Orangutan Expert Urges Travel To Indonesia Now

Deforestation Pushing Orangutans Toward Extinction

By Kelly Dinardo, New York Times

It was the orangutan’s eyes that first struck Biruté Mary Galdikas. “They look very human,” said Dr. Galdikas, an anthropologist and the president of Orangutan Foundation International. “They have a very strong gaze that will penetrate you,” she said. “It’s almost hypnotic.”

In the early ’70s, Dr. Galdikas traveled from Los Angeles to the Indonesian province of Central Kalimantan on Borneo island to study the red-haired primates. She has spent much of the last 45 years on the island, researching the orangutan and fighting to protect its habitat.

Birutie Galdikas Camp Leakey Indonesia

For decades, Dr. Galdikas was one of the few travelers to the inner region of Borneo. Getting there required an arduous journey and there was little infrastructure once one arrived. Government investment in the region and a smattering of eco-lodges and expedition companies are changing that.

The draw for most visitors is Camp Leakey, the research and education center in Tanjung Puting National Park that Dr. Galdikas established and named for her mentor, Louis Leakey, the paleontologist, archaeologist and anthropologist. Below are edited excerpts from a conversation with Dr. Galdikas about Kalimantan, Camp Leakey and the orangutans.

Q. How has Kalimantan changed?

A. In 1971 when I first went there, it was one of the wildest places left on earth. There were still headhunters on the interior. There were no roads. Rivers were the only highways.

How has tourism changed?

Tourism began in this area only about 20 years ago. I remember a pamphlet that the government issued that told people what a tourist was, what you did with a tourist. One of the wonderful things about Indonesia is the warm, gracious people. They treat tourists as guests.

We have encouraged tourism. We wanted to bring tourists to increase awareness of the orangutans. At Camp Leakey, we see up to 15,000 a year from all over the world. The local people saw them coming in and built up the tourism industry. The good thing is that the money stays in the area. The cooks are local. The guides are local. The boats are local. That’s one of the reasons the local people are so supportive.

Birutie Galdikas Camp Leakey

What do visitors do or see at Camp Leakey?

After you go into the education center, you can walk to the feeding station. Once a day, the orangutans are provided with fruit and they usually come through the trees to the feeding platform. The feeding lasts two hours and some people watch them the whole time.

The time to come is now. I went to see the gorillas in Rwanda and there are only a limited number of visitors allowed. There are very strict rules. It’s wise. The national park at Tanjung Puting has investigated what it would take to set up a system like that. There’s no limit at this point. It’s not necessary yet. You get very intimate encounters with the orangutans at Camp Leakey.

Besides increasing awareness, how has tourism impacted the orangutans?

So far it’s mainly been good. The tourism is controlled. You can only come to the feeding [at Camp Leakey]. You’re not allowed to wander alone in the forest. It enhances the value of the park to the local people and then they will fight for it. Tourism directly benefits the orangutans. It makes the local people want to protect them.

The main issue for orangutans in Southeast Asia is palm oil plantations. The forest needs to be cleared completely for the plantations.

Indonesia forest conservation

Orangutans spend 90 percent of their time in the tree canopy. When you cut down the trees, they have nowhere to go. We’re headed toward a point where most of the orangutans we see will be in captivity or at Tanjung Puting.

Indonesia Travel Update via http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/29/travel/birute-mary-galdikas-orangutan-expert-visiting-indonesia.html

Indonesia tourism marketing and public relations firm

Crossbow Communications specializes in international marketing, issue management and public affairs. Indonesia is one of our regions of expertise. Our President and founder is the author of the Language and Travel Guide to Indonesia. Please contact Gary Chandler at gary@crossbow1.com. Visit Indonesia.

Indonesia and Switzerland Promote Tourism

Indonesia Seeks Tourism From Europe

The Indonesia’s Minister for Tourism and Creative Economy, Mari Elka Pangestu signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Swiss Minister for the Economy, Schneider-Amman, to further develop four of Indonesia’s main tourism destinations, in particular in the field of tourism capacity building. The four destinations include:

Flores Indonesia

  • the island of Flores, hopping off point to the Komodo National Park, but itself a destination rich in culture and natural scenery to visit in the East Nusatenggara Province;

Birutie Galdikas Camp Leakey

  • Tanjung Puting in Central Kalimantan, conservation rainforests for the endangered Borneo orangutans, popular river tours and ecotours;

scuba dive Sulawesi

  • Wakatobi archipelago in South East Sulawesi, already a favorite destination for diving and conservation area for marine life; and

Tanah toraja

  • the Toraja highlands in the northern mountains of South Sulawesi, long known for its unique culture, traditions, white-water surfing, trekking and ecotours.

“This MOU covers the second phase of Destination development in Indonesia supported by the Secretariat for Economic Affairs of the Swiss Confederation, explained Minister Mari Pangestu, and is a continuation of the first phase that covered development on the island of Flores from 2010 to 2015.

During the first phase, development of Flores and the Komodo island as a major tourist destination saw a significant increase in visitors compared to 2009, namely a rise of 18% to 50,000 in international visitors and 85% in domestic tourists reaching 35,000 visitors in 2012. Foreign currency income for Flores in 2012 reached US$ 31.5 million, a surge of 48% compared to 2009.

Indonesia travel information

During Phase I, the Swiss government provided a grant of 5 million Swiss Francs, while for the second phase the grant for the 4 destinations amount to 8.97 million Swiss Francs.

On his side, Swiss Economic Minister, Schneider-Amman said that cooperation between Indonesia and Switzerland goes back a long way to 1980, when the Swiss Government provided technical assistance to the Bandung Tourism Academy at the time.

In the second phase, implementation will be undertaken together with local governments, the respective Destination Management Organizations (DMOs), local human resources, and educational tourism institutes.

The program is implemented by Swisscontact, who has been involved in the original tourism development of Labuan Bajo and West Manggarai as a tourist destination that in its initial stage was supported by AUSAID.

Source: http://www.eturbonews.com/39247/indonesia-switzerland-develop-tourism-capacity-building-4-main-d

Indonesia tourism marketing and public relations firm

Crossbow Communications specializes in international marketing, issue management and public affairs. Indonesia is one of our regions of expertise. Our President and founder is the author of the Language and Travel Guide to Indonesia. Please contact Gary Chandler at gary@crossbow1.com. Visit Indonesia.

Language and Travel Guide To Indonesia