Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Bad Boys Merangin!: On Patrol with the Tiger Protection and Conservation Team

Iswadi, Herizal, Suhardi, and M resting on the way to the field.
This past week I was fortunate to have the opportunity to follow along on a forest patrol inside Sumatra's Kerinci Seblat National Park conducted by the elite rangers that make up the Sumatran Tiger Protection and Conservation Unit.  The unit is specially tasked with protecting and conserving the critically endangered Sumatran Tiger, but they also perform other ranger duties as well.  Since the unit was created in 2000 it has expanded to five four-man teams and has achieved a great deal of success in preserving the Sumatran tiger.  I followed one of the unit's teams for 5 days through the park's dense forest and rugged terrain, an experience that was extremely rewarding in terms of my research while at the same time being one of the most grueling tasks I've ever undertaken.

Heading Out...

Provisions for 5 days
I drove over to Bangko in Merangin district (4 hours from where I live) the day before the patrol was to start in order to get prepared.  The team was kind enough to prepare the "logistik" or provisions that I would need for five days, which you can see in the photo to the right.  The bags contain dried minnows and about 8 pounds of rice.  The guys at the barracks stayed up late since it's Ramadan (a post on the Muslim holy month will follow) and before they begin the day's fasting they eat a big meal at around three in the morning and go back to sleep.  Our patrol plan was to camp at the edge of the forest on day one, search for illegal animal traps for three days, and then head back to the barracks on the fifth day.  This particular patrol was a bit special because once a year the five teams that make up the Tiger Protection and Conservation Unit have a contest to see who can find the most traps.  The team that comes in first wins a bonus of 3 million rupiah (a bit over US$300), whereas the second place team gets 2 million, and the third place team gets 1 million.  We woke up around 7:30 am, loaded up the ancient Toyota Land Cruiser (see photo above) that had been pressed into service because one of the team's Ford Rangers was in the shop, and set out on the 4-hour drive to our departure site in the Lembah Masurai area of Merangin district. We felt every bump along the extremely rough road, but finally we made it to the village of Nilo Dingin, smack dab in the middle of an area that is currently experiencing some of the highest rates of forest encroachment on the whole island of Sumatra.

Chatting with coffee farmers
We hiked a couple of kilometers through the sprawling coffee gardens that forms the mainstay crop of the thousands of farmers that have flooded into the Lembah Masurai area to farm.  The volcanic soil here is rich and highly productive, and very high yields have drawn as many as 18,000 families from as far away as Lampung and South Sumatra.  They have become a major problem for authorities charged with managing protected forests, as they have begun encroaching into the park and other conservation areas.  We spent the night with a friendly farmer from Pagar Alam in South Sumatra, who told us he'd been farming coffee here for four years and that it has allowed him to send his children to university.  We enjoyed his hospitality and the basic comforts of his pondok (1) while other farmers showed up to check out the foreigner and the forest police.

Into the Woods...

After a 3am meal we went back to sleep, waking at around 7am to head into the forest.  We trekked up the steep slopes of Mt. Masurai, a dormant volcano.  My prime concern was not to fall behind and not to become a hindrance, since there was a prize at stake for the team.  I was pretty nervous about not being able to keep up given that these guys go into the forest for a living.  In addition, I'd had my appendix removed a few weeks before, and even though I felt 100% healthy I wasn't sure how my body would react to strenuous hiking.  I had been training for the patrol before my surgery, but after I stopped to allow myself to fully recover.  After a few hours hiking we reached the top of a 40-meter waterfall and stopped to take a break.  The view was really breathtaking; as we walked across the top of the waterfall I imagined myself in one of those panoramic cinema shots taken from a helicopter you sometimes see in the movies.  I know it sounds corny, but it was exhilerating.  Shortly after this we found our first active snare, which you can see in the photo below.  This particular trap was set by poachers for a forest goat, which brings about US$5 per kilogram at market.  The poachers usually set the traps along trails since animals follow trails because the going is easier.  This particular trap was worth 50 points in the contest, so everyone was excited.

Team leader M describing how the trap works. 

At around 4pm we found a spot to camp so that we could set everything up before dark.  Though we camped beside the trail, the guys told me that normally they try to camp off the trail and near a river, since beliau (2) likes to use the trail.  They told me that they ask the tiger's permission to camp by the trail when they need to, because "we are under (his) rules here".

The Next Two Days...

