Protecting communities and wildlife of North Sumatra
Our Community Ranger Program, supported by Project Wings, aims to protect the rare and endangered fauna and flora of the Batu Kapal buffer zone and to reduce human-wildlife conflict through peaceful and sustainable solutions.
Covering over 2.6 million hectares, the Leuser Ecosystem is one of the richest areas of tropical biodiversity in Southeast Asia, as well as being the last place on earth to find the Sumatran tiger, rhino, elephant and Orangutan in one place.
Facing an ever increasing threat from poaching and habitat destruction, there has never been greater urgency to increase protection of these magnificent species.
Our Community Ranger Program was established in 2019 to protect this critical wildlife buffer zone adjacent to the UNESCO Gunung Leuser National Park. It is a community-based ranger program, run by a group of dedicated local people who are passionate about nature and protecting the Sumatran rainforest. Through daily patrols, social and educational programs, and conflict mitigation, they protect this crucial ecosystem with its unique species, which could mean the difference between their extinction and survival. They empower local communities to protect nature and reduce human-wildlife conflict in the buffer zone.
The key aims of the program are to:
The work of our Ranger team can be grouped into three main areas: wildlife patrol, socialisation sessions, and conflict mitigation.
The team patrols and monitors the area of the buffer zone every other day. The patrol area covers Bukit Lawang, Batu Kapal, Selang Pangeran through to Simolap, an area of approximately 250 km2.
On patrols, rangers move across the buffer zone near farmlands, where there is a lot of human activity, and where people and wildlife interact. They remove traps and snares, and check for any illegal hunting and poaching activities.
They speak to local farmers and explain how to prevent conflict with wildlife and how to protect their livestock and farmland from wild animals, including orangutans, tigers, as well as wild pigs and monkeys. They give fireworks to farmers to scare off wild animals and show them various ways they can protect their fruit trees and crops.
The team also monitors wildlife during patrols and sets up camera traps around the area to capture videos which are critical sources of information to understand animal behaviour and develop strategies to mitigate conflict.
Every month, rangers meet with the head of each village and local community to conduct socialization sessions. The purpose of these meetings is to educate the local people and school students about the importance of nature and the ways to protect it. These programs are key to our work as they help change people’s attitudes to wildlife and make them realise its value.
Rangers also assist with peaceful solutions for human-wildlife conflict situations. For example, they provide education on why snares are illegal and the consequences if caught by or reported to forest police. They also establish points of contact in each community to call rangers when there is wildlife conflict.
Together with local people and farmers, we look for peaceful and sustainable solutions to reduce human-wildlife conflict.
There is a lot of farming activity in the buffer zone, which attracts wild animals. Farmers let their cows and sheep roam free without supervision, which invites tigers and other predators to attack the livestock. It’s also common for orangutans and other wildlife to raid farmer crops and fruit trees, particularly during the durian season in Autumn.
As part of our Durians for Orangutans project, rangers teach farmers how to protect their trees so that orangutans cannot climb them. And if it’s too late, we compensate farmers for their lost fruits.
The ranger team explains to people how to look after their livestock and with the support of Project Wings provides them with corrals. The team tries to change the mindset of local people, so they corral their livestock during the night, and supervise it the during the day.
The team also stands ready to help resolve any conflict that may arise. Their only weapon is fireworks, which they use to scare the animals away.
Over 80% of orangutans live in unprotected forests. This puts them at an even greater risk of extinction since their forest habitat can be destroyed by the encroaching settlement, logging concessions, plantations and mining.
Please support our program to help save the orangutan as well as the livelihoods of local farmers.