Success at Soraya Station
In 2016, international film star, Leonardo DiCaprio gave unprecedented attention to the work of Dr. Rudi Putra’s Forum Konservasi Leuser (FKL) at Soraya Station in Sumatra. DiCaprio was making a National Geographic documentary on climate change, and was persuaded to tour the Leuser Ecosystem. The exposure for the conservation work being done in Leuser by Dr. Putra, the FKL Rangers, and the Rare Species Fund (RSF) was priceless.
Since 2016, the Rare Species Fund has been assisting Dr. Putra to do the grueling daily work of conservation in the daunting Leuser Ecosystem. RSF contributions to Forum Konservasi Leuser have completely rebuilt the Soraya Station— a research and ranger outpost deep in the Leuser. We also outfitted a team of Wildlife Protection Rangers, and helped to buy back land from small palm oil farmers— restoring the area to its natural state by cutting down non-native palm oil trees, and replanting native plants. In this way we have been able reclaim critical habitat, and protect it for the many critically endangered species that call the Leuser Ecosystem home.
Your funding [RSF] is very important for maintaining our activities in Soraya Station…
—Dr. Rudi Putra, Forum Konservasi Leuser
Dr. Putra and his team of rangers do heroic work to protect the unique flora and fauna in and around Leuser. Because of the omnipresent threat of poaching, and illegal slash and burn logging, the work is done under extremely dangerous conditions. Wildfire and armed gun-thugs make every day in the bush a journey into the heart of darkness. However, since Soraya Station has become operational again, scientific research has been given a safe haven and base of operations. FKL rangers have begun regular patrols of the area— and as a result, poaching and illegal logging is down by an astonishing 90%! A recent scientific survey and report from Dr. Putra, details the conservation success achieved through the partnership between RSF and FKL.
Partnership— Rare Species Fund and Forum Konservasi Leuser
- RSF provided 100% of the funding to rebuild the Soraya Station Research and Ranger Outpost.
- RSF equips and pays 32 Forum Konservasi Leuser (FKL) Rangers.
- RSF provides funding to buy back and restore habitat for endangered tigers, orangutans, elephants, rhinos and bears to be held in trust for Mount Leuser National Park.
- Poaching down 90% since RSF funded FKL Rangers have been deployed.
- Dr. Rudi Putra received the Goldman Prize for work dismantling illegal palm oil plantations.
What is the 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, elephants and bears. 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.
Leuser Ecosystem Highlights
- Leuser Ecosystem is over 6 million acres, three times the size of Yellowstone.
- Established by Indonesian Presidential Decree in 1998, the Gunung Leuser 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.
- Approximately 120 Sumatran tigers in Leuser – IUCN Red List – Critically Endangered.
- Sumatran rhinos are at the brink of extinction. Approximately 90 in Leuser– IUCN Red List – Critically Endangered.
How RSF Inspires Conservation
Having been featured in popular media such as PBS and National Geographic documentaries, children’s books, music videos and feature films, RSF Animal Ambassadors have attained celebrity status. Their high profile and charisma have inspired millions of Americans to take a greater interest in conserving rare and endangered species in places like the Leuser Ecosystem in Sumatra, Indonesia.
Without interest generated by the cutting edge, interactive wildlife programs at TIGERS Myrtle Beach Safari, the funding that has contributed to the success of Dr. Putra and FKL would not be possible. Today we can claim victory in the battle waged for critically endangered species in the fragile Leuser Ecosystem— an ongoing battle being fought by Dr. Rudi Putra, the dedicated Wildlife Protection Rangers of Forum Konservasi Leuser, and the Rare Species Fund.