New plant species discovery in Indonesia

This 2015 video from Indonesia says about itself:

On the island of Halmahera, North Moluccas, more than 300 mining permits threaten the existence of priceless tropical forests. Illegal logging is also a problem for indigenous people in the village of Forest Tobelo people in Dodaga village. Deeply concerned with the condition of their forests that they struggle to resist.

Together with Abe Ngingi, an activist from AMAN, indigenous peoples seek to develop a variety of efforts to protect the customary forest in Halmahera.

From Leiden University in the Netherlands, 18 May 2020:

Newly discovered plant species store manganese in leaves

18 May 2020

Leiden scientists have discovered a new plant genus with two new species at a potential nickel mine site in Indonesia. Remarkable characteristic of the plants: they store manganese in their leaves.

At the Weda bay on the island of Halmahera (North Moluccas), entrepreneurs wanted to open a new nickel mine. But before they got their permission, they had to perform an environmental impact assessment. The inventory of the flora and fauna present revealed a surprising discovery.

Brand new plant genus

Leiden researchers did not identify one, but two new species in the plants from the site. They could not classify them into existing plant genera, but did conclude that both new species belong to the same genus. That new genus was given the name Weda. The species are published in the Journal of Systematics and Evolution. First author of the publication is Naturalis researcher and Professor of Biology Peter van Welzen, botanical artist Esmée Winkel, associated with the Leiden Hortus botanicus, made illustrations of the new species.

It’s a rare discovery, says Roderick Bouman, who is a PhD candidate at the Hortus botanicus and co-author of the study. ‘Sometimes an existing group is broken up based on DNA research. But discovering an unknown group, as was the case here, is very rare.’

Not nickel, but manganese

Bouman himself does a lot of genetic kinship research, for example, he is working on reclassifying the genus Phyllantus. For the Weda study, he also helped with the DNA data of the new species.

Other researchers analysed the metals in the leaf material, he says, which resulted in another surprise. The reason for the metal analysis was that the plants were found in an area with heavy metals, in particular nickel. ‘And metal uptake is quite common in the plant family to which they belong. So this was analysed, but then it turned out that the plant stores more manganese and almost no nickel. This has also been independently confirmed by another study. The amount is not enough to use the plants as a commercial source of manganese, though.

Euphorbia family

The new genus was classified in the plant family Euphorbiaceae, commonly called spurge. This family also contains species such as the rubber tree, cassava and poinsettia, which is popular at Christmas time. The biggest distinguishing feature for Weda as a group is the combination of leaves with basal glands, long-stemmed inflorescences that have two bracts under the flowers, says Bouman. The two types can be distinguished on the attachment of petiole to the leaf, flower color and the size of bracts (a type of bracts) with the flowers.


The genus name Weda refers to the location of the new species: the Weda Bay. The name of species Weda fragaroides comes from the scientific name for the strawberry, Fragaria, because the flower base of the male flowers resembles that of the strawberry, which later forms a (mock) fruit. The second species owes its name to the colour of its petals: lutea is Latin for yellow. In addition, according to good scientific practice, the species names are completed with the name of the discoverer, so that the full names are: Weda fragaroides Welzen and Weda lutea Welzen.

Dutch racists vandalize Moluccan mosque

Moluccan mosque in Waalwijk

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Moluccan mosque in Waalwijk daubed

Today, 13:19

Strangers have tonight daubed the Moluccan [from the Maluku islands in the Malay archipelago] An-Nur mosque in Waalwijk with slogans. “Fuck Allah” and “Fuck Isis“, it says on walls and windows.

Visitors to the mosque speak of “a cowardly act”. “We have nothing to do with ISIS and we do not want to have anything to do with it,” said one of them to Omroep Brabant broadcasting organisation. The mosque people would like to get in touch with the perpetrators to talk.

Also an apartment building near the mosque was daubed.

Dutch soldiers killed unarmed people, government lied

This Dutch regional Drenthe province TV video says about itself (translated):

Torrent of bullets killed train hijackers at De Punt

Nov 30. 2013

De Punt – The train hijacking at De Punt in 1977 ended indeed in a hailstorm of bullets. This appears from secret documents from the National Archives, which daily De Volkskrant has seen.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Van Agt informed parliament incorrectly about train hijacking

Today, 11:37

Dries van Agt, then Minister of Justice, has misinformed parliament in 1977 on the termination of the train hijacking at De Punt [in Drenthe province; by South Moluccans]. This says Ard van der Steur, Minister of Security and Justice.

