The Magepanda mangrove forest is located in Reroroja Village, Magepanda District, Sikka Regency in Nusa Tenggara Timur. This 70-hectare forest holds a million beauty. The forest is flanked by lush green hills located on the north coast of Maumere town.
Uniquely, to the west of this forest, there is a beautiful green hill. If the hill is observed like resembling hill on a series of children cartoon who often aired on television, namely Teletubbies so it is called the hill Teletubbies by the visitors.
In addition to the uniqueness, mangrove forest is also equipped with a bamboo bridge of 450 meters length. This tourist attraction is also equipped with two lopo ( Traditional house ) in the middle of the forest and two other by the beach. This area has one monitoring tower so that visitors can enjoy the beautiful panorama of mangrove forest and nature around from 50 meters high.
As you walk along the bamboo bridge in the Magepanda mangrove forest in the morning or afternoon, the coolness and freshness of the oxygen generated by millions of mangrove plants are so noticeable. Such beauty seems to detain you to stay longer in this tourist attraction.
After you enjoy the cool mangrove forest, at the end of the bridge you will be surprised and amazed to see the beauty of the beach with a stretch of white sand decorated with green mangrove plants.
There are several benches lined up under a mangrove tree made of bamboo. Specially prepared for the visitors who want to simply rest while enjoying the beautiful mangrove forest of Magepanda.
To reach the location of this mangrove forest attraction, you have to travel about 30 kilometers from downtown Maumere. While on the trip you will be treated to a view that is as beautiful as verdant hills, fertile rice fields, and blue sea will accompany you along the journey to arrive at this mangrove forest attraction.
Apparently, this mangrove forest planter is done by an old grandfather of Chinese descent, Victor Emanuel Rayon aka baba Kong. Currently, Baba Kong who manages Magepanda mangrove forest.
Baba Kong recounts the motivation to grow mangrove crops since 1993 after the devastating tsunami disaster of Sikka District in 1992.
“At that time all my father’s possessions, houses, shops and many people died, which is why you think you should plant mangroves so that in case of tsunami again at least these trees can protect us,” said Baba Kong.
When he and his wife began to look for seeds of mangrove plants and then planted then sailed along the coast, local people think this couple is crazy. However, his love for the environment makes him keep continue to plant mangrove plants.
“People laughed at us because we are planting mangroves, why we did not plant banana trees or coconut trees, we can not eat mangroves, but we did not care because our goal was to save the environment,” Baba Kong said.
Time passed as the growth of mangroves planted by Baba Kong. In the end, the initially arid and hot coastal edges are now green and cool by the mangroves tree.
Baba Kong’s persistence and earnestness planted and cared for mangrove plants were heard up to the Minister of Environment of the Republic of Indonesia. In 2008 and 2009, Baba Kong was awarded the Pioneer of Environment and was awarded Kalpataru as the Environment Pioneer by the 6th President of the Republic of Indonesia, Mr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
“When I plant mangroves, I do not expect to get any appreciation, but all I have in mind is just how to save the environment,” said the man who is familiarly called Baba Kong who has dedicated his life to plant and care for mangrove plants for 24 years.
Despite his older age, the spirit of Baba Kong never subsided. Currently, he continues to plant the seeds of mangrove plants to be distributed to people who want to plant mangrove plants. Hopefully, what is done by Baba Kong make this Magepanda Mangrove Forest an inspiration to keep and can green the other side of the coast.