My trip to Sumatra
I would like to thank the Go Beyond Haze Organisation for taking me on a magnificent 3 day trip to Bukit Lawang, in Sumatra Indonesia.
From the Medan airport we hopped into a van and started our longer 4hr journey on the bumpy, muddy and blocked roads of Indonesia. As we headed towards the Ecolodge Hotel, I saw palm oil plantations covering massive acres of land. Cranes were picking logs and clearing forests. Suddenly I was hit by the smell of smoke entering the car. It gave me the chills, as I imagined the amount of forests that have been wiped out and the habitat lost, in order to cater to our demand for palm oil in products.
Half way through the car ride from the airport, we stopped at the SOCP (Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme) Orangutan Haven. Two Project Members, who come from different parts of the world, from across the world guided us into the forests, and talked about their love
of this cause. They explained that the SOCP aims to rescue illegally captured Orangutans, monitor the remaining wildlife population, conservate the Orangutans, research the ecology of Orangutans, and most importantly, spreads awareness. We went on a small hike through the community trails, walked in rivers to look at the 48 hectares of land provided for the abused Orangutans. Currently there arn’t any Orangutans in this Centre as it is under construction, however in a couple of year’s time I plan on going back to see this finished Haven.
On the Second Day, the Bukit Lawing National Park Rangers took us on a fascinating trek in the National Park. We walked on the leaf carpeted pathway towards the almond brown Forest. In the jungle I held onto moss infested trees to climb up the big rocks. Walking silently and hearing the leaves crackle underneath us. We recognised the rich indigenous biodiversity, and identified the various luminous petals. We learnt about the local community in Sumatra Indonesia and how some of these plants are used un herbal remedy. As we climbed upwards through the moist forest, we suddenly saw a mother Orangutan holding her baby closely. While the Mother was plucking leaves, the baby Orangutan rolled around in the mud before swinging into the dense trees. I took a burst of photos on my Canon camera, trying to get closer to examine these beautiful creatures I hadn't seen in the wild before. This was truly jaw dropping to see these flocculent orange haired endangered animals. During that point of time, I thought to myself that it was our responsibility to help save their habitats and give them what they deserve.
After a delicious lunch in the river, we went to a Bat Cave, where we climbed around rocks. We squeezed our way through the tight gaps and heard the bats squeal around us, and then broke out to the sunlight and walked underneath waterfalls. From there we walked back to our hotels, packed up our bags, ready for the lengthy car ride back to the airport.
Overall, this was a once in a life time experience. Before going to Sumatra, the only way I could understand about palm Oil and rainforests was to read articles online and on newspapers. However, now I have a much deeper and better understanding. This hands on adventure has made myself much more passionate about my project. My trip to Sumatra has sparked more ideas, and will invigorate me to help spread my message to everyone. I now have a better insight to this problem and hence, I need your support to help end SouthEast Asia’s most pressing and environmental issue! Join the Campaign, by Signing the Pledge to use Sustainable Palm Oil Products!