Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Jakarta and Meetings

A Journal Entry from our team:
We spent one day in Jakarta having two important meetings, one with The Nature Conservancy (TCN) and one with the RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil). The RSPO meeting helped us understand more thoroughly the challenges and successes they have experienced. TNC has some interesting projects that are helping with orangutan conservation. We went to a nice mall and it was awesome to see a Baskin Robbins (we are getting a little homesick) which we enjoyed after our Indonesian lunch.

The city of Jakarta has a population of 9.5 million. It is sprawling and huge. The downtown area is modern, the outskirts seem very poverty –stricken. The overcrowding and conditions people are living in is eye-opening. It makes the average American home seem like a palace.

Next we flew to Pontianak and on to our destination of Ketapang. The flight to Ketapang was a little scary. Before we took off 9 people kept trying to fix the plane’s propeller. When they apparently fixed it, the mechanic went on the flight with us, and then he rushed out to examine it when we landed.

Our reason for going to the towns of Ketapang and Sukadana was to spend time with Yayasun Palung, an NGO (non-governmental organization) in west Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo). Mayi, Tito, Wendi and Wiwid explained to us about the projects they’re working on. We later visited their education center in Sukadana. They show local people some of the unique and special trees and plants found in the rainforest. They have also conducted classes to train local people how to make furniture out of bamboo (see photo below). This is a sustainable way to help them make a living. Yayasun Palung had also set up numerous meetings for us.

We also met with IAR (International Animal Rescue). This organization rescues and rehabilitates all sorts of animals from sun bears and lorises to orangutans. They see the worst of what is happening in Indonesia. The following example was very disturbing for us to see – the reality of what many orangutans are facing. A female orangutan had been wandering around a palm oil plantation (one that is not a member of RSPO) and was attacked by people there. Her hand was sliced with a machete and her baby was taken from her. Two weeks later (about two days before we arrived in Ketapang) she was found wandering again and was beaten by the people. She received a bad wound to the back of her head and was locked in a bathroom. IAR was called to rescue her and unfortunately she died an hour after rescuers arrived. During her necropsy they found that she was a lactating mother, so the search was on to find the baby. A tip came in that the baby was in a private home, so IAR located and confiscated the baby. We briefly saw the infant, he was in critical condition and he may not survive. Below is a photo of him. We hope that he makes it.

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