It is with great sadness for all of us at the Orangutan Information Centre (OIC) for the passing of Pungut, a dedicated driver who has been supporting our conservation action on the ground on last Tuesday (29/09/20). His tireless commitment to supporting OIC Team is indeed an inspiration. Our Founder, Panut Hadisiswoyo, has been working with Pungut since end of 1990s when he worked for the Leuser Development Programme (LDP). “Pungut was a loyal, honest, and hardworking man who was always ready to mobilize the team to make a positive change for our conservation action” said Panut, our founder and chairperson. With that being said, his dedication to conservation in Sumatra is beyond question.
He joined OIC in 2017 as a driver, but he was soon becoming one of the most beloved figures to the team for his kindness, compassion, gentleness and dedication. He worked to support each of our programme and never failed to bring the light. For those who have worked with him must agree that he is way more than just a driver who took the team to site to site safely, he takes care of the team thoroughly like a father.
Together with the restoration team, he helped to distribute any related needs to support the programme, mobile to visit each of our 6 restoration sites with our restoration manager and much more. “There are two things that pak Pungut always talk about his experience to play volley ball and his passion to work in conservation. Countless conservation projects have been supported by his compassionate hands until his last breath. We are in deep mourning” said Rio, our restoration manager.
The same goes with our HOCRU team. Many occasions, Pak Pungut supported rescue operations along with our team on the ground. He drove safely conquering terrible and broken roads to save orangutans in need and released it back to the wild with our team. “We call him Pak Pung, he is such a generous, kind, gentle and polite person. Some of the rescue operations we did on the ground was helped by him. When you thought that considering his age, he was going to sit around, he proved you wrong! He was always ready to help with anything. Never complained that we had to work overtime and put the priority to save orangutan first from the evacuation process to the translocation. He is truly a Leuser guardian” said Jenny, our HOCRU programme manager.
Our community development programme is also one that he often got hands-on as well. “Pak Pungut is such a humble and hard worker’s figure. Helping us to work directly on the ground, he never complained to work overtime until very late time and always ready every time we needed. On the field site, he worked very hard to help field staff and enjoyed to have interactions with local people around our site work. We still can’t believe the fact that he is gone too soon. Rest in peace, dear Pak Pungut” added Binur, our programme manager for community development projects.
To our donors, donors and supporters, he is also such a memorable one. Danielle da Silva, one of our partners from photographers without borders (PWB) also said similar things. In every trip that PWB had collaborating with OIC, Pak Pungut was not just a driver who took them safely through all terrain. “You know when you meet someone and they feel like kin? Pak Pungut felt like a father to many of us and like a brother to even more. My condolences to his family, OIC team and everyone who loved him very much” she said.
Pak Pungut has dedicated his life to conservation to his last breath. He is gone too soon but surely he will never be forgotten. He is one of the truly orangutan’s guardian!