New MoU in Place

To support our elephant conservation efforts head to the official Berdiri website

This month is a landmark for us here at Berdiri. We have signed a new 3 year MoU with the local conservation agency (BKSDA) here in Bengkulu to continue on the much needed conservation efforts for the critically endangered Sumatran elephants. The next three years will entail a few projects. First and our focus for now is to implement an electric fence for the camp elephants of PLG Seblat so they can be chain free, free to roam and socialize and to encourage the opportunity to breed.

This is the beginning of a long term plan and there will be many small, medium and large projects to aid in the conservation of the critically endangered elephants here is Sumatra.

A big thank you to those that have stuck by awaiting to make this happen. Especially the amazing conservation team of Tulsa Zoo.

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Kenya Unites for Elephants and Rhinos

On 4 October, over 130 countries joined a global march to protect elephants and rhinos
referred to as the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos (GMFER). This widely participated
global march coincided with the World Animal Day.

In Nairobi, more than 1,000 people trekked a 10 kilometres route passing the downtown
traffic and hooting cars in response to signs held by marchers that read “Hoot To Support The

This global initiative started in Kenya on January 2013 in response to eleven elephants killed
and hacked off their tusks, the latest large slaughter of the animals to be reported amid
insatiable global demand for ivory in Tsavo Conservancy Centre, in the southeastern part of
Kenya, according to a CNN report.

As a wildlife enthusiast and a foreigner in Kenya, I found myself in awe bumping into well
known campaigners for elephants and rhinos; one of which is Dr. Paula Kahumbu, CEO of
Wildlife Direct and the initiator of “Hands Off Our Elephants” campaign. Dr. Kahumbu said
that “it is all our responsibility to stop the demand for elephant ivory and rhino horn” from
consuming countries such as China and Vietnam. Her organization is currently partnering
with tour companies and airlines to put an end to poaching banking on the New Wildlife
Conservation Act that imposes life inprisonement for poaching in Kenya.

chinese youth fights for elies

chinese youth fights for elies

Juliani, a well-known singer in Kenya who is also a staunch advocate for elephants and
rhinos said that these animals should be protected because it is “our heritage and part of our
(Kenyan) culture. . . are our (Kenyan) pride in general”.

Peter Moll, a young founder of a youth NGO called “Stand Up Shout Out” said in a speech
during the march that “when Kenya loses its elephants and rhinos, most Kenyans will then be
out of jobs” highlighting the symbiotic relationship between wildlife, tourism and jobs. Kenya
is reeling from a very high unemployment rate among its youth.

A reformed poacher challenged everyone to treat elephants like they are part of us; “let’s take
care of them”; while, the US ambassador to Kenya, Robert Godec pledged to commit resources
to take care of Africa’s elephants and rhinos.

kids fight for elies

kids fight for elies

Many around the world marched for a good cause towards helping rhinos and elephants
on that Saturday. Now that the march is over, what’s the next ? Yes, there are lots of NGOs
pledging their wholesome intention through their vision and mission statements and lots of
international talks have been held at the United Nations level, all in the name of preventing
elephants and rhinos extinction.

There are still ivory shops in China, both legal and lllegal which make lucrative profit from
tusks that are priced at around USD 1,600 each.

According to reports, Kenya currently sits at number one spot in ivory trade. Ivory is
reportedly being used by the Somali terrorist group, al-Shabaab, responsible for September
2013’s terror at Westgate Mall in Nairobi that killed 67 people, to be exported to China to
buy firearms hence making this situation not only a concern in the grim future of elephant
population, but also of global security.

What are we doing as world citizens to stop this from happening? Ideally we don’t want to
see elephant orphanages or elephant conservation centres receiving orphans because their
mothers were killed by poachers (as baby elephants can suffer from such trauma) for their
tusks in Africa or because of habitat loss from corporations wanting more lands to develop
palm plantations in Indonesia.

kenya fights for elies

kenya fights for elies

Tonnes of tusks, horns and ivories are burned to hype governmental actions against ivory
trade in supplying and demanding countries. But what do these actions mean to the elephant
and rhino population? Nothing, it only means that more of them have been killed. The demand
for ivory in China and other southeast Asian countries are fueling the rampant killings of these
species in Africa.

The unsustainable practice of corporations that produce palm oil in Indonesia gives birth to
orphans in Aceh; the use of elephants for human entertainment in Asia, treats elephants as
commodities, demeaning their importance in the ecology.

Questions surrounding “what to do” shall remain, marches and protests will still occur,
reports on the number of elephants or rhinos killed will still be on news , hashtags like
#SaveElephants, #SaveRhinos will still trend on social medias. Whilst it is okay for these to
still remain, many of us from now on should pick ourselves up and act. After all, we don’t want
to live in a world where our children and our children’s children can only read: “Elephants
and rhinos once roamed the Earth.”

As a writer, an observer and a participant of last Saturday’s global march, I realised that
writing one article is not enough to help. There will surely be more articles to come, this is a
part of the fight against extinction.


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Help is Definitely Needed

This is a very interesting article and a new perspective on the conservation initiatives in Malaysia and Indonesia. Showing that the government are throwing out impossible statistics when I myself see first hand the loss of critically endangered wildlife every month and know just as well as Erik Meijaard that these statistics are just not true (impossible). As I write this the haze of smoke covers south Sumatra from the illegal forest fires burning off forests for new crops leaving the critically endangered wildlife with nowhere to go but in conflict with the locals and eventually death for the animals.
The resonating factor in this article is the conservation efforts truly need an overhaul if any kind of success to prolong the dynamic species of Indonesia is to be fruitful.

a culture that doesn’t (yet) sufficiently value wildlife

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“Raise your Voice, Not the Sea Level”: Happy World Environment Day!

