are approximately 1,000 Mimika and 1,300 Asmat. The number of Nguga living within the borders of the park is estimated at 1,500 people. The Amungme (Damal) tribe is found in the Central Highland, south and north of Mount Jaya, spread out over a least 30 communities. They are estimated at around 2,500 people. Since the 1960’s the Amungme people of the Lorentz area have seen rapid changes come to their land and their lives, due to the initiation of a massive mining operation on their land which commenced operation in 1972. They rarely use land in the upper alpine regions (above 4,000 m) as this area is considered sacred. The upper montane areas (3,000-4,000 m) are mainly used for hunting and gathering. Amungme villages are usually found at elevations of 1,000-2,000 m above sea level although they now also live, hunt or gather at even lower elevations in lowland forest and on the plains (0-100 m).

Add Comment