Helping the eagles of the sea soar again

Manta rays, native to South-east Asia, are often felled by hunters who kill them for their gill rakers, which is used in traditional medicine. But a successful conservation programme in Indonesia is bringing back their numbers.
Manta rays being hunted in Lamakera in Indonesia's southernmost East Nusa Tenggara province. They are prized for their gill rakers, used in non-traditional Chinese medicine.
Manta rays being hunted in Lamakera in Indonesia's southernmost East Nusa Tenggara province. They are prized for their gill rakers, used in non-traditional Chinese medicine.PHOTO: COURTESY OF MANTA RAY OF HOPE

RAJA AMPAT (Indonesia) • In the province of West Papua, the islands of Waigeo, Batanta, Salawati and Misool rise out of the sea, the four kings of this north-east corner of the Indonesian archipelago.

But there is a fifth king that rules the islands of Raja Ampat underwater - the manta ray.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 01, 2018, with the headline 'Helping the eagles of the sea soar again'. Print Edition | Subscribe