Wasur is a large national park (4000+ sq. km) located in the southeast corner of the province near the Papua New Guinea border and is the only protected area which covers extensive lowland habitats. This is a region faunistically known as the Trans-Fly and is a relatively dry zone characterized by its open monsoon forest, grasslands, and swamps. Many of the species found here, such as the Agile Wallaby (Macropus agilis) and multitudes of waterbirds are also found in northern Australia.
Most of the land is completely flat, the only topographical features being huge termite mounds, some of which reach over 3 meters in height. During the wet season much of the savannah becomes inundated with water making travel difficult except by dugout canoe. The great Rawa Biru (‘Blue Swamp’) lies at the center of the park and encompasses a vast flooded plain of reeds and waterways. Here New Guinea Crocodiles (Crocodylus novaeguineae) patrol the waters for prey, and there is an abundance of migratory waterbirds.
Although seldom visited, Wasur has long been regarded as a wildlife-watcher’s paradise, as viewing animals and birds is particularly easy due to the open countryside. However, it appears that in recent years the abundance of large animals has drastically declined, and I was shocked by the amount of hunting I witnessed during my recent visit. Although the management program allows for the sustainable utilization of these resources in order to maintain the traditional lifestyles of people living within the park’s boundaries, illegal and excessive exploitation such as quarrying of sand and hunting for profit have become commonplace and measures are clearly required to maintain the integrity of this unique reserve.
To view photos taken during my 2006 trip to Wasur National Park, click here.