April 25, 2019

New photos from home of cohabitating key wildlife species

JAKARTA ( - To coincide with international Earth Day this year (Apr 22), the team has documented some key parts of the Leuser Ecosystem, the only place on earth where Sumatran orangutans, tigers, elephants and rhinos co-exist in a single ecosystem.

The Rawa Singkil wildlife reserve, a compact ecosystem covering an area greater in size than Singapore, is located in the south of Aceh province and forms one of the world’s last strongholds for some key, critically-endangered wildlife species.  

Efforts to protect this wildlife reserve are by no means a new development. On the contrary, they have been going on for a long time and continue to this day in this peat forest landscape spanning the equivalent of over 81 thousand soccer fields. 

The following photos show how the peat swamp forests which dominate almost all of this globally unique wildlife reserve remain intact and continue to serve as a large home for Sumatran orangutans, tigers, elephants and rhinos.   

Indonesia’s bold efforts

As reported earlier by (Apr 22), the day the photos above were taken, a spatial analysis from Jakarta-based forestry research group Greenomics Indonesia revealed that more than 90% of the Rawa Singkil wildlife reserve is still intact.

We should, of course, be grateful that this wildlife reserve remains almost entirely intact and well protected amid persistent ongoing threats against it.

Furthermore, while debate around the contentious issue of palm oil-linked deforestation practices from 2008-2015 continues to swirl in the wake of the recent adoption of the EU Delegated Act, the global public also deserves to see the other side of the story, including Indonesia's bold efforts to protect this wildlife reserve. 

Forward thinking required

In this case, a forward-looking approach is essential to ensure that protection efforts continue to take place, including in the Rawa Singkil wildlife reserve which constitutes a core part of the Leuser Ecosystem.

The EU, for one, which has invested a substantial amount of money and has a long-term engagement with protection efforts in the Leuser Ecosystem needs to think ahead.  

The EU delegated act is a matter for the EU itself, but it also has great relevance in terms of its potential impact on the only place on earth where so many diverse and endangered wildlife species cohabitate. 

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has taken a tough stance towards the EU delegated act, as detailed in his joint letter with Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad which mentions that relations with the EU as a whole would be reviewed should the EU delegated act take force. 

The words “as a whole” in the joint letter most certainly pertain to a potential review of the EU's decades-long engagement in the Leuser Ecosystem.  

Whatever the forthcoming final decision is regarding the EU delegated act and what steps the Indonesian government takes in response to it, as well as how it affects the EU's long-standing engagement in the Leuser Ecosystem, this case will certainly serve as an unforgettable lesson learned.