100% waterproof shelter.
The next morning we hunkered down because it was raining.  Amazingly the shelter the team constructed kept us 100% dry.  By about 10.30 the sky had cleared, so we broke camp and got back to work.  Although I started out feeling fine, the second day really took its toll on me because we did a lot of ascending and descending over difficult terrain.  The guys had no problem though; it was a particularly humbling experience trying to keep up with the nimble forest rangers because I kept slipping and getting caught up in thorns.  Every time you fall or have to extract yourself from the ever-present pokey-plants that seem to consciously come after you it saps a bit more of your energy.  The guys seems able to avoid all of these hazards, though, and they climbed up the slopes like Spidermen.  Particularly impressive was the fact that three of them were keeping the Ramadan fast, which prevents them from eating food or even drinking water during the day.  Though I couldn't (and really had no desire to) keep the fast, I limited myself to a couple of packets of condensed, sweetened milk and a package of potato candy each day.  I did make sure to keep hydrated, though.

By the end of the third day we were ready to descend back towards the pickup point.  We started at about 9am and hiked until about 6pm, by which time I was completely wrecked.  Coming down off the mountain involved going straight down the slope, cutting a trail as we went, which was particularly exhausting.  But after a long day we finally made it back to a village and hunkered down for the night.  It was a great experience and I learned a lot about the park and the challenges it faces as well as the heroic job done by the PHS unit.  They are extremely dedicated and committed to their jobs, and they are proud of the work they do.  "When poachers see the black coming, they run, because they know there's no negotiation", said one of the PHS members, referring to the fact that they wear black whereas regular forest police wear green.  There's a subtle jibe here, and I'll let you figure it out.

I also learned a lot of neat forest tricks from the PHS guys.  Despite being hard-core forest dudes, they are some of the nicest folks you could hope to meet, and they took really good care of me.  I'd like to say that I'll be out on another patrol soon, but to tell you the truth, I'm not sure if I can handle it.

Lend a Helping Hand...

I was thinking about what I could do as a thank you to the guys for letting me tag along and it occured to me that one piece of equipment they could really use and would very much appreciate is a Leatherman.  I checked on Ebay and it looks like I can get the Leatherman Sidekick for about $35 per (3).  Since there are 20 team members, I'd need about $800 to buy one for each team member.  But I'm still a poor PhD candidate.

So here's the deal.  If you'd like to buy a Leatherman Sidekick for the members of the Tiger Protection and Conservation Unit, or if you'd like to make a partial contribution, please contact me at geografikanusantara@gmail.com.  Or if you'd like to buy a Sidekick and send it to my Hawai'i address I can give you the information if you email me.  I don't have an NGO or anything like that, so you'll have to trust me with the money.  If you look at my blog you can see what I'm all about; I'm not doing this to scam anyone.  If I can collect enough money I'll ship the tools to the unit's coordinator.  This is a good way for you to make a useful contribution to tiger conservation.  Thanks in advance!


So far I'm up to 4 leathermen, which is 20% of my target.  Thanks to the generous person that made the first contribution!


Thanks to two more generous folks I'm up to 8 leathermen, 40% of the target.  Thanks much!


Now at 11 leathermen thanks to another donation.


Just received another donation of two leathermans to bring the total to 13.  Only need 7 more....


15 Leathermans and counting!


(1)  Pondok means "hut" and in this case refers to semi-permanent structures built in upland farms where the farmers stay while they are working their fields.  Normally the farmers have a house in town and only stay in the pondok when it is time to plant or harvest, but here in Nilo Dingin the encroaching farmers stay there most of the time.

(2)  Beliau is a non-gender specific respectful third-person form of address.  In the forest here you say "beliau" rather than "harimau" (tiger) because it is believed that literally saying "tiger" will invite the beast to come.  I use "he" in my translations because it is simpler

(3)  A reader informed me that Amazon has them cheaper than the original $40 I posted.  The $35 includes the sheath but doesn't include shipping.  If you get free shipping you can have it sent directly to me.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Development Versus Conservation? A False Dichotomy at Kerinci Seblat National Park

Kerinci Seblat National Park (green) and
surrounding districts
One major "dilemma" that frequently crops up is a so-called dichotomy between conservation and development. In simpler terms we can think of this as nature versus the economy. The general notion is that you can have one or the other but not both, and when you have conservation it impedes development. Over the past year I've been doing research around Sumatra's Kerinci Seblat National Park, and I frequently hear this line of thinking when I talk to government officials. This discourse also gets carried in the local press, and so the average person on the street often echoes this reasoning as well. But it's not just limited to government officials; "experts" and "academics" sometimes echo this zero-sum game logic too. In fact, a couple of weeks ago at an international conference during a research presentation a scholar pointed to economic development (and population growth) as the major determinants of conservation failure in Indonesia. I took issue with the assertion, and in this post I'll tell you why.