But according to Van der Steur he does not know whether Van Agt briefed parliament deliberately incorrectly when he said that no unarmed hijacker was shot.

The Parliamentary Committee for Security and Justice has today discussed the results of a study that Van der Steur’s predecessor Opstelten has commissioned about the end of the train hijacking. When marines ended the hijacking in 1977 six of the nine hijackers were killed. Also two hostages were killed.


This archive research shows, according to Opstelten, that killed hijackers were not executed, as claimed by the relatives of the hijackers. They rely on documents that have recently been released. These include the autopsy reports and a report of the Forensic Laboratory. Lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld of the relatives has meanwhile held the government liable.

The study did make it clear that Justice Minister Van Agt misinformed parliament in 1977 on a number of points. He then suggested in a debate that the marines had not fired any shots at hijackers who did not resist with weapons. The investigation revealed that at least the killed female hijacker had no weapon.

National anthem

According to Van der Steur that was clear already then, so the House was informed factually inaccurately, says the minister. But the question is whether Van Agt has done this deliberately. “Perhaps he based himself on false information,” says Van der Steur.

For the MPs Jeroen Recourt (PvdA) and Harry van Bommel (SP) it does not matter whether Van Agt misinformed parliament consciously or not. “As a minister, he was responsible. He has whitewashed the case”, said Recourt.

After the meeting in parliament some relatives in the public gallery sang the Moluccan national anthem.

In this music video you can hear the Moluccan anthem Maluku Tanah Airku.

Update October 2016: here.

Hundreds freed from slave island in Indonesia

This video from Indonesia says about itself:

Hundreds of fishermen rescued from slavery in Indonesia

3 April 2015

Hundreds of foreign fishermen have been rescued from an isolated island in Indonesia, where they’ve been living as slaves. They are part of a group of about four thousand people trafficked from Myanmar and other countries. Al Jazeera’s Step Vaessen reports from Benjina, one of the islands where the fishermen were kept.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Indonesia: Fishermen rush to escape slave island

Saturday 4th March 2015

HUNDREDS of foreign fishermen jumped at the chance to be rescued yesterday from an isolated Indonesian island where slavery is rife.

Indonesian officials investigating abuses had offered to take them away, out of concern for the men’s safety.

The crewmen, from countries including Myanmar and Cambodia, heard of the chance of rescue as a downpour started and sprinted back to their boats, jumping over rails and through windows in the rush to be rescued.

The authorities’ small boat went from trawler to trawler picking up men who wanted to go and was soon loaded down.

Indonesian Marine Resources and Fisheries Surveillance director general Asep Burhundun initially told 20 men from Myanmar that he would remove them from Benjina village to neighboring Tual island for their safety following interviews with officials.

But as news spread that men were being helped to leave, dozens of others started filing in.

When Mr Burhundun was asked if others hiding in the jungle could come as well, he said: “They can all come.

“We don’t want to leave a single person behind.”

The delegation began assessing the situation on the island this week, following stories of abuse in the international press.

The men described their abuse, which included being kicked, whipped with stingray tails and given electric shocks.

Some said they fell ill and were not given medicine. Others said they had been promised jobs in Thailand but instead were taken to Indonesia, where they were made to work long hours with little or no pay.

The (slave driving) employers were indeed from Thailand, but the slave labour was in Indonesia.

Maybe these cruel Thai bosses were ‘inspired’ to commit their crimes by the post coup d’état dictatorship in their country.

This video says about itself:

Fish Caught by Slaves End Up in US Supermarkets

25 March 2015

In a year-long investigation, the Associated Press has found that young Burmese men are being brought as slaves to a small Indonesian town called Benjina, where they are forced to sometimes catch fish for up to 22 hours a day – for close to no pay. According to the report, the men, who get no days off, are kept in cramped cages in horrid conditions – and if they dare complain, they risk getting kicked, beaten and even whipped with toxic stingray tails. Their catch is shipped to Thailand where it enters the global commerce stream. And ultimately, much of it winds up in some of America’s major retailers and grocery stores, including Wal-Mart, Kroger, Albertsons and Safeway – as well as brands of canned pet food, such as Fancy Feast, Meow Mix and Iams.

More than 40 current and former slaves in Benjina were interviewed in the investigation, and some, risking their lives, begged reporters for help. Hlaing Min, a runaway slave, said many of his friends died at sea, while others are buried on the island under fake Thais names they were given. “If Americans and Europeans are eating this fish, they should remember us”, he added. “There must be a mountain of bones under the sea”.

See also here.

