Papua New Guinea (PNG) contains the third largest rainforests on the planet, with tremendous biological and cultural diversity, including more than 800 distinct languages spoken in a country about the size of California. Some deeply inaccessible regions still contain small populations of traditional nomadic peoples, like the Meakambut in East Sepik, who continue to live in ancestral caves filled with stenciled art that are thought to be 20,000 year old. The group lives on two steep ridges hidden on the edge of the expansive northern escarpment of the Central Range, on about a hundred square miles of dense primary rainforests.
Sadly, a company called Pristine No 18 - in partnership with Australian Siburan - has applied to industrially mine the intact primary rainforests covering and surrounding the majority of these historic caves where the Meakambut still live and thrive. Pristine No 18 is partly owned by Rimbunan Hijau (RH), the notorious and ruthless Malaysian loggers whose conduct has been likened to the timber mafia, meaning logging plans are sure to follow.
But the Meakambut and the entire Penale tribe are adamantly against the industrial development plans. They know that once the mining exploration begins, it will be impossible to evict the invaders from their lands and forests. PNG ethnographers have been recording and conserving the enormous cave art system as well as providing schools, health services, and ecologically sustainable community development.
Please support the local campaign to keep RH and commercial mining and logging out of these forests and away from this priceless ancient culture. In 2009 and 2010, Ecological Internet successfully disrupted large-scale industrial logging of the Ramu River just west of the Sepik in Madang Province, home of Dr. Barry’s wife’s tribe, substantially slowing plans to log 500,000 hectares of old growth. Either PNG's industrial rainforest development for log export, mining, and oil palm will permanently end, and methods of benefiting from standing forests be derived, or the country faces widespread ecological collapse and social disintegration as its final intact rainforests and indigenous cultures are destroyed forever.
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Malaysian criminal loggers Rimbunan Hijau threaten Papua New Guinea's indigenous cave dwellers and their 20,000 year old stenciled cave art
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