"Development" and the geography of Sumatra

From BAPPENAS masterplan
There are definitely incompatibilities between conservation and a certain type of development, and this is the root of a lot of problems, at least here in central Sumatra.  To understand this we need to look at the economic geography of Sumatra.  The island is overwhelmingly agricultural, and the majority of people make their living off the land, farming relatively small plots of rice, horticultural products, or tree crops.

But the island is also very rich in mineral wealth; there is a great deal of coal and rich deposits of industrial metals are scattered here and there.  There's also a lot of gold on Sumatra.  So mining, most of it small to medium scale, is a major economic activity here.  In fact, when we look at the national planning agency's (BAPPENAS) long-term "master plan" for the nation's economic development, Sumatra figures in as a key source of raw materials, some to be used in industry on Java and some to be exported.  Extractive enterprises like mining are the key to the future for Sumatra, at least according to official plans.

We can also see this reflected in the regional spatial plans that the districts formulate to guide policy and development priorities.  In order to raise district revenues and increase the "prosperity of society" (kesejahteraan masyarakat), district governments are looking to mining as a key sector.  In addition to this, expansion of industrial plantations, like palm oil, figures in as an important component as well.  District governments try to attract investors to do exploration to gauge the size of mineral deposits which will later translate into more mining and, theoretically at least, more locally-generated revenue to fund government programs.  At the same time the district governments improve or create new infrastructure, like roads, that would make it easier to get mined materials out of the district.

The trouble with commodities...

Amidst the endless acres of oil palms in Mukomuko
There are a number of problems with these primary sector activities, though.  The first problem is with the types of jobs that are created.  These are primarily low-skill labor jobs that don't pay much.  As an example, we can look at Mukomuko district in Bengkulu province, where the district has adopted a strategy of increasing the land cultivated by industrial palm oil plantations.  Laborers on these plantations earn an average of 37,500 rupiah (about US$4) per day.  The average annual per capita income in Bengkulu province (2008) is 8,798,818 rupiah (US$946), and so a plantation laborer needs to work 234 days per year to reach this level.  Subtracting weekends there are about 250 working days per year, not including holidays and vacation time.  Thus according to these very simple calculations, laborers on palm oil estates are making right at the provincial average.  The problem is that Bengkulu is one of the poorer provinces in the country, and the average income there is only 41% of the national average.  The same story holds true for those working in mining.  Thus we see that the jobs that are created aren't really elevating the prosperity of society.

A second major problem is that a development strategy that relies on commodity extraction and agricultural extensification doesn't really address the needs of the people in this part of Sumatra.  As proof of this we can again refer to the regional spatial plans, which describe in detail the weaknesses of the various district economies along with the types of policy interventions that are needed to address those weaknesses.  For example, the spatial plan of Kerinci district, where I live, suggests that the most urgent reforms are needed in regional land management, agricultural extension, and value-added enterprises.  The first refers to the problem of "sleeping land"; land that is useable and zoned for agriculture but is not currently under cultivation for one reason or another.  Here in Kerinci we find that a major reason for not farming land is speculation and investment.  The second refers to a lack of skills on the part of farmers.  For the most part they don't know how to sustainably manage their land for maximum yields, and many are trapped in a cycle of debt whereby they mortgage future crops to pay for fertilizer, seeds, and pesticides.  There are not sufficient training programs and other extension services for the farmers here.  Most farmers here live harvest to harvest and so there is no capital accumulation.  The third problem refers to the fact that there is not much processing of agricultural products here.  For example, a major crop in Kerinci is potatoes.  Farmers sell their potatoes to a middleman who transports the potatoes to market in Padang, 7 hours away.

