goodmorningpapua.com – The circumantance is so dark, only starlight adorns the sky in Sota District, Merauke Regency, Papua. The sound of crickets taking loud increased to the beauty of the night. It is added by the smell of tobacco lanterns so stinging in the nose.
There was a group of young men talked gleefully about their catch accompanied by a glass of bitter coffee. Well, they are young men who have been living in the middle of the riverside forest for several months.
This group lives on the wandering by making bevak or temporary shelter. They are people from the Marind Yeinan tribe who live permanently in Toray Village, Sota District, Merauke Regency.
Actually the Yeinan Marind people are more likely to live in the wilderness to find food, because they have become one with nature. Like Simon Gaminjei Muhuze’s family life.
Simon along with his family and relatives prefer to live in the forest which is their hamlet or customary rights area. For Simon and his family, the forest is like a mother that ensures their survival.
“We cannot be separated from the hamlet (forest), because it is our place to pursue food. We still rely on nature to find food,” said Simon.
For the Marind people, hunting in the forest is a tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation. Anything found will become a source of food, ranging from fish, deer, cassowaries to kangaroos.
Usually to look for the food, all family members are involved, ranging from children, teenagers to the elderly. Without being ordered, they went hunting from morning to midnight, even returning the next morning.
With arrows, machetes and a few supplies, Simon and his family started hunting. The hunting is carried out on foot up to tens of kilometers through rivers and swamps. “This has become our tradition in the forest, whatever is the result of the hunting, that’s what we eat together,” said Simon.
The hunting also depends on the season, if the dry season, Simon and his family tend to look for fish, because the swamp has dried up into a savanna or grassland. “Now we are looking for gastor fish and tilapia fish. Some of these catches will be sold,” said Simon.
As part of the Marind Tribe, Simon along with his wife and children, as well as his relatives live by making bevak in the swaamp of Teal, a hamlet that is very far from the bustle of vehicles.
To reach this hamlet, it takes 2 hours to travel by river using a motorized boat. The beauty of dense forests, as well as various types of birds have spoiled the eyes along the way.
In that hamlet, Simon lives with his wife and children as well as relatives, the amount of 10 families with 30 persons. Their bevak are close to each other, only covered with tarpaulin as the roof of it.
In fact, Simon is against activities that destroy forests, including the government’s policy to make forests an investment area. He did not want his village to be destroyed by government policies. “If the forest is damaged or the forest is used as investment land, where are we going to find food? So, we are against it all, because the forest is our mother,” said Simon firmly.
Simon and his family need months to live in one village. They can move to another hamlet at any time, if food sources around the hamlet they live in begin to decrease.