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 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 occurrs 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.
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.