On the slopes of Mount Rinjani – a semi-active volcano on Lombok island, east of Bali, a little-known Critically Endangered raptor species, the Flores hawk-eagle has become a community treasure, the “panda bear” – or flagship species, of avitourism on Lombok. At least, that is the plan.
Flores Hawk-eagle (Nisaetus floris), a raptor or bird of prey, is endemic to several islands in the Nusa Tenggara region of Indonesia – including a small population in the lowland forests of Mountain Rinjani National Park, an area now heavily degraded by logging and commercial agriculture in national park buffer zones.
Known as an ‘indicator’ or ‘umbrella’ species, the raptors are ‘sentinels’ or ‘ecological barometers’ for the state of forest ecosystems.
Raptors rely on intact forest to support nests and food sources – an abundant supply of small species, such as snakes, lizards and squirrels. On Mount Rinjani, only twenty pairs of Flores Hawk-eagle are known to remain, according to recent studies – locals report past sightings, poaching for wildlife trade and even hunting the raptor to protect household chickens.
Strong global interest in Indonesia’s native birds has seen a rise in regional avitourism – so IDEP designed an inclusive-conservation intervention program for communities in North Lombok, to restore degraded environment and protect the raptor species, Flores Hawk-eagle – now seen locally as a “community treasure”.
Treasure: Listed on IUCN Red List as Critically-endangered endemic species, found only in Nusa Tenggara islands region, Indonesia.
Still in the early stages of implementation, IDEP Media produced a documentary film, in early 2016, to educate the locals on the conservation status of the Critically Endangered (CR) Flores hawk-eagle’s value to the environment, need for protection and potential for sustainable livelihoods in avitourism - as an alternative to unemployment or low-income futures.
Future sustainable livelihoods
IDEP’s ‘Critically-endangered to Community Treasure’ program has, to-date, introduced conservation education, reforestation activities, introduction to microenterprise training – and now completed construction of a public bird-watching tower with species awareness signage inside Mt Rinjani National Park entrance, at Senaru – a platform where Flores hawk-eagle may be observed soaring above the forest. The next stage of training will focus on guide training in species conservation and interpretive ecotourism.
This inclusive-conservation program also aims to provide training and infrastructure for waste recycling, to educate trekking and bird guides in the principles and systems of “pack in, pack out” of all packaging waste - especially plastics - to treasure the beauty and natural values of Mt Rinjani forests, mountain landscapes and volcano lakes heavily visited by tourists – and take their trash back to recycle centres at the national park gates.
Campaigns will also include school education programs to engage our “forest conservationists” and “wildlife protectors” of the future.
Success of IDEP Foundation’s new conservation programs will equal biodiversity richness, and a healthier habitat to preserve wildlife, water, climate, forest – and people!
Funding and sponsors are now being sought to train local bird-guiders in recycle waste management, raptor species recognition, interpretive conservation, enterprise skills - as low-impact, community-based “avitourism-preneurs” – with particular emphasis for inclusion of this region’s sasak, or indigenous groups who, under local adat law, are the traditional land owners and protectors of the mountain’s forest slopes, birds, and sacred waters.
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Nisaetus floris: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/species/factsheet/22732096