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05 December 2010

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Re Kuman language for Black Sicklebills, I stand corrected by an expert.

"Kua siune miugle and kua baundo. Kua (qu-ar) means “bird” and Siune Miugle (Ci-you-ne Me-you-ge) is the name of the black feathers bird and baundo (bar-how-doh) is the name of the brown bird…." - Ambai Waigl

I hope SIL are listening.

I thought my phonetic versions via my wife were at least about 50% accurate. A good object lesson in trying to interpret languages. We are so ignorant at times!

Many thanks for telling us about this excellent film. I loved it. How amazing that we can watch these incredible mating dances of rare birds of paradise in our lounge rooms!

Now Peter knows all about the bird's feathers in his wedding head-dress.

I hope this film is shown throughout PNG.

Robert Bino helped me to write the book on the history of Keravat National High School. The last I heard from him he was doing PhD studies at ANU evaluating the trade-off between the conservation and economic benefits of the Kokoda Track.

It was a great program, not least because it was about the work of two noted PNG researchers, Paul and Miriam.

But also because it went some way to explaining the significance of birds-of-paradise to the cultural traditions of the people, and their involvement in future conservation efforts. And of course the photography was breathtaking.

One issue I had was the estimate of birds killed to provide feathers for bilas. It mentioned 20,000 birds at one sing sing.

However the best feathers are handed down from one generation to the next and so the total seen at one ceremony could represent birds taken over 50 or 60 years and carefully preserved.

The film gave the impression that there was some widespread mass slaughter in a short period of time.

That said, it was a lovely program and is well worth watching. I even got to see a live kwa sine mige bowndor!

If you missed it, you can catch it on-line at ABC iView for the next 13 days -

http://www.abc.net.au/iview/#/view/683895

On Kuman and birds of paradise, the Black Sicklebill from which the long black head-dress feathers come in Simbu bilas, are called 'kwa sine mige bowndor' in Kuman (phonetic spelling).

Not a lot of people know that!
____________________

Now they do, Peter - KJ

Back in the late 1960s there was a base camp out of Nomad in the Western District called Obeimi. It's now been supplanted by a mission set up at nearby Mogolo.

There was a two story bush material house there. Two stories was handy for spotting encroaching Biami firing arrows.

In front of the house was a big tree. In the evening with a cold SP it was magical to watch dozens of Raggiana playing around in the tree. All gone now.

Peter - You have just answered a query that puzzled me for over 40 years.

When I used to practice my bugle playing, my dog Tiger, who was virtually half NG wild dog through his mother, used to howl in note perfect harmony.

It would be fair to say that he also seemed to actually enjoy the performance, something that regrettably didn't receive universal approbation.

My wife said she thought it was me playing my bugle. I was not amused.

I wonder if any readers of PNG Attitude have experience of the New Guinea Singing Dogs?

There used to be one kept by a staff member at UPNG some years back. They are extremely rare in the wild now, although there are efforts underway to do more research into the surviving wild populations.

The dogs seem to receive more attention in the US than elsewhere, although most domesticated dogs are descended from an original pair taken to Taronga Zoo in the late '50s.

It was originally named Canis hallstromi after Sir Edward Hallstrom. Hallstrom brought the first pair out of the Southern Highlands District of Papua New Guinea and to the Taronga Zoo in 1957.

However In 1969 the singing dog was reclassified as a subspecies of the dingo group, Canis familiaris dingo or Canis lupus dingo.

Their melodic wolf-like howling is the origin of their name. Two or more dogs vocalising sound like they are singing in harmony.

There is an informative web site run by the New Guinea Singing Dog Conservation Society who are behind some of the conservation efforts.

http://www.newguinea-singing-dog-conservation.org/index.html

Interestingly the only reliable scientific observation of the dogs in the wild is by Tim Flannery and Robert Bino (a student from the University of Papua New Guinea) from 1988.

Lots more info here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singing_dog

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