Papua New Guinea: The Wild Side of Life
Tuesday, 4 Mar 2003
We are delighted to welcome Pierre Constant back to Hong Kong, following his wellattended lecture on the Galapagos Islands in 2001. In this lecture, he will cover the extraordinary biosphere of Papua New Guinea. Situated to the east of Wallace's Line, Papua New Guinea shares most of its species with Australia but in each case adapted for PNG's various climates, from tropical jungle to the heights of Mt Wilhelm at over 16,000 feet. In this lecture, Mr. Constant explores a world beyond the borders of time a wild side of life but a hidden face of Eden. Perhaps the wildest place on earth, New Guinea, the second largest island in the world, it is principally made up of primary jungle and mountain ranges. So remote are most areas that, in the 1930s, some Australian gold seekers discovered a population of 1 million people, living out of the known world in the PNG highlands, in a stoneage existence. PNG has over 700 languages and numerous colourful tribes, and tribal wars are still a daily occurrence. In the Tari Valley of the Southern Highlands there are the famous Huli wigmen. In the lowlands of the north coast, there is the massive Sepik River, surrounded by magnificent jungle and rich in different cultures that worship various animal gods. Here take place the strange initiation rites of the Crocodile Men of the Middle Sepik. North of New Guinea, the Bismarck Sea is the gateway to a chain of volcanic islands that form part of the Ring of Fire of the Pacific Ocean. Islands such as New Britain, New Ireland and Manus, have a population of mixed Polynesians and Micronesians. PNG's eastern islands, however, are Melanesian, a diving paradise set in the Coral Sea. Mr Constant was born in France and, having received degrees in Biology and Geology, in 1980 he went to Ecuador to work as a naturalistguide for an Ecuadorian company operating cruise boats around the Galapagos Islands. Mr Constant spent the next two years living on the islands, participating in the first training course for the Galapagos Natural Park Service. Upon his return to France he published his first book, "L'Archipel des Galapagos" and has since lead annual tours, expeditions and cruises on the Galapagos, as well as lecturing, making appearances on radio and television shows. He first went to PNG in 1990, to organise an expedition for his clients. He has returned some 13 times since then, leading various trips including shooting three television programmes for French television. He has also been involved in exploration diving in the Admiralty Islands, where he created a dive centre in 1999. Mr. Constant's photographs of PNG have won various awards and he is the author of a coffee table book titled: "Admiralty Islands Lost world of the Titans".