Kerinci potatoes.  I lifted this picture from Antara because
when I was writing this post I realized I have never taken
any pictures of potatoes here.  
Now there are a couple of problems with the potato business here.  The first is the distance to market.  It is a long way to Padang and the roads are bad.  So this increases the transport cost and thus cuts into the profit margin for the farmers.  In addition to this Indonesian potatoes are currently facing stiff competition from cheaper potatoes imported from China and other places, and so lots of Indonesian potatoes end up rotting or being sold for less than the cost of production.  Why don't the farmers grow something else?  Well the answer to this question is tied to the lack of skills I referred to in the above paragraph.  Farmers don't know how to grow anything else, and there isn't any way for them to learn.  I have conducted numerous interviews with farmers and village heads in Kerinci, and these three problems that are highlighted in the regional spatial plan are indeed at the top of their list of complaints.  Moreover, I have observed and interviewed a number of farmers both in Kerinci and other districts with formal training in agriculture, and they experience higher yields and a lower incidence of crop failure than their untrained neighbors.

Instead of addressing these difficulties, though, the district government relies on a strategy of agricultural extensification, seeking to increase the area under cultivation.  But as you might imagine this merely perpetuates and expands the problems of agriculture in the district.  The district government has failed to prioritize training and extension, land reform, and agribusiness.  The reasons for this, according to my observations, are complex but are rooted in local political processes.  Elections for district headman (bupati) are based more on the amount of spending (legal and illegal) rather than actual political platforms.  Thus the guy with the most money to buy votes generally wins.  In order to get money, candidates form alliances with local financiers to form a "success team" (tim sukses).  In return for their support, success team members are often given positions as heads of local government agencies (DINAS) or are given preferential treatment in tendering and bidding for projects.

This leads to district-level offices being run by people whose skills, training, and experience is not consistent with the demands of the job.  In addition, civil servants are often moved from agency to agency for political purposes.  I have spoken with numerous government officials that complain of being moved around from agency to agency every couple of years.  Thus the typical district government office is loaded with people that aren't really suited for the positions they occupy, and many of them are not motivated to address the challenges of the job.  As a result, policy formation and implementation suffers.  We can imagine a continuum of public policy ranging from higher level activities, which require a great deal of coordination, skill, and commitment, to lower-level activities that are rather simple and easy to implement.  Things like land reform and comprehensive agricultural extension would be on the higher end of this continuum.  They are difficult things to implement, but not impossible if you have the right people doing the job.  On the other hand you have things like expanded the land under cultivation, which isn't really that difficult to implement.  My argument is that because of the way politics works here, there is a bias towards policy activities on the lower end of this spectrum.  Making new roads would be another.

A third major problem with this strategy for development is rooted in the logic of the strategy itself.  Since the fall of longtime authoritarian president Suharto in 1998 Indonesia has transferred a great deal of political and administrative authority to the districts as a reaction against the top-down authoritarian structure of the Suharto years.  But at the same time the districts are supposed to generate more of their operating funds, which during the Suharto years came directly from the central government in the form of numerous grants and payments.  The districts want to increase revenues to pay for the activities of government, like education, health, and other services.  But the problem is that regional autonomy has greatly increased corruption at the district level, and so a significant amount of money is "lost" by a variety of means.  Thus more locally generated revenue means more money lost in corruption.  This is related to the political dynamic I described above; people want to be on the team success because it is a way to get control of a government office, where they can enrich themselves through corrupt practices, which further hinders policy making.

What's this have to do with conservation?

As I mentioned before (and in previous posts), I focus on Kerinci and Mukomuko because these are two of the districts that border Kerinci Seblat National Park.  In fact, more than 50% of Kerinci district is covered by the park.  The district headman complains that the park, which is under the control of the national government, hinders development in the district because farming, logging, mining, and other activities are forbidden there.  Thus the reasoning goes that the district is economically crippled because of conservation, and development options are limited.  The headman is very vocal in his criticism of the park, and his views, which are frequently covered in the local press, filter down to the people of the district, and so there is a general feeling of hostility towards the park.  But the park has become a scapegoat used to deflect attention away from the political leadership's inability to promote real "development" in the district.  Thus we see the false dichotomy between development and conservation being perpetuated.

In addition the bias towards infrastructure projects like roads, which is in part motivated by corruption (infrastructure projects provide numerous opportunities for graft, and so infrastructure development is a favorite of regional governments) place pressure on the park in two ways.  First they have direct ecological impacts, which I've described in previous posts.  Second they have the indirect effect of opening up new areas in or on the edge of the park to encroachment, logging, and other illegal activities.  The districts want to build roads through the park because it decreases transport costs and thus increases the profit margins on extractive activities.  In some cases a mineral deposit that is not worth mining may become profitable if the transport costs are decreased.  And so when road projects through the park are rejected the district governments claim that the park is impeding local development.  Conservation becomes a burden.

