An unusually long and hot dry season is currently challenging the Harapan Rainforest team. Logged forest quickly dries out and becomes prone to fire.
Our long-term strategy is to restore the forest as quickly as possible - to re-establish the forest canopy, creating a cool and moist microclimate that is less susceptible to burning. This will take some time, though work has already started, and we are already seeing good regeneration across the site.
What we are doing immediately is to simply keep fire out, and for that we have put together two fire-fighting rapid response teams, with seven members each. They have been trained and fully equipped. This year they have tackled and successfully dealt with more than 50 fires, often on the immediate boundary of the area, where burning is the traditional way to clear land.
Never thought I’d hear myself say it, but let’s hope it starts raining soon!
A shocking report from Sumatra reminds me how important Harapan Rainforest is for tigers. In late August, a female tiger in Jambi zoo (less than three hours from Harapan Rainforest) was killed by poachers. They broke in to the zoo at night, poisoned her, and took her skin and body parts to presumably be sold abroad. Jambi is close to Singapore, and from there it is easy to access the lucrative traditional medicine markets throughout east Asia. Her skin will fetch around £600, a tooth £40, a piece of whisker £8-18 and a rib £15. This is the third such incident in zoos across Indonesia in the last four months.
It reminds us how important Harapan Rainforest is in providing a haven for some of the last of the 300-500 Sumatran tigers in the wild, but also of our challenge in securing that haven against an increasingly ruthless trade in tiger parts (and those from other important wildlife). Of course, the real tragedy is that wildlife body parts are totally ineffective in treating any ailment, and the deaths are always completely in vain.
In an earlier post, we mentioned the visit to Harapan Rainforest by Tony Whitten - senior biodiversity specialist at the World Bank.
As well as his brief clip of a passing sun bear, Tony caught on film the evocative 'great call' of the agile gibbon, which is a duet, with the female accompanied by the male. He also got shots of the family of four swinging their way through the tree canopy with ease. So sit back, turn the volume up, and immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of the rainforest.
For more great shots of the animals found in Harapan Rainforest, check out our campaign video.