By GLORIA BAUAI
AN increase in demand for skins, feathers and fur of local wildlife has seen more animals hunted, a local conservationist says.
Wildlife Conservation Society programme officer Azalea Anota said the surge in the demand for bilas (the use of animal skins, furs and feathers for traditional or ceremonial clothing) raised its commercial value leading to the over hunting of these animals.
Anota said hunters were now trapping or killing the animals for sale.
“An increasingly large number of animals used for bilas are becoming hard to catch in the forest,” she said.
“This suggests over-hunting is becoming a looming threat for wildlife, along with climate change and land-use change.
“If hunting activity continues without proper awareness and regulatory approaches, Papua New Guinea’s bilas tradition will sadly become another dead folklore.”
Anota explained that species at risk were grouped as endangered critically endangered, vulnerable and threatened.
“In the Highlands, where bird feathers and fur from tree climbing marsupials (tree kangaroos and cuscus’) are commonly used in traditional bilas, various species found in the traditional ornamentation like the Vulturine parrot (vulnerable) and the Goodfellow’s tree kangaroo (endangered) are at high risk of extinction in the wild because of their demand,”she said.
“If there is no conservation effort to protect these species, they will become extinct in the wild; meaning they will not be found in the wild but only in captivity like in zoos.”
Anota said people at local level could adapt simple behavioural changes to protect bilas wildlife.
“Do not hunt and sell species at risk or female animals,” she said.
By GLORIA BAUAI