We want to share with you the efforts a young wildlife conservationist, Pungky Nanda, is doing in Sumatra, Indonesia, to raise awareness of the importance of protecting the natural heritage. His work is based on environmental education to children, under the name The Jungle Library Project.
THE JUNGLE LIBRARY PROJECT – INTERVIEW TO PUNGKY NANDA
Pungky Nanda (Tegal, Java; 1992) studied Aquaculture at the University of Diponegoro. After his studies, he has worked in conservation projects, such as on mangrove and sea turtle’s projects in East Java. He has also been working for the NGO Animals Indonesia until the past November as an Environmental Educator. Now, he is doing his best in his own project, The Jungle Library Project, in collaboration with the Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Agency of South Sumatra. You can follow him on Facebook and Instagram!
The task Pungky is doing in South Sumatra is so big that we want to spread his work to the world and help him in the Jungle Library Project fundraising.
Hi Pungky, nice to meet you! The Jungle Library project is about environmental education and conservation. Can you tell us more about it?
The Jungle Library Project promotes environmental education to children living in highly deforested areas with human-wildlife conflict. With this project, we try our best to raise awareness through our story and photography in South Sumatra.
The project started on 2017. Why did you create The Jungle Library?
The first time I met the indigenous children in a local village, I got my heart stolen. Their spirit and eagerness to learn about nature and the flora and fauna amazed me and inspired me to continue working with them independently. This is the reason why I decided to create The Jungle Library Project.
I have the feeling that you try to change mind’s people. Is it like that? Which is your task, your main goal?
Through an environmental education syllabus, we teach primary school students about Sumatran native species, ecosystem function and environmental destruction. The aim is that the future generations take sustainable actions that don’t endanger their life. In other words, we try to change the mind and heart of village children so as to they don’t do illegal land clearing and illicit wildlife trade, activities to which they are exposed every day.
During this period of time, which are the most funny situation you have faced?
It’s not funny, but heart taking. During the first month, I taught in a class of kids who made me tearing up. They said “Thank you so much, kakak”. Kakak in Indonesin means brother. After that, they also thanked me for helping them to learn writing and reading. I can’t hold tears back when I think about it. They thought I was crying because of a mistake of them… When I leave a school, students always want to hold my hands and I may spend more than 30 minutes until teachers advise them to stop.
And the worst one?
It was after teaching a group of kids. I suffered an accident with my motorbike and I really taught I couldn’t teach again because I couldn’t walk. I was unable to walk for two months, my face was swollen and my body was full of wounds. The children who saw me were crying. I never told this to my family until I was completely recovered.
Since you started, have you seen some positive result?
The kids’ mindset is changing… They understand what kind of Sumatran native animals that live around them are endangered and protected under the law. They understand 5 basic ideas about protected animals:
- We can’t shoot them.
- We can’t kill them.
- We can’t sell them.
- We can’t eat them.
- We can’t keep them as a pet.
They know and understand the ecosystem function and the relationship between humans and nature.
They are home-made nature guardians that will spread clear information to their parents, friends and people in the village. The result seems small, but I hope they will make other people think twice before taking illegal activities like logging or poaching.
I don’t think the results are small. They are so big, indeed. Are you alone in this project or do you have help?
Apart from me, my good friend Joshua Parffit, who is also a freelance environmental journalist in Holland, helps me in the project. We collaborate to create this project together. I work on the project site and he manages everything online. Some of my friends around the world sometimes help me out too, like you. This project isn’t created only from both of us; it is created from support of so many people who is concerned and love nature.
You have started a fundraising on GoFundMe last December. How many money do you need and what will be for?
With this fundraising, we will be able to continue the programme for six month. We need 5,500 Euros to buy a motorbike and fuel, food and accommodation, a laptop and teaching material, a camera and flights and trips to participate in meetings, workshops and events. If we get extra funds, we will support other conservation programs, such as the Flora Conservation Act.
After knowing more about the project, I want to donate money. What do I have to do?
It’s very simple. If you want to collaborate with us, just click here Environmental education in Sumatra and follow the few steps.
I wish you all the luck in the world. Tell me about The Jungle Library’s future plans…
We will establish an ecotourism project at the end of this year. I will work together with the government to start a scientific and eco-tourism plan in one of the natural reserves in South Sumatra. Doing so, villagers will have greater incomes with tourism than doing illegal activities and it will encourage them to stop doing that. We will also establish a Research Station and eco-lodge inside the protected area. This year we will also start a restoration project.
Now that we better understand your project and your task; I would like to ask you about biodiversity in Indonesia. Indonesia is hotspot for biodiversity, isn’t it?
Indonesia is the third richest country in megabiodiversity in the world. It’s a hotspot with more than 17.300 islands with different geographical features and ecosystems. That’s a perfect place for millions of species. Indonesia is a country with a plenty of endemic species of flora and fauna that you will never find on other parts of the world. We have three types of flora and fauna: Asiatic species (Western part), Wallecea species (Central part) and Australis species (Eastern part).
On the Western part, we can find big mammals, like big apes, elephants, rhinos, tigers and orangutans, and many Asiatic species. The Wallacea part is a mix of Asiatic and Australis flora and fauna and it has most of the endemic species, such as the Komodo lizards, Tarsius and opossum. Finally, in the Eastern part we can find species like the ground or tree kangaroo and birds of paradise.
I’m afraid all this astounding biodiversity is threatened by human activities. Which are the major problems the biodiversity have to face?
Logging, poaching and plantations are killing the green heart of my tropical archipelago. Even inside the National Park, where virgin rainforests should flourish, wild animals are under the pressure of the illegal pet trade. Faced with higher living costs, indigenous people who live on the border of some of Indonesia’s last green wildernesses are increasingly forced to sell their natural wealth. If the children grow up with this, it will become the norm.
What do you think is the solution to these threats?
Modernisation has pushed people to find increased sources of income, sometimes illegally. The problem with that is that children grow up watching their parents and they begin to take nature for granted. One of the solutions is Education! Education is a key to counteract some of the destructive practices threatening the health of environment.
I’m sure that after reading your interview, there would be many people desiring to travel to Indonesia. What advices would you give them to be more sustainable and responsible during their stay?
- Choose eco-friendly activities and sustainable eco-tourism during your trip in Indonesia that involves local villagers.
- Be part of volunteering to help conservation activities.
- Never feed wild animals.
- Never take selfies with captive or endangered animals at public areas or zoos cause it will drive so many endangered animals captured from its habitat just for pleasure.
- Never ride elephants or other animals. This is animal abuse.
- Buy a stuff made by indigenous people to support their economy.
Thank you very much, Pungky! I think there should be more people like you that feel a huge love for their land and eager to protect it.
More than 100 people have already done a donation. Remember you can help fundraising The Jungle Library Project too!