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Biak Island
Biak Island
Biak - Wildlife Paradise
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Sepsi Village
Sepsi Village

A gathering of Sepsi villagersSepsi is a small village less than 15km from Biak town. Getting there by car you pass through a depressing area of fairly recently cleared forest. The secondary re-growth is providing habitat for many species but it could be centuries, if ever, that anything coming close to the original rainforest that was once there. In Sepsi itself logging of huge trees is still taking place but unbelievably its purpose is to build unnecessary churches. Encouraged by missionaries, this misguided practice is removing the only true resource that could support future generations of islanders. Being a huge limestone rock, Biak is devoid of sustainable resources and depends at present mainly on fishing. All the infrastructure is presently there to support limited ecotourism but even that needs organisation and support.

This leaves most villages like Sepsi living under rather primitive conditions. With little work available local people must sustain themselves from the forest and for many this means continuing the slash-and-burn practice in order to grow a few vegetable crops for survival.

The water spring supplying the Sepsi villageOccasionally they supplement this by catching the odd bird or animal by simple traps or using catapults and it is still not unknown for small groups to chase and kill wild pigs with spears! For most of the primitive people out-of-town, water must be carried by the women and children, and very often over long distances.

Like most of Biak, these people have become very religious encouraged by visiting missionaries, some of whom fly in by their own private aeroplanes! If this is the pattern amongst these Papuan islanders we should not be surprised they often crave for change.

A sustainable lifestyle is becoming essential for all villages like Sepsi if their rainforest homeland is not to be destroyed for ever.

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