This is a big challenge for the park because it can't interfere in district level politics.  Moreover, because these problems are structural in nature, there is no quick-fix.  Meanwhile the park is undermined by the false development-conservation dichotomy while the long-term outlook of the surrounding districts is compromised, because extractive activities and agricultural extensification and the development strategy that relies on them do not take into consideration the ecological costs of these activities, which generally manifest themselves several years down the line.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Front Line Forest Defender...

Photo courtesy of Arifin Rahmat
This is my new friend Arifin Rahmat.  Pak Arifin is a forest policeman (POLHUT, polisi hutan) at Sumatra's Kerinci Seblat National Park (1).  I met Pak Arifin at a training session for auxiliary forest rangers here in Sungai Penuh where he taught me and some folks from local communities some of the basics on how to patrol the forest and handle crimes like poaching and illegal logging.    Pak Arifin has worked in and around KSNP since 1990 when he first became an honorary ranger (2).  In 1996 Pak Arifin became a full-time forest policeman posted at the Bukit Tapan resort at KSNP, which is located just outside Sungai Penuh.  After that Pak Arifin was instrumental in setting up the park's innovative Tiger Protection and Conservation Team, which still operates and has experienced a great deal of success in protecting the endangered Sumatran Tiger.  Pak Arifin is also recently received Indonesia's highest award for environmental service, the Kalpataru, which is awarded to around 10 people annually.  Pak Arifin received the award for his dedication to safeguarding and conserving the critically endangered Sumatran tiger.  Pak Arifin graciously afforded me the opportunity to interview him for about two hours during a break in the training.  I wanted to talk to him within the framework of my research, but I also wanted to share his accomplishments and commitment with folks outside Indonesia.

Meeting Pak Arifin

Photo courtesy of Arifin Rahmat
When Pak Arifin entered the room he was decked out in his full dress uniform, which is pretty imposing when your sitting amidst a bunch of villagers.  But one of the first things you notice about him is his easy rapport with his audience.  He immediately had everyone at ease with his warm smile, and within about 3 minutes everyone was hanging on his every word.  Since Pak Arifin has spent years in and around the park, there are only a few of the 400 or so villages bordering the park that he hasn't visited.  As we went around the room introducing ourselves, Pak Arifin related anecdotes about each of the participants villages and asked after the health of people he knows there, though he didn't have any anecdotes about Honolulu.  Throughout his presentation on patrolling tactics he was able to convey technical information in easy-to-access language, and by the end of the day everyone was on the same page.  These interpersonal skills are one of the things that makes a good ranger; many of the residents around the park are lacking in knowledge about the park and its ecological importance, and hence there's a lot of bad feeling towards the park.  A good ranger, besides being able to enforce the rules, is able to "win hearts and minds".

During a coffee break I had a conversation with Pak Arifin.  He told me that he's originally Javanese but he grew up in Lampung on the southern tip of Sumatra.  During his youth he was always interested in nature and enjoyed camping.  He became interested in being a policeman after some POLHUT visited his village.  A boy at the time, he told me that he was fascinated by their uniforms and gear, and so he started talking with them about their job.  As a young adult Pak Arifin wanted to go to school for forestry or law enforcement, but there were no opportunities where he lived so he made his living doing a variety of odd jobs.  Eventually he moved to Sungai Penuh, where Kerinci Seblat National Park was just being established.  At the same time he got involved in a local nature-lovers' group, and when the opportunity to become an honorary ranger came up he seized it.  Eventually after a six-year "internship" he was made an official POLHUT and went to the national police school in Riau to get formal training in policing.

Pak Arifin told me that both of these experiences really helped him develop a personal philosophy that has made him into one of the best rangers in the country.  In the early 1990s the park didn't have many resources (3) and there was a lot of illegal logging and hunting.  At that time facilities were very limited, and when he was posted to Tapan the outpost only had one motorcycle for four policemen.  In addition to infrastructural problems, there were also command-and-control problems which made doing the job difficult.  This taught Pak Arifin the importance of structure, planning, and discipline to make the most of the resources that you have.  Pak Arifin told me that because the park has to make due with around 100 rangers to police an area larger than the state of Connecticut, it is crucial to make sure the rangers are used in the best way possible.

