On the shore of the lake the expedition found an old, rotten canoe used by hunters and bark
collectors to cross the lake; they had to empty it and stop up some holes, but it served its purpose.
Puncak Jaya, which is only four degrees
south of the equator, are four glaciers.
This mountain range crosses the
middle of the island from east to west
and divides the fauna into two separate,
different groups. What lives in the north
is not found in the south, and this is
especially true of the freshwater fishes.
Below us, we could see the forest reaching
an altitude of some 4,400 meters (approx.
14,400 feet). The range of habitats is very
wide indeed and includes alpine areas,
dense tropical jungles, swamps, pine
forests, plains, and coastal areas. These
different areas are home to an immense
variety of plant and animal life, with
many species unique to New Guinea.
Much of the animal life is similar to
that in Australia and includes many
types of marsupials. There are many
snake species, anteaters, opossums, bats,
lizards, tree kangaroos, marsupial cats,
and crocodiles. The latter may reach a
length of 7 meters ( 23 feet). The island
is also known for its many species of
butterflies and some 650 unique birds,
including 80 different species of birds
About 20 percent of Irian Jaya is occupied
by protected national parks. Some of the
parklands along the coast are accessible,
but those in the highlands are much more
difficult to reach. With such considerations
in my head, I realized we were already
The Swiss scientist Patrick de Rham accompanied the author’s collecting party on its expedition
to Lake Lakamora and assisted with the fish collections.
The Kamaka rainbowfish Melanotaenia kamaka. Almost all aquarium specimens of this species
are descended from the fish the author brought back from this expedition.
Kaimana is located in an area of natural
bays. The ocean is crystal clear and
turquoise in color. From above, we could
see the tiny settlement on the coast with
dense jungle stretching inland as far as
the eye could see. No cars were visible,
and when we landed on the minimal
airstrip, we were the only passengers to
leave the plane. Our bags were placed
on a handcart and wheeled to the end
of the runway. A short while later, our
transport to the village turned up—a small
dilapidated truck that had two of its tires
almost flat and an egg-shaped steering
wheel. It negotiated the 5 km ( 3 miles)
to the village without incident, and we
soon found ourselves on the one and only
street, which featured houses on both sides
beautifully painted in bright colors.
We stopped in front of the Diana Hotel
and entered through its cool, simple
hallway leading to the central courtyard.