This music video is Bob Marley-Slave Driver. Live at Harvard 1979.

Indonesian army officers’ illegal parrot trade

Green male and red female Eclectus parrots

From Wildlife Extra:

Parrot trade in Indonesia continues openly

Army officers granted permits for protected species

September 2012. ProFauna Indonesia has condemned the policy of the Natural Resources Conservation Center of the Forestry Department (BKSDA) in Ternate, in Eastern Indonesia, for issuing a permit to transport protected parrots to some officers of the Indonesian National Armed Force (TNI).

In July 2012, ProFauna received a documentary evidence of four copies of the transport permit issued by the BKSDA for four army officers. The permit was to authorize the transport of two of each of the following parrots: the Eclectus parrot (Eclectus roratus), the Black-capped Lory (Lorius domicella), the Chattering Lory (Lorius garrulous), and the Violet-necked Lory (Eos squamata).

Among the four species, two are protected by the Indonesian Wildlife Act: the Eclectus parrot and the Black-capped Lory. BKSDA should have not issued the transport permit because it is illegal to keep the parrots as pets. According to the law, the trade and possession of protected wildlife is prohibited and offenders are liable to a maximum of 5 year prison term or a maximum of 100 million Indonesian Rupiah fine.

Iskandar Abdullah, coordinator of ProFauna Maluku, said, “This is a regression for the BKSDA for issuing the transport permit for the Moluccan protected parrots for personal gain”. In fact, various parties in North Maluku have been working for the conservation of the parrots endemic to North Maluku as a biodiversity heritage of Indonesia.

Pet markets trading openly

Meanwhile, the results of ProFauna regular monitoring into three bird (animal/pet) markets in Ternate: Bastiong, Gamalama, and Baru markets, show that the parrot trade in the three markets remain high; the birds were traded openly. Between January and August 2012, ProFauna Maluku recorded that the average number of parrots being traded every month:

9 White Cockatoos (Cacatua alba)
36 Chattering Lories (Lorius garrulous)
4 Eclectus parrots (Eclectus roratus)
18 Violet-necked Lories (Eos squamata).

Previously, in 2008, ProFauna Indonesia launched an investigation report called “Pirated Parrots” revealing the smuggling of 10,000 parrots from North Maluku to supply the illegal parrot trade in the country. The report also uncovers the parrot smuggling to the Philippines.

Indonesia remains epicenter for illegal wildlife trade in reptiles and amphibians. Read more here.

Rumphius and the seashells of Ambon

This video says about itself:

Ambonese Herbal of Rumphius Part 1.

Part 1 – Lynn Margulis interviews the late E.M. “Monty” Beekman (1939-2008) on Georg Eberhard Rumphius (1627-1702) the German-born naturalist and botanist who worked for the Dutch East India Trading Company in the eastern archipelago in what is now Indonesia. Beekman translated Rumphius’s Herbarium Amboinense (Ambonese Herbal) from old Dutch and Latin to English. Video by James MacAllister, F.L.S.

And these four videos are the sequels.

On 26 November, the natural history museum, jointly with the Dutch Malacalogical Society, had a theme day on seashells and snails.

The third lecture was on Rumphius (1627-1702), the author of the first book on sea shells of Ambon island in the Indonesian archipelago.

The lecture was by Dr Wim Backhuys.

Born in Hanau in Germany, Rumphius’ job was merchant for the Dutch East India Company at Ambon.

There, he studied the local flora and fauna intensely, even after he became blind.

This way, with assistants helping him, he managed to write the illustrated book “D’Amboinsche rariteitkamer”, The Ambonese Curiosity Cabinet.

It was published three years after Rumphius’ death, in 1705.

However, already in his lifetime, Rumphius had a good reputation among people interested in natural history.

For instance, he corresponded with the archiduke of Tuscany, Lorenzo de Medici, who inherited part of what he had collected.

Like the skull of a babirusa hog.

The subtitle of Rumphius’ book The Ambonese Curiosity Cabinet mentioned “schaalvisschen”, literally shellfish.

This included both crustaceans and molluscs of today’s biology. Rumphius also described local stones in the book.

Among the shells, he described the Australian trumpet.

Which is not from Ambon; but brought there from islands further to the east.

Rumphius also planned to publish books on the animals and plants respectively of Ambon.

He had bad luck with both.

His book on animals was lost, used by a later Dutch author.

And the Dutch East India Company prevented publication of his book on plants, as they considered it contained information which might be commercially valuable to competitors.

Only in 1741 it was published.