This past October I was given the incredible opportunity to go to Sumatra Indonesia with a professor of mine, Dr. Merav Ben-David. This opportunity came from a seemingly brief interaction, a 5-minute presentation I gave at The Wyoming Wildlife Society’s annual conference about my involvement with palm oil conservation. Since the age of 11 (over 10 years now!) I have been learning about palm oil, and more importantly educating members of my community both on the deforestation occurring due to palm oil plantation growth, and more importantly how we can make an impact on conservation around the world in our daily choices at the grocery store. I have given countless talks about palm oil to middle schoolers, zoo guests, zoo staff and volunteers, and conferences, and these talks ended up giving me the chance to have the experience of a lifetime. These palm oil talks fostered my love for the wildlife species of Indonesia, including the orangutan.
For our last 10 days in Sumatra, we were able to travel to North Sumatra and meet with members of the Sustainable Green Sumatra Foundation, which is a conservation organization that The Orang Utan Republik Foundation supports. I have been volunteering with OURF for over a year now, so I knew that I had to visit some of the conservation projects they support. To say this part of our trip was incredible was an understatement, from meeting with community members and visiting their sustainable gardens to seeing how the organization supports members of the community with livestock loss from tiger conflicts and fruit loss from primates. This organization is very involved with the community, which is incredibly conservation-minded, and being able to share ideas and interact with those directly working for conservation in their community was incredible. I learned so much about international conservation and their culture and knowledge of the land and the wildlife.
Lindsey (second from the right) poses with young students in one of the villages where Sustainable Green Sumatra Foundation operates.
We also were able to attend local schools and share stories about conservation with the kids from the community. We had a great time sharing about animals from our own homes, and talking about how important conservation is all over the world! I learned a lot from these kids, and I found it inspiring how excited they were to learn about our animals and to talk about the animals in their backyard. I am sure there are a few of them who will be incredible future conservationists.
For the last few days in North Sumatra, we went to Gunung Leuser National Park and we were able to see orangutans, rhinoceros hornbills, leaf monkeys, and more, and to think that these species are all at risk of extinction is devastating.
Lindsey photographed this majestic adult female Sumatran orangutan and her baby resting safely in Mount Leuser National Park.
Being surrounded by people who were passionate about the preservation of these species was awe-inspiring, and being able to share insight and resources with members of the team and the community was a fantastic experience. I can not thank the Sustainable Green Sumatra Foundation enough for their kindness and all that they are doing for Sumatra, and I am thankful to be involved with an organization that is passionate about preserving and conserving the habitats of the incredible species of Indonesia.