In February of 2017, I traveled to Sumatra, Indonesia with Photographers Without Borders and a team of dedicated photographers to document conservation efforts. Since the 1980s, the vast majority of primary rainforest in Sumatra has been eliminated for agriculture and palm oil production. This fragile habitat is considered to be one of the most biologically diverse on the planet and is the only place where tigers, elephants, rhinos, and apes can be found in the same place. If nothing is done, it is expected that by 2030, all primary forest on Sumatra will disappear and the critically endangered Sumatran Orangutan will forever become extinct.
While in Sumatra, we partnered with National Geographic Explorer Panut Hadisiswoyo, his organization the Orangutan Information Center, and a new effort, the Sumatra Wildlife Sanctuary, spearheaded by him and Danielle da Silva (CEO of Photographers Without Borders). While the situation in Sumatra is desperate, it was inspiring to work with individuals who are devoting their lives towards making a difference.
The Sumatra Wildlife Sanctuary is currently purchasing land in a remote part of north Sumatra that will be protected and act as a stronghold for endangered species and rehabilitated animals that have been rescued. Palm oil companies are also trying to purchase this land, and time is tight. A fundraiser is currently being launched to to help purchase additional forest before it is destroyed by agricultural corporations.
This is still a developing story that will result in a few publications and a more detailed story here. Stay tuned for updates!