By Martha Louis – EMTV News, Madang
Balek Wildlife Sanctuary in Madang District is a protected area, the virgin environment is home to many wildlife animals. It was a tourist hotspot back in the 1970s and the 1980S. That however, isn’t the case anymore. Landowner and caretaker, Panu Jeffery, says they are experiencing a significant drop in the number of domestic and international tourist.
Balek Wildlife Sanctuary covers about 470 hectares of land and belongs to three major clans in Awa along the south coast road of Madang. A 30 minute drive from Madang town, the sanctuary is a very interesting place to visit and see wildlife. But what makes it unique and well known is the smelling river – a very clear body of water, what many would call as the ‘Stinky River’, or more commonly in Tok Pisin, “smell wara”. According to the locals, it has not been scientifically tested, and what causes the water to produce such a distinct smell is still a mystery. It is however, believed that it is a sulphur spring which fizzes out of a stone cave from a huge limestone cliff.
The Balek Wildlife Sanctuary is a magical spot to visit while in Madang. However, lately, the number of tourists visiting has dropped significantly due to lack of support from the PNG tourism sector and the Government.
For the first 6 months of this year, there were no visitors apart from a group of forestry students from the PNG University of Technology.
The locals believe Madang province has a huge potential in the tourism sector but lacks political support to help locals drive the industry.