Conserving the jungle

During my holiday I chose to do something with my life and volunteered in Indonesia. Of course, Indonesia was an easy choice to make because the Netherlands colonized it from 1816 till 1949. I helped with a local NGO (Non-Governmental Organisation) named ‘Stay Wild-tiger protection trust’ in Batu Katak, North-Sumatra. The main goal of the NGO is to ensure the survival of the Sumatran tiger and the whole ecosystem in the park Gunung Leuser. Not only the Sumatran tiger is an endangered species but also the Sumatran orangutan, Sumatran elephant, Sumatran rhino and the Sunda pangolin.  

To maintain the parks where these endangered species live it is necessary to talk to the land owners, the hunters and other people who want to make money out of the benefits the jungle gives them. Most of the land owners have rubber or palm oil plantations: a lot of trees are needed for both so the land owners can get a profit to support their families. A wide variety of species live in these plantations but the actions of owners who are trying to protect their land are disastrous for the animals. Some owners catch birds or other animals and put them up for sale. Most birds don’t even survive a few days in a cage. Other animals like pangolins are very valuable for their flesh and skulls, which are used in traditional medicine. Not only the locals are the bad guys but also many tourists are at the wrong end. For example, many tourists want to feed the apes. We are carrying diseases that wouldn’t do us harm but a lot of orangutans could get sick or even die.  

For the conservation of the jungle the organisation Stay Wild talks with land owners and other people about the importance of the Gunung Leuser ecosystem. They also educate on other options to make money without involving harming the animals. One family first had a rubber plantation but switched to retaining beehives with the help of Stay Wild. They also teach the locals English and educates them about the importance of the jungle and why to preserve it. All those little things Stay Wild does help to conserve the ecosystem in the Gunung Leuser park. Three weeks of my life I will never forget. 

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