Cyclops Mountains

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Itinerary:

31 July-15 August 1928 at Hollandia

16 August-14 September 1928 Cyclops Mountains, collecting 15-20 September 1928 Ifar, Sentani Lake, collecting

21 September-20 October 1928 at Hollandia

The ship was on its way to Hollandia (Jayapura today) on the northern coast of Dutch New Guinea, close to the eastern border. On the morning of 30 July they were traveling alongside the Cyclops Mountains, which drop steeply to the sea and soon entered Humboldt Bay. Until the Resident Officer had returned to issue the necessary permits for the mountains their excursions were limited to the vicinity of Hollandia. One collecting station was the village of Hol on a small coastal strip in Jautefa Bay where Megacrex and Seleucides were obtained.8

In Hollandia lived several Dutch and German planters, the latter displaced from former German New Guinea to the east after the end of World War I. Reflecting on "colonization" of foreign territories Mayr wrote in his diary: "Should one really interfere to such an extent with these natives, and deprive them of their old culture, replacing it by European civilization? I admit this is a very fundamental question which really amounts to the question: Should one do any colonizing at all? [...] A solution must be found to protect the rights of the natives, and, in spite of a certain strictness of regulations, to do the best for them."

8 In his article on Mayr's bird collection Hartert (1930), thinking that Hol was an abbreviation for "Hollandia," added the rest of the word to Mayr's Hol labels. One can usually tell that it has been added but the Rothschild labels have "Hollandia" written out and one has to look at Mayr's labels. Mostly, this does not matter, but there are a few birds that Mayr obtained only at Hol (M. LeCroy, pers. comm.).

Mali Empire

Fig. 2.8. The isolated Cyclops Mountains and Lake Sentani on the northern coast of Irian

Jaya (former Dutch New Guinea). Elevations in feet. For a location map see Fig. 2.4 <-

After the Resident Officer had returned on 12 August they were ready to leave for the Cyclops Mountains on 16 August and on the same day reached Ifaar on Lake Sentani. A number of endemic subspecies of birds inhabiting this grassland region indicate that at least part of the grassland must be old and not man-made. Among the grassland birds were Malurus, Megalurus, Saxicola, and some Lonchura species. On 18 August a camp was established north of Ifaar at about 700 to 750 m elevation. Here they had found a spring, but no other water further up the slope. With several helpers Mayr concentrated for a few days on plant collecting, especially orchids were plentiful in this region. The forests were swarmed by chiggers and, not quite as bad, by leeches.9 It rained a lot, but not as much as on the Wondiwoi Mountains a month earlier. Mayr found the lower limit of distribution of montane birds to be higher here than in the Arfak and Wondiwoi Mountains. He established that most of the montane avifauna was missing, particularly the birds of paradise. Therefore, the birds of the lower montane zones extend their vertical ranges all the way up to 2,000 m, e.g., Phylloscopus, Pitohui dichrous, and Poecilodryas leucops. Mayr suspected that the montane species never had colonized this isolated mountain range rather than being extinct there. This mountain range and others along the north coast of New Guinea probably have been islands cut off from the rest of New Guinea during the late Tertiary.

Hartert and Rothschild's idea that the Cyclops Mountains might harbor an unknownmontane bird faunahad been basedonasmallbirdcollectionsupposedly from the "Cyclops Mountains" made by J. M. Dumas in the late 1890s. Rothschild (1899) had described Melampitta gigantea from "Mt. Maori west of Humboldt Bay." Mayr's (1930f: 24) statement that Mt. Moari (Mori) is actually located in the Arfak Mountains near Oransbari (Fig. 2.5) helped to solve many zoogeographical problems.

Around 2,000 m the forest was high and humid. While hunting birds Mayr looked at all the epiphytes in search of flowering orchids which were plentiful there. On 3 September he moved the camp to a site at 1,100 m which had been prepared during the preceding days and on 11 September he climbed the top of the Cyclops Mountains. A view from a high tree convinced him that this was indeed the highest peak. On the way back to camp he visited a cave inhabited by about 300 large fruit bats which, after his entry, cruised around screaming in the upper part of the cave.

On 14 September the expedition returned to the lowlands and to Ifaar at the shore of Lake Sentani. The grassland avifauna was studied for a week and on 21 September Mayr went alone to Hollandia to take care of his mail and to dispatch the bird collections to Bogor (Buitenzorg, Java). The steamer arrived on 24 September 1928 with rather unexpected news. Whereas Mayr expected his return to Germany

9 As an example, after a march of 11/2 hours, he removed 83 leeches from his shoes.

within a few months, Hartert suggested that after the completion of the Saruwaget (Huon) expedition, Mayr continue work in New Guinea, go to Biak Island for a rest and then on to the Weyland Mountains (although Mayr's contract signed for a collection of 3,000 bird skins had been fulfilled). Originally, Stresemann and Hartert had also planned that Dr. Rudolf Kuhk would travel to New Guinea in early or mid-1929 to join Mayr for the Weyland expedition. Both these projects, however, fell through when, in March 1929, the American Museum in New York approached Stresemann and the Museum of Natural History in Berlin proposing that Mayr join the Whitney South Sea Expedition. Stresemann later sent Georg Stein to northwestern New Guinea in 1931 to continue Mayr's work in that region.

During the first week of October 1928 Mayr and his crew finished searching around Lake Sentani and Ifaar and then returned to Hollandia on the coast. The collections from the Cyclops Mountains were packed and dispatched to Java. The time had come to part, to say 'Goodbye' and 'Thank you' to his faithful and hardworking mantris—Sario, Darna, and Soeab. They returned home to Bogor (Buitenzorg), on 20 October. It was they who deserved major credit for the success of Mayr's first expedition and he was fully aware of this. He also acknowledged gratefully Dr. K. W. Dammermann and Dr. H. C. Siebers of the Zoological Museum in Bogor, who so unselfishly and splendidly supported him. Mayr in the 1990s spoke very highly of this truly exemplary spirit of collaboration between the museums in Tring and Bogor. Drs. Dammermann (1885-1951) and Siebers (1890-1949) went out of their way to help. Not only did they make the three mantris available, but they also made a major contribution to the equipment of the expedition. In addition they received, opened and thoroughly dried the collections which Mayr sent in several shipments to Bogor. Subsequently, Dr. Dammermann had the consignments repacked and forwarded to England. About 270 specimens of these collections were later returned to the museum in Bogor after Hartert had completed their scientific study.

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