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Rudi Putra dalam(2)

Dr. Rudi Putra, founder Forum Konservasi Leuser (FKL)— Sumatra, Indonesia

As you may be aware, the Rare Species Fund is providing funding to Dr. Rudi Putra and his conservation organization the Forum Konservasi Leuser (FKL) to rebuild the Soraya Research and Ranger Station in the Leuser ecosystem of Sumatra— and to equip and pay 24 FKL rangers to stop poaching in the area. Dr. Putra and his team of rangers have done amazing work, under dangerous conditions, with remarkable success— and on a shoestring budget.

The Threat
The Rare Species Fund has been working with the Forum Konservasi Leuser to help conserve vast regions of primary forest. A primary threat to the forest environment is the massive expansion of palm oil plantations into wild territories. The expansion of illegal palm oil trees is a primary reason for loss of habitat for endangered species in Indonesia. Illegal logging provides hard woods for the black market, and these trees are often replaced with planted palm oil trees, which double the profits of those ignoring national park boundaries.

FKL Rangers

Dr. Rudi Putra leads FKL Rangers into the bush to remove snares from Leuser ecosystem

Leuser Ecosystem
The Leuser ecosystem is a system of forests situated on the northern side of the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Approximately 6 million acres in size, this forest is the only place in the world that is home to tigers, orangutans, rhinos and elephants. Leuser was designated as a national forest by the Indonesian government. National Parks are monitored and patrolled by government employed rangers, but National Forests, while “officially” protected, are largely unmonitored by government officials. The same is true for Leuser. The massive expanses of forest are “by law” protected from hunting and timber cutting, but enforcement is typically lacking. Since FKL rangers have begun regular patrols, poaching and illegal logging is down by 90%.

Leuser Ecosystem Highlights:

  • Leuser Ecosystem is over 6 million acres, three times the size of Yellowstone.
  • Established by Indonesian Presidential Decree in 1998, the core national park (1.5 million acres) was established by Decree of the Ministry of Forestry in 1997.
  • Most intact wildlife habitat of high biodiversity and mega fauna in Asia.
  • Less than 400 Sumatran Tigers are left in the world, the majority are in Leuser – IUCN Red List – Critically Endangered.
  • Sumatra has experienced nearly total forest loss and decimation of wildlife habitat.
  • Sumatra fires are the sources of the Southeast Asia Haze pollution causing $100s of millions in economic losses and health issues annually.

Rare Species Fund Sponsorship
RSF has been a primary benefactor donating approximately $120,000US in financial support and equipment to FKL. Now we are proud to help FKL buy land from small palm oil farmers proximate to the National Forest, and restore it to it’s natural state by cutting down non-native palm oil trees and replanting native plants. In this way we can reclaim critical habitat, hectare by hectare, for the many critically endangered species that call the Leuser ecosystem home.

This spring, RSF sent FKL almost $30,000US to fund ranger activities, purchase several hectares around Soraya Station, and to build a new nursery in the front of the station to grow plants and trees for restoration work. Nearby, in the Singkil swamp forest we finished 70 hectares of forest restoration work, cutting down illegal palm oil trees. In Tamiang and Kutacanerestore, FKL rangers cut down hundreds of hectares of illegal palm oil trees, in preparation for restoration.

This summer RSF will be sponsoring a fundraiser to raise capital for additional land purchase and restoration— in order to recover critical habitat for tigers, orangutans and other critically endangered species. RSF will match fund donations up to $25,000US. We commit to $10,000US no matter how much is raised. However, we would be thrilled if we could send a check for $50,000US to Dr. Putra and the FKL rangers for their diligent work!

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The Rare Species Fund team, from left to right, Robert Johnson, Moksha Bybee and Doc Antle — ©Doc Antle