December 27, 2016

Photography Making a Difference for People and Wildlife in Sumatra

Three female photographers (Gita Defoe, Kristi Odom, Danielle Da Silva) and their wildlife-loving friend (Amanda-Marie Quentin) have been fundraising over the past year to help create a wildlife sanctuary in Sumatra after being touched by the stories they witnessed on the ground after working with Photographers Without Borders and a local NGO called Orangutan Information Centre. On their projects it became apparent that wildlife trafficking, palm oil, poaching and deforestation are becoming largely problematic both for humans and critically endangered wildlife such as organtuans, tigers, elephants, and rhino. Believing there is no substitute for natural habitat in supporting our wildlife and human water sources, and addressing OIC's need for a primate sanctuary, the the women hope to raise enough money to purchase 50 hectares of pristine rainforest land (equal to 50 football fields) adjacent to the Gunung Leuser ecosystem to house the sanctuary and provide a buffer zone for releasing rehabilitated animals or translocated animals to the wild. The sanctuary will also protect the land from being sold to developers, palm oil plantations, animal agriculture, etc. These forests house the critically endangered Sumatran orangutan, tiger, elephant and near-extinct rhino. The recent fires in Indonesia sparked by slash and burn of rainforests by palm plantation developments have highlighted the urgency of this issue. As Danielle Da Silva, one of the photographers and the Founder/CEO of Photographers Without Borders puts it, "it is far more effective to help prevent a problem than to try to and fix it when it's too late." This issue not only affects wildlife and climate change, but humans as well. Many Sumatran villages are being forced to buy bottled water because palm trees suck up so much water from natural aquifers that villager livelihoods rely on. Raising awareness of this issue is crucial so we can conserve as much land as possible before it falls into the wrong hands.

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Gita's orangutan Experience in sumatra

Photographers Without Borders® photographer Gita Defoe relates her experience in Sumatra working with OIC/SOS - the organizations we are working with on the ground in Sumatra.


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