“”Lembata is the island where people still hunt whales in the traditional way of their ancestors, with a man jumping on the whale with a traditional harpoon that he thrusts into the whale. One realizes immediately that the village of Lamalera on Lembata is a place that is connected to whale hunting, for the entrance to the village is an archway of whale bones created from the whales that their man hunted in the past.
In the village of Lamalera, whaling has been a cultural tradition for over 500 years. It is thought that originally the ancestors of the people of Lamalera came from South Sulawesi in about 1500 CE. They were skilled sailors and hunters who gradually adjusted their hunting and fishing skills in order to be able to hunt whales.
The whale hunters go out in sail boat known as paledang. The harpooner who is known as the lama fa is the one to thrust his harpoon into the whale. There are ancient rules with regard to whale hunting still followed. For example, they only hunt the sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) or "koteklema". They will not hunt the blue whales as they used to do in the village of Lamakera on the nearby island of Solor. Another species of whale that they hunt is the short-finned pilot whale (Globicephala macrorhynchus). Beside whales, Lamalerans also hunt dolphins such as the spinner dolphin (Stenella longirostris) as well as killer whales or orcas.
At first, international organization demanded Lamalerans also cease whale hunting. So, the Lamalerans invited international environmental agencies such as WWF and Greenpeace to come to their village to discuss and witness their whale hunting. The end result was the International Whaling Commission has categorized Lamalera whaling as traditional whaling, which is not banned internationally.
An important factor that they took into consideration is that the number of whales killed by the men of Lamalera is extremely small, just enough to feed their people. Furthermore, in Lamalera, whales are not and have never been killed commercially to sell. Strangely nevertheless, Lamalera whaling is still banned in Indonesia, for the government has not yet issued the necessary regulations that define "traditional hunting". It also does not have the capacity to calculate the Potential Biological Removal (PBR) threats. However, it is a ban that the government finds not really enforceable as the people of Lamalera simply continue to hunt whales which they consume for food.Lamakera has a connection with the village of Lamalera. In Lamakera, they also once hunted whales, but here they used to hunt the blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus). But, in Lamakera, however, the government has been more effective in prohibiting whaling. The last reported kill was in 2021, where the whale was consumed. Before that, there had been no whaling since 2015. Now, Lamakera is known more for catching manta rays (Manta birostris), sharks and dolphins, although such activities have also become far less due to government prohibitions and arrests. Now, most of the old whale hunters apparently work on trawlers.
|— Tamalia Alisjahbana (2023) "Flores and surrounding islands at Easter : Part IV - Lembata and Solor, whaling and cannons" Independent Observer Vol 06 No 267