Voice of Experience: Answering the Call of the Wild in Sumatra

November 18, 2015 by | Filed Under: Adventure Travel, Indonesia, News, Our People

Mike Griffiths, the co-founder of conservation efforts for the Leuser Ecoystem in Sumatra, tells Khiri Travel that organisations should mobilise and use technology to protect endangered habitats and species such as the Sumatran rhino.

Mike Griffiths - expert interview

Tell us a little bit more about yourself first. What is your current mission? What did you do prior to that?

I have been involved in the conservation of the Leuser Ecosystem since 1985. Prior to this, I worked in the oil and gas industry as my qualifications include zoology and geology. My current mission is to engage the private sector in taking a bigger role in promoting the conservation of the Leuser Ecosystem, (a critically important expanse of rainforest in Aceh and North Sumatra Provinces of Indonesia).


Tell us a little about Wildlife Protection Solutions. What first made you focus on marrying advances in technology with wildlife conservation?  Why is this important to the future of wildlife conservation?

Wildlife Protection Solutions (WPS) and Indonesian NGO, Forum Konservasi Leuser (FKL), have been in contact for the last two to three years. WPS, an international non-profit, has already provided critical help in protecting the Sumatran rhino and has initiated the rebuilding of the Ketambe Research Station in the Leuser Ecosystem. WPS brings the latest technology to assist in protection of endangered species and is currently building a system initially aimed at helping to monitor and protect the Sumatran rhino.


How important are your current efforts to effectively conserve wildlife? All things being equal, why should an interested party consider donating to WPS compared to donating directly to an organization dedicated to wildlife conservation?

FKL is engaged mostly in fieldwork: protection, monitoring and engagement with communities and the private sector operating in the field. The relationship with WPS in this respect is very strategic. However, fieldwork alone will not save this irreplaceable ecosystem. Much work needs to be done in advocacy and campaigning to ensure that the various levels of government make the right decisions. This kind of work is now being carried out by HAkA, an Aceh based NGO who advocate for the social, economic and environmental viability of Aceh Province and with whom FKL has a close association.


How are your efforts being used in Indonesia?

While FKL and HAkA focus on the Leuser Ecosystem, other groups working elsewhere in Indonesia have adopted many of the strategies pioneered by these two organizations. Conservation, as a whole, benefits.


Five years down the road, what would you like see happen in terms of WPS and conservation efforts in Indonesia?

I see Wildlife Protection Solutions constantly evolving in terms of technology and resources. Much more needs to be done in monitoring and protecting the wildlife of Leuser (and elsewhere) and WPS could take a leading role in this.


As you know, Khiri Travel is an inbound DMC working with tour operators in Europe and the USA. What would you most like to communicate to them through Khiri Insider?

Step softly. Enjoy the nature of Leuser and elsewhere. And begin to build an international constituency of support for some of the most important natural treasures on earth.

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