The 6th largest Island in the world, Sumatra is home to wildlife found no where else. It is truly a unique place, with a vibrant culture, stunning scenery and incredibly wildlife. Few places capture the imagination of adventurers and naturalists alike.
However, over the past 35 years, 50% of it’s rainforest has vanished, along with it many species of wildlife. Populations of flora and fauna have plummeted, resulting in many species being listed as endangered or critically endangered. Severe logging and poaching have left many parts of Sumatra devoid of wildlife. Where biodiverse and rich rainforest ecosystems once stood, palm oil plantations now stand. A crop which undoubtably provides many products which we consume, but at what cost?
Globally the view of Sumatra has turned more and more negative. Images of orangutan clinging onto remaining trees whilst the forest burns around it, tiger skins spread out for sale, songbirds caged up for pet trade. It’s a harrowing reality which the media focuses on creating the impression that all hope is lost. But all hope is NOT lost. Organisations and individuals are working endlessly to create positive change for Sumatra’s wildlife and habitats. This is the basis of the film ‘Conserving Sumatra’, showing the amazing stories of conservation and provide hope.
One of those individuals is 25 year old Pungky Nanda Pratama. Brought up on Java Island, Pungky grew up being inspired by the nature that surrounded him. Now living in Sumatra, Pungky is following his heart and working incredibly hard to educate, protect and conserve. Projects including the Jungle Library Project, Mangrove and Sea Turtle Project and his latest venture The Sumatra Camera Trap Project.
Issues facing the destruction of natural habitats is a global issue and is certainly nothing new. Ecosystems are being destroyed at an astounding rate. Water systems are being polluted, plastics fill the oceans and forests are being cleared. Human consumption is leading to a ever-growing demand for products, products which apparently can only occur once natural areas are removed.
In Sumatra this story is all but apparent. Half of its rainforest have been destroyed in the past 35 years. A rate so fast that by 2050 Sumatra could be rainforest-free. Often believed to be the only source of income, land owners are selling their land to survive and in turn palm oil plantations appear. A plant which can support very few species. Any animal that turns to palm oil to survive may very well be killed if it is deemed to impact on the yield.
The rainforests that remain are still under threat, not only from illegal logging, but from poaching also. For animals that use the forests as a refuge, their safety isn’t guaranteed. Animals poached for their meat, their fur and their ‘medicinal’ properties.
The destruction of habitat and poaching have resulted in many species being listed as vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered. Will we stay silent as these species are lost forever?
Thankfully there are many organisations and individuals working hard to stop the decline of habitat and wildlife populations. It’s an uphill struggle, but this does not deter them. One of these individuals is conservationist Pungky Nanda Pratama. Born in Java he was inspired by the natural world so much that now he is devoting his life to protecting it. He has set up many projects throughout his life and is now working on many different projects all at once.
One of the projects he is involved in is encouraging poachers to hang up their weapons and seek an alternative to earn money. Poachers are often perceived as being malicious, evil, animal killers. But this is not necessarily the case. Many poachers do what they do because they have no other means to earn money to feed them and their families. Some poor and remote areas have very little alternative for people to earn a living. Pungky works closely with them to stop their poaching and provide them with an alternative means of income.
Every day Pungky travels long distances to reach small schools where he can teach the children all about the natural world and why it is important to protect it. He set up The Jungle Library Project which teaches a comprehensive curriculum to indigenous children living in mega-biodiversity hotspots. By educating the next generation to protect the natural world, we can hope for a wilder future.
The documentary will cover the stories of various conservation projects occurring in Sumatra. It is these stories that will resonate with people all over the world. Resilience, passion and determination to make their Island, and the world a better place.
Not only will we be meeting with people who work to protect the land, but we will be spending time with those who have taken part in damaging activities (often illegal) such as poaching and logging. Their stories will help us understand why poaching and logging occurs, and what can be done to prevent it. By working alongside them, rather than against them, we can create a environment suitable to all people living in these rural areas.
Meet the Team
James Stevens – Filmmaker
James Stevens (JEGS Media) award-winning filmmaker, photographer, singer/songwriter and artist from Gloucestershire, United Kingdom. James has been inspired by the natural world from a very young age. His natural curiosity for nature developed into an aspiring career as a wildlife filmmaker. Tailoring his studies to best suit him for this career, he found himself studying Wildlife Media at the University of Cumbria where he further developed his skills.
Since graduating from University in 2016, James has focused most of his time learning about, and filming the wildlife up in the Scottish Highlands. The saying goes “if you can film wildlife in Scotland, you can film wildlife anywhere in the world” for Scotland’s wildlife boasts many challenges. The changeable weather, biting midges and weeks in hides have not deterred him. Not only does he continue to work in film and photography, but also guides Scottish wildlife holidays, taking guests all throughout Scotland in search of stunning animals.
James now has his sites set on international ventures. He has lined up projects in both Sumatra and Papua New Guinea and will set to complete the former this year. Being a one-man production team poses many challenges, but with the help of conservationist Pungky Nanda Pratama, the documentary will be of great success.
See his work here: www.jegsmedia.co.uk
Pungky Nanda Pratama – Conservationist
Pungky has been working for 4 years, actively involved in conservation projects since leaving university. The first conservation work that he undertook was as a volunteer, working on a mangrove and sea turtle project in his native East Java, more recently he has been employed as an Environmental Educator with a local NGO called Animals Indonesia.
In 2018, Pungky left his job to start his own project called The Jungle Library Project, which focuses on environmental education. The project is a collaboration with friends and is supported by the Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Agency of South Sumatra. The project takes place in two locations, Isau Isau Nature Reserve and Kerinci Seblat National Park. He is also involved in rescuing flora from illegal plant trafficking as part of the Flora Conservation Act.
Specialising in data storage, Silicon Power provided 20tb of memory for the documentary. The robust Armour A85 and A65 coped amazingly in the heat, humidity and rough conditions being carried around the rainforests of Sumatra. They are dust, drop and waterproof have fast read/write speeds. They also provided the Stream S06 for further backup. I highly recommend them for any media creative looking for robust data storage. Find out more www.silicon-power.com
Being in a rainforest, it was essential that I could keep my equipment safe and dry. CamRade specialise in waterproofing solutions for almost any camera. CamRade provided the waterproof cover for the Sony FS7. Testing in the UK beforehand, it worked really well keeping the camera dry whilst still fully operational. It was easy to get on and off. To keep your camera dry visit www.camrade.com
Staying in South Sumatra, I would occassionally be left in remote locations without electricity. Specialising in solar technology, Voltaic provided the Arc 20W solar panels with two V72 batteries. With a variety of different inputs, I could charge my laptop, phone and Sony. The system is easy to set up and position to get the most sunlight. A must for media creatives working in remote areas. See what they have at www.voltaicsystems.com
Vanguard specialises in nature equipment from tripods to scopes. They provided the Alta Sky 53 backpack which can hold multiple cameras, lenses, a laptop and still be able to strap extras to the outside such as tripods and drones. The tough, rugged bag withheld a lot of punishment from the sumatran rainforest and kept my kit safe and secure whilst very comfortable. The waterproof shell also kept it dry. Check out their products www.vanguardworld.co.uk