Thursday, July 21, 2005

Danau Sembuluh and Tanjung Puting

We're now about half way through our time filming here in Kalimantan and things are progressing very well. Tomorrow we are filming interviews with the local people living in the villages surrounding Danau Sembuluh. We've been fortunate enough to find contacts in WWF and Wahli here in Palangkaraya who know the local dialect and will beable to act as both translators and interviewers. A lot of new concessions for plantations in the area are currently being processed, and the villagers will in all probability lose all their land rights and so too their current means of subsistence. Of course, the destructive effect of the spread of palm oil on the local population is no less devastating than its effect on the environment, and this will be a primary focus in the film.

We are then visiting the Tanjung Puting National Park. This was for many years the only area granted national park status in Central Kalimantan, and was made famous through the work of Birute Galdikas, one of the original three "big name" female primatologists who worked under the tutelage of Louis Leakey, together with Dian Fossey and Jane Goodhall. Sadly, the borders of Tanjung Puting, which houses not only orangutan but also large populations of proboscis monkeys, slow lorises, sun bears, leaf monkeys, tarsiers, hornbills and more are now being lost to the incursion of the palm oil plantations. Through a legal loophole, three different palm oil conglomerates have recently been granted concessions for plantations which intrude a mile into the Eastern border of the national park land itself. Tanjung Puting is world famous due to the diversity and rarity of the species which inhabit it. We plan to film some of the logging sites which are already destroying large areas of this precious habitat.

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