As we talked I was really impressed by Pak Arifin's knowledge and understanding of local conditions.  He sees himself as an instrument of national policy tasked with the responsibility of enforcing the law and protecting the park, but he also understands the perspective of the people living around the park and the difficulties that they face.  We talked about the various villages that we had both visited and compared notes, and he told stories that illustrate different aspects of on-the-ground conservation.  Arifin is always eager to share his knowledge and experience, and seems to really enjoy teaching others.  We also talked about the ceremony in which he was awarded the nation's highest honor for environmental service.  I was interested in the food at the national palace.  "It was okay", Arifin said.  He was more interested in telling me about the excellent work of many of his colleagues, and how the award was less a reflection of his personal performance and more the recognition of a team effort.

Pak Arifin told me that his ambition is apply all that he's learned to help improve conditions in the villages around the park.   Now that he's been a ranger for 22 years he wants to move into local development and create projects that would reduce local pressure on the park.

I asked my friend Debbie Martyr, who has worked with the park's Tiger Protection and Conservation Program since its inception in the 1990s (4), about Pak Arifin, since she'd worked closely with him when he was a member of the team.  She related the following anecdote about Pak Arifin:

Photo courtesy of Arifin Rahmat
Back in 2007 we got a call that a tiger was caught in a gin-trap in Saralunto (a district in West Sumatra province some distance from the park).  I contacted the head of West Sumatra's Office of Natural Resource Management to ask if they needed any help.  He told me that a vet was on the scene and that everything was under control, which relieved me because it was a long way away.  But about 5pm I got another call, and this time he was obviously under a lot of stress.  He told us that the anesthetic didn't work and that the tiger was very aggressive and they could use some assistance.  So me, Arifin and [another tiger team member] drove up there, arriving at about 3am.  When we got there the head of the office was waiting for us, and together we hiked about 4 kilometers to the site.  The vet there was young and enthusiastic, but he'd never faced a situation like this before, so I contacted some vet friends in other countries, rousing them out of bed.  I rattled off the list of unpronouceable and unspellable names of drugs we had on hand and they gave me a recipe to tranquilize the tiger.  After the vet mixed up the proper dosage Arifin volunteered to dart the tiger, which required him moving to within 5 meters of the trapped animal.  Now to really understand the danger here, you have to remember that the tiger, which was a large one, was in extreme pain and under extreme threat.  The gin trap had also sheared completely through the bone, so the only thing keeping him in the trap was a layer of skin and sinew, which would not hold him if he pounced.  Arifin calmly and carefully approached the tiger in full and certain knowledge that if the tiger pounced he would most likely be killed.  He was able to successfully dart the tiger, and we ended up saving him.   Arifin was able to save the tiger because he's a good ranger.  It was one of the bravest things I've ever seen.  

Debbie went on to tell me that Pak Arifin was recognized "because he's someone that has gone out and done his job better than he has to."  She also told me that "he's a ranger in the forest service that has maintained his conservation values and transferred them into field action".

So congratulations to Pak Arifin for his outstanding achievement for his dedication and all his work at Kerinci Seblat National Park.  Hopefully his award helps others to see that conservation isn't just enforcement, but human relations as well.


(1)  Pak Arifin is currently on secondment to the Ministry of Forestry's rapid response forest crimes force (SPORC) based in Jambi City.  The job of polhut in Indonesia is roughly equivalent to that of forest rangers in the US.

(2)  The Indonesian civil service is interesting because many times people will become a civil servant on an honorary basis (Indonesian: "Honor"), which means that they receive a stipend and are given certain tasks within the office or organization.  My understanding is that this is a sort of "foot in the door" tactic and that people become honor in hopes that they will eventually be elevated to official status.  Lots of teachers, at least in my study area, have an arrangement like this.

(3)  The park is still underfunded and underresourced.

(4)  Debbie is probably the world's foremost non-Indonesian expert on both the park and the Sumatran tiger as well.

Saturday, July 14, 2012


This is just a short post to announce that I have uploaded jpeg pictures of every page in An Inside Look at the "Secret Valley" of Sumatra: A Guidebook to Kerinci.  This is an outstanding guidebook for the region and is a great resource for travelers.  To access the page look to the right of this post and click on the link "A Guidebook to Kerinci" to be directed to the page.  I will try to make a PDF available for download; when I get it figured out I will post the link here.

Hopefully this works.  If you want to download a PDF of the book (about 23mb) click here.