Eyes on the Forest – OFI’s Monthly Bulletin from Borneo
A Special Message from Dr. Biruté Mary Galdikas
Desperate times require desperate measures…and your help.
As you know, we are currently raising funds to purchase and permanently protect the biologically-rich, 6,400-acre Rawa Kuno Legacy Forest–home to at least 50 wild orangutans and a future release site for orangutans rescued and rehabilitated by OFI. To date, we have successfully purchased more than 2,000 acres, and we continue to raise funds to secure the remaining forestland.
Sadly, nearly over night, a number of local zircon mining companies, as well as a slew of squatting miners, have set up shop and are now excavating within 300 feet of our eastern border. More than 2,000 workers have swarmed the 250-acre mining site. Left unchallenged, these resource-hungry mining operations will cross our property boundary with impunity and decimate portions of our Rawa Kuno
Legacy Forest in little time, leaving behind a white, sandy, wasteland devoid of vegetation and wildlife. They must be stopped today!
But with so many small companies and innumerable illegal squatters currently staking claims to the zircon resources that abut our property, negotiating with potential encroachers is difficult. We MUST act swiftly and powerfully to permanently protect Rawa Kuno’s precious rainforest habitat and the wildlife that depend on it.
Desperate times require desperate measures! Therefore, I have signed an emergency contract with an excavation contractor to create a moat (canal)–approximately ten feet wide and seven feet deep–on the eastern border of the Rawa Kuno Legacy Forest. Work is currently underway. It will run nearly four miles to the Bengaris River, and will take an estimated two months to complete; its disturbed edge will be planted with native forest fruit and habitat trees for wildlife. Once the moat is in place, we will be able to patrol the boundary both by motorcycle and small motorboat or dugout canoe.
It will also act as a firebreak for fires used for clearing villagers’ gardens and plantations close to our border, which often spread out of control during the dry season.
We must also build permanent guard posts at the mouth of the moat and along the way to prevent others from using it for transportation. Moreover, we must work with armed Mobile Police Brigades (BRIMOB) to prevent encroachment and take legal action against intruders before a single tree can be cut or mining foothold established within our protected forest. The BRIMOB patrols will also guard against the slaughter of orangutans and other wildlife species, and prevent their abduction for the cruel pet trade industry.
Your financial support–large or small–is urgently needed today to stop this potential conservation crisis in its tracks. We’ll put your donation to work immediately, supporting the construction of a moat ($33,000) and three guard posts ($36,000); the purchase of one small motorboat ($1,000), one motorcycle ($2,500), and gasoline ($250); and the per diem cost of four Indonesian mobile brigade officers and their commander ($12,000) for one year.
Won’t you please help? We’re counting on all of our friends to join us in firmly taking a stand to protect our forest.
Click here to make a generous donation today (be sure to write “Defend Rawa Kuno” in the Special Instructions section).
With deep appreciation,
Biruté Mary Galdikas