GIDEON Warite is a custodian of the environment and has a deep connection to the land owned by his Koiari tribe in Sogeri near Port Moresby.
He is one of 10 United Nations volunteer community rangers looking after the Varirata National Park, located about 48km east of the city.
Gideon, 56, works at the park which is on a piece of land belonging to his Koiari people.
His mother is Waeira Manare and father is Warite Koare. He has two sisters and one brother.
He is married to Daiva Boboro. They have two children
He only reached Grade Six in school in 1975 and never went further in his education.
Gideon is not new in the area of conservation and eco-tourism.
He was an eco-tourism operator for 10 years and ran his own tour business called the Koiari Initiative.
“I grew up in this area. My parents told me of the many tales of the land and how our ancestors lived in harmony with nature.”
Gideon joined the UN volunteer programme last year.
The Varirata National Park is managed by the Conservation and Environment Protection Authority and was opened in 1973, one of the first national parks in the country.
Gideon wants to see young rangers learn about traditional systems of managing the land, such as what his tribe practises.
When he explains the Koiari tree-house, Gideon speaks with great enthusiasm and pride. The tree house is the main attraction for visitors to the park.
It signifies the traditional knowledge and culture of the community. Other activities at the park include research, hiking, bird watching, camping and sight-seeing.
The community rangers were recently introduced to an innovative smart phone app called Lukim Gather.
It was developed by UNDP to allow Gideon, other rangers and people to record and report harmful activities, such as illegal logging, bush fires and other harmful human activities in protected areas.
For Gideon, this is a novel approach to conservation.
“The smart phone application is new to me and I am now using it to collect data that can be used by CEPA and others for research purposes.”
The application was piloted in the park and will soon also be rolled out to the Tenkile conservation area in Lumi, West Sepik. There is a plan to extend its use nationally.
“ My knowledge of the environment and the Koiari culture was taught to me by my parents. I have to pass it down to the next generation.”
Gideon loves his nature conservation-related work, something ingrained in him by his parents at a young age.
He wants to pass on his knowledge to his children, family and tribe so that they can appreciate the importance of what nature has provided to them, and why such gifts should be protected and sustained.
“My knowledge of the environment and the Koiari culture was taught to me by my parents. I have to pass it down to the next generation. I am always eager to share my knowledge of the history of this place.”