"By Aeroplane to Pygmyland" Accounts of the 1926 Smithsonian-Dutch Expedition to New Guinea

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Journal of Matthew Stirling
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September 1, 1926 : Overland Trail/Upper Rouffaer/Nogullo River ; Rouffaer River

September 1

We decided to make this a day of rest and not break camp until tomorrow. The carriers have a good many foot wounds and chafing sores on their shoulders from the packs, particularly the three Malay convicts who while not so heavily burdened are not accustomed to such hard going and find it pretty rough. Up to this point we have been travelling all the way from River "C" through a "No Man's Land" which is not only marked by a lack of men, but of all animals and birds and a great scarcity of insects as well. Here the life zone begins again. Birds suddenly become numerous again - cockatoos, birds of paradise and all the rest. Insects can be heard chirping by the thousands, while in the pink flowers so abundant at the mouth of this creek can be seen dozens of gorgeous butterflies. Even the trees, beginning at the jasper river are much larger, and pig tracks are fairly abundant around here. It is a curious feature, the zone of no life, which so effectually insulates the interior of the mountains from the lake plain. One really does not notice the lack of life so much as the sudden recommencement of it, which is about at the Jasper river. It is worthy of note that human signs coincide with the rest of the biologic world in {p. 232} this respect. It is too bad that these rivers have no fish in them as it would help out the food problem a lot. Tomalinda rested by going hunting this morning and returned to camp with two fine birds of Paradise.

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