At the north-end of Jatiluhur Dam, Purwakarta, lush trees at the foothill of Mount Lembu that descends to the giant reservoir makes perfect habitat for bird and lizard.
Shading between the trunks and wriggling roots, these animals once in a while appear to seek food and water, and that is precisely when the danger awaits them.
From the opposite distance, the men on the hovering motorboat set watchful eyes with air rifles pointed forward in search of animal sightings. This place, after all, is not a natural reserves. No one was reserved about killing beings.
The hunting frenzy in surrounding area has become a popular holiday purpose for hobbyists from nearby big cities such as Jakarta and Bandung, riding their spiky 4-wheel vehicles with excessive light sources at the top in front of the modified freestand single seat.
Purwakarta is not known to have any forest in protection, and the remaining wilderness is of negligible wildlife variety, insomuch that one can find an abundance of natural habitat in Purwakarta open for public every day promoted as eco-tourism destination.
Herons are prized in this area for their beauty and for their relatively sheer numbers, so told by the locals. The easy access to their living habitat through the giant reservoir, built as a part of Jatiluhur Dam, the oldest and remain as the biggest one in the country up to current date, makes them easy prey even among novice with their fancy gears.
Having meticulously observed what might be behind the outermost layer of treetops through telescope, the hunters under the warm afternoon sun were desperate to catch a tiny movement.
Just when one thought that there was nothing in there, a random shot scared a pair of herons away and they flew over the discontented faces who watched them disappeared to the far horizon.
The pack of hunters on the drifting boat realised that they would have to let go of them and focus on other sitting preys. There were still many left to shoot at, but they got nothing until sun set.
Jatiluhur Dam took a total area of 8,300 hectares in Purwakarta, having played a vital role in watering over 242,000 hectares of agricultural field, producing 187 megawatt electricity for the region from 6 turbines, preventing flood on wet season and drought on dry season.
Local government’s initiative to clamp down on the excess of fishing activities-many had trespassed into the turbines zone-and unruly settlement on the embankment, has taken place in the past several months. Click to read The village in a reservoir.