New Guinea is in so many ways the land that time forgot. Far from Europe and North America, it gets little media attention and few tourists. Yet it is the world's largest tropical island and one of the world's most significant centers of biodiversity. Only the rain-forests of the Amazon and the Congo are more extensive. The primary goal in producing this field guide is to encourage cross-cultural communication between the people of the New Guinea Highlands - the Hewa - and those interested in the region's birds. We gathered information about where the birds can be found, what elevations they prefer, what environments they frequent and what they eat. We purposely avoided any analysis of linguistic or cognitive categories so that this book would speak plainly to bird lovers and conservationists. The book goes beyond a lest of local bird names to establish a common understanding between the Hewa and western naturalists. On one level, the book is merely a bird finder. However, since the book contains much information on local avian ecology provided by the Hewa, the book helps to conserve their traditional knowledge for future generations. In addition, we hope the book will serve as an educational tool for the first generation of literate Hewa school children and encourage the conservation of their culture by educating outsiders to the richness of traditional knowledge.
Since many of the finest naturalists living among the Hewa are pre-literate, we relied heavily on symbols to bridge the gap. It is our hope that English speakers will be able to find the birds that they are interested in by pointing to the symbols and attempting to pronounce the Hewa name for the bird, habitat, diet and elevation. In this way the English speakers can begin to access the local naturalist s traditional knowledge of the bird and its habits.
Each page of the Field Guide addresses one of the 184 species of birds to be found in this region. The plates contain a drawing of the bird donated with the permission of Princeton University Press. The drawings are supplemented with symbols representing the preferred altitude, ecosystem and diet of each bird. The written text gives the user the common name as well as the genus and species in English. These are followed by the Hewa names for each bird in four of the five dialects spoken by the Hewa people: Wanakipa, Yakasone/Isureke, Pabake and Sisimen/Waiki regions. For clarity, text related to altitude, habitat and diet for each species is reported in only the Wanakipa dialect, since informants for each language group have indicated that they are able to understand Wanakipa. This represents a slice of the traditional knowledge of birds for all but the most remote Hewa living in the Yana region northeast of the uppermost Laigaip River.
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William H Thomas is an anthropologist who has worked with the Hewa since 1988. He is the director of the New Jersey School of Conservation at Montclair State University. He has developed techniques for using indigenous knowledge that have been recognized by UNESCO as a Best Practice. He is currently working, with the Hewa and neighboring Ipili, Kandep and Paiellan communities to develop a stewardship program for their homelands.
Tama Alulu was the preeminent big man in the Wanakipa region of the Hewa territory. His skills as an orator, negotiator, fighter and naturalist made him a leader of his people. This book and the Forest Stewards program were in large part the result of his vision. Tama died in 2004.
Randall W FitzGerald is a biologist, behavioral ecologist, environmental educator and conservation photographer at Montclair State University's New Jersey School of Conservation, where he also serves as Associate Director. He has been collaborating with Dr. Thomas for many years on conservation issues in New Guinea and is responsible for the design and production of this book.
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