I was thrilled when, whilst walking a regular mammal survey transect line, rustling in some undergrowth turned out to be an adult female Malayan sun bear.
I was even more excited when a few moments later, the bear’s young cub came sliding down a nearby macaranga tree, pausing long enough for me to get some great photos before joining his mother and disappearing into the forest. Formerly widespread across much of Asia, the Malayan sun bear is now becoming very rare because of habit loss and fragmentation. Sun bears are normally solitary animals and so to see two together was a very rare and exciting experience and helps to illustrate the unique nature of Harapan Rainforest and its importance for conserving all types of biodiversity in Indonesia.
Today I was privileged to watch as some of Harapan Rainforest's Bathin Sembilan indigenous community processed the first three tonnes of rattan harvested from Harapan Rainforest. The community is hoping to earn 5-6,000 rupiah (30-40p) per kilo of rattan sold into the commercial market.
Rattan is the stems of a climbing palm and will be familiar to people in the West as the material used in ‘cane’ furniture. I was impressed by their skill in stripping the canes of their vicious thorns and binding them into bundles for transport. Properly done, rattan extraction is far less environmentally damaging than logging. Let's hope the Bathin Sembilan can get a good price at market, and that rattan collection can help towards guaranteeing sustainable livelihoods for them.