Endangered animals aplenty

This morning, like every other morning, afternoon and evening, my skin glistens with (and reeks of) DEET containing insect repellent – ‘eau de jungle’ as it’s been unaffectionatly referred to.

Two muddy Indonesian coffees into the day and still I can’t get over the experience of last night.

Thirty or so meters from our camp is a small house, maybe 4m by 5m, in which dwells a small family unit. One of it’s residents – a young man, fit and strong – has certainly proved himself in our eyes to be a highly skilled hunter. Since I arrived a week ago he has trapped four
amazing endangered creatures.

The first two were small cats – one we believe to be a highly endangered ‘flat headed cat’ which has excited the international scientific community, is due to be dug up from it’s resting place
AGAIN today, it’s body destined to be shipped off for examination and analysis by researchers. The other we believe is a ‘golden cat’ a small, beautiful animal which survived it’s initial trapping.

We treated it’s wounds, nursed it back to health and released it back into the jungle.

Yesterday a small, strange looking animal called a ‘kancil’ in the local tongue and loosely referred to as a deer (tragulus javanicus to the scientific community) was trapped – a pregnant female – and destined to be dinner for the family. Deciding it was no doubt highly valuable to the region’s biodiversity we purchased it for 30000 rupiah (about AUD$4), treated it’s wound, gave it food and water, placed it on some cardboard in one of our storage rooms and hoped for the best.
unfortunately the best was not to be realised, it’s wound too severe – it died quietly in the late afternoon.

Then last night, perhaps as a further display of his hunting prowess or perhaps in an attempt to satisfy the curiosity we’ve displayed in the creatures of the Sumatran jungle, bound by it’s ankles on a long pole, a sun bear was carried into our camp. A beautiful animal; breathing rapidly, fear in it’s eyes and no doubt in pain due to the wound in one ankle from being trapped and it’s super tight bindings, was placed on the deck before us. excitement, sadness and a full
spectrum of emotion washed over me. I placed my hand gently on it’s side, gently making ‘shhh’ sounds and telling it not to be afraid, that it would be ok. I don’t think it understood me. It thought it was going to die.

Fortunately they don’t usually eat sun bears in Sumatra, and quickly our wishes for it’s release were granted – after a trip across the river in a ‘pompong’ (long thin local motorboat) so it didn’t come back for revenge, which despite their vegetarianism, they are known toenact.

Oddly enough, his capturing these creatures may inadvertently be helping to save their habitat – proof that endangered animals are living in these forests which we’re trying to prevent being cleared and burnt to make way for palm oil monocultures to supply oils forjunk food, cosmetics and biofuels for the western world.

I wonder what he’ll catch today.






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