During the first quarter of 2011 we have seen many developments, including renovations to the Info Corner, local school visits to Bukit Lawang, and the completion of the fourth and final module, Communication, Documentation, and Publication, for the fourth cohort of guides and GLNP rangers as part of our training programme. We also report on developments for the excaptive orangutans Mina and Rada Ria, who have been involved in repeated negative interactions with visitors and guides
A. Training Cohort IV Final Module
The final module, on the topic of ‘Communication, Documentation, and Publication’, was hosted in the OIC’s Community Digital Opportunity Centre (CDOC) in Bukit Lawang, from 11 – 18 February 2011. This module is intended to teach guides how best to document and promote their work, to provide a better visitor experience and enhance their business and livelihoods. As evidenced by this quarter’s visitor questionnaire survey (see Appendix) 27% of visitors rely on internet blogs for information about tourism activities in Bukit Lawang, and 23% rely on word of mouth, so it is important that guides are able to promote their work effectively.
Throughout the week-long course, participants created and developed their own web logs and in some cases new websites 1 to promote their forest treks and local ventures, all highlighting the forest guidelines, which will assist in increasing the number of responsible tours in the forest. Those guides needing assistance in computer literacy were given special attention. The guides who have completed our training course can now professionally market their services to a larger audience, with the power of the internet allowing for past customers to comment on and share their experiences with potential future customers. Examples of new websites created by guides:
B. Translocation of orangutans
After a number of meetings and discussions regarding the ex-captive orangutans in Bukit Lawang with the various stakeholders (GLNP authority, HPI Guide Association, local businesses focused on orangutan tourism, SOCP, and the OIC), finally it was decided by the national park authority on 28 January 2011 to translocate Mina and Rada Ria to an area without any marked human presence. We did not expect Rada Ria to be included in the intended translocation, as although he is indeed quite habituated to human presence, he has not been involved in any attacks on visitors. However, due to his lack of fear of humans and propensity to come into contact with them, and with the GLNP rangers claiming that he is starting to show signs of aggression towards them, it is best that he too be moved to a site that does not host any tourism ventures. On 17 February 2011 veterinary staff from the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program (SOCP) arrived to capture Mina and Rada Ria and bring them to their quarantine and care centre in Batu Mbelin, North Sumatra, for the required initial health checks and quarantine process, before being moved to a new site. Rada Ria was quickly captured and placed in a transport cage and taken to the quarantine centre without the need of any sedatives, with a GLNP ranger able to easily handle him for the process.
Read full report by downloading the OIC Gunung Leuser Ecotourism Development Programme – Quarterly Report I ( January – March 2011 ) in PDF Version.