Both Alfred Russel Wallace and Charles Darwin used the same words for the remarkable avian family the Birds-of-Paradise (Paradisaeidae), “most beautiful and most wonderful”. Darwin reminds us that the birds-of-paradise story is fundamentally one about the evolution of biological diversity. It’s a story about the “endless forms” of size, shape, colour, plumage, and behaviour that have arisen among 39 closely related species.
The interest of the world in the colourful feathers of the Birds-of-Paradise lead to hunting by indigenous communities for a long time, because selling the feathers of the birds was a source of income. Till the early 20th century hunting occurred heavily and nowadays the Birds-of-Paradise are protected by legislation.
The project Birds-of-Paradise was set up in 1997 by Papua Diving to provide an alternative to hunting. The project gives the guests of Papua Diving and kayakers of Kayak4Conservation the opportunity to do a sightseeing trip on Waigeo for the Red Bird-of-Paradise and the Wilson’s Bird-of-Paradise. These two species are found nowhere else except on the islands Waigeo and Gam.
Papuans became conservation warriors to protect the Birds-of-Paradise since nowadays they get an income every time they welcome guests and show them the birds.