Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Working in Sumatra - huge thanks to the STCP

We spent a fortnight working together with the Sumatran Tiger Conservation Program. Having travelled up from Jakarta through West Java and via ferry to southern Sumatra, we then embarked on an uncomfortable but enjoyable journey - crammed like sardines amongst all our kit - that took us half way up the bumpy roads of Sumatra, interviewing people and filming wildlife and palm oil along the way. Finally we arrived in the beautiful natural forests that the Tiger Protection Units patrol. With the help of STCP we filmed elephants, gibbons, hornbills and a beautiful variety of Sumatran wildlife. This incredible biodiversity demonstrates all that is in jeopardy through the growth of palm oil - the mono-crop main character of the film - that is replacing these natural forests at a rapid rate throughout Sumatra and Kalimantan.

Evie filming confiscated skins, bones and teeth at STCP Field Station

We also spent valuable time on the oil-palm plantations whilst working in Sumatra. They're everywhere you look and hard to avoid. Even many private gardens house a mini nursery of palm oil saplings to sell. Wildlife conflict was in evidence wherever we went. Simpai (leaf monkeys) in stranded tree stands deep within oil palm plantations, elephant damage in the plantations where they had been driven out of their forests by the illegal loggers (able to penetrate the valuable timber forests), unusual pets found in the plantation tethered up round every corner.

Nick with field coordinator Pak Yunus (left) and some members of the TPUs

We would like to thank Pak Waldemar, Pak Daniel, Pak Yunus and Pak Neil, along with all the dedicated members of the Sumatran Tiger Conservation Program and their Tiger Protection Units for their immense help and good humour whilst we were shooting with them in Sumatra. Thanks to their shared enthusiasm for the project we managed to shoot a huge amount of great material that will be invaluable in telling the palm oil story. Please visit the site of the Sumatran Tiger Conservation Program - the work they are doing is incredibly important, and they are tirelessly committed in their efforts to protect the critically endangered Sumatran Tiger. They deserve our support.

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