Every so often, people are too preoccupied with doing and looking into so many things in life that they tend to forget how to give back to someone who has provided them with so much – someone called Mother Nature.

Everyone, regardless of age, religion, status and identity, have this one big and unified purpose in this world: to learn to give back and to take care of the resources which is our most important treasure – our environment.

tikus 2014-0219The World Environment Day is an annual celebration every 5th of June which seeks to increase global awareness as well as take positive environmental action to be able to protect nature and the planet Earth. Thus, today, for the 41st time since 1973, the World Environment Day is once again being celebrated.

This year, the theme for the World Environment Day as announced by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is about the small island developing states or “SIDS” and Climate Change. Accordingly, the slogan for this year is: “Raise your Voice, Not the Sea Level.”

The small island developing states are low-lying coastal countries with very fragile environments.  They are among the most vulnerable regions in the world relative to the frequency and intensity of natural and environmental disasters and their rising impact, climate change and even isolation.

Our environment truly needs our help. Visit and know how to take action as we all aim for a Happy World and a Happy Environment. Happy World Environment Day!


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New Deaths of Sumatran Elephants in Riau

It’s been a tragic week for the Sumatran elephant with 7 new deaths recorded in the Riau province of Sumatra near the Tesso Nilo National park. Poisoning is suspected and is becoming more and more common as elephants are forced to enter village areas when their habitat is continuously being destroyed to make way for crop land, majority being for palm oil. Villagers tend to take action on their own and poison the elephants to stop the destruction of food crops that the elephants eat. So the question being asked, “Is palm oil killing elephants?”, the answer is a most definite yes and more than anything else combined.


Illegally burning and clearing forests the vital habitat is causing more and more elephant conflicts throughout Sumatra.

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Sumatran Tiger – Nowhere to Hide

Recently I travelled to north Sumatra documenting the work of an NGO based in Sumatra for captive elephants. I stumbled across this wildlife trade report on the Sumatran tiger while traveling through the elephant camps in North Sumatra. It was funded and put together by Traffic and written by CHRIS R. SHEPHERD and NOLAN MAGNUS. I was simply amazed at the detail of this report on all provinces of Sumatra and the rampant wildlife trade of more than ten years ago. I was particularly taken a back by the 1997 account of a tiger named Tele. It was very sad to read, not only for the tiger but for the mindset of the locals. This is a very serious part of the issue for wildlife, the mindset for the locals in Sumatra needs to be reversed if these animals have any chance.

A Tiger Named Tele

In February 1997, a team of three people, including the first author of this report, left from Medan with a vehicle offered by the Leuser Development Programme. Information regarding the trapped tiger was far from detailed and the condition of the animal was not known. The basic plan was to get the tiger and move it, after the veterinarians had examined it, to the Gunung Leuser National Park. However, upon arrival, it was found that this animal would not be able to be released due to multiple wounds. The tiger’s tail was pinched in the door of the trap and had already become infected. Furthermore,aftertranquilising it and examining it closely, it was found to be missing all but two digits on one forepaw and all of the digits on the other, as a result of snaring. Further examination revealed a snare on the foreleg that the animal’s skin had grown over completely except for a piece of wire protruding from one spot. The snare was made of the brake cable from a bicycle.

Interestingly, the village people that had captured the tiger did not want to see it destroyed, as the local police intended on doing. A few local entrepreneurs had set up a small tent and were selling soup and rice, as well as charging admission to the bus loads of villagers coming to see the trapped tiger. The Forestry Department was involved as well, but was quite undecided as to what should be done. It was finally agreed that the animal should be taken back to the Medan Zoo, for treatment. While loading the tranquilized animal into the truck, the crowd swarmed around it, pulling out its whiskers, hair and trying to pull out claws.

Finally, at the Medan Zoo, a thorough examination was made and the wire snare on its foreleg was removed. The tail, all but a short stub, was amputated as it had begun to rot. It was observed that the animal, a female, was in the later stages of its life, as the canine teeth were old and worn and two were broken off.

As the zoo did not have enough cages, the resident male was placed in a temporary cage and the female in his cage. However, due to the lack of cages, this was only until the female recovered and began to adapt to the new surroundings. Later the male was introduced into the same enclosure by the staff of the zoo. According to the zoo staff, pleas were made to international zoos as well as to the Sumatran Tiger Breeding Programme for funds to build a new enclosure, but none came. As a result, the female became pregnant and gave birth to three cubs – a male and two females in December 1997. The male was again moved to a small temporary holding cage. Due to poor conditions in the cages, the male cub died. The two surviving female cubs were registered with the Sumatran Tiger Captive Breeding Programme.

When the cubs reached sub-adult age, they were separated from the female. Now the cage situation was such that the male was in the temporary holding cage, the female in one half and the cubs in the other of the cage (the cage was initially split into two to facilitate cleaning). As this arrangement did not allow for the cages to be cleaned, the female was again put in the same cage as the male. She soon gave birth, this time to a lone male. At the time of writing, this male has not yet been registered with the programme.

Click here to download and read the full report.


Sumatran Tiger – Nowhere to Hide

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The Plastic Revolution

The Revolution

Single Use Plastics

Single Use Plastics

200 years ago was around the time of the industrial revolution. It changed the world and has shaped what we know as life today. We are now in the midst of a new revolution that will once again shape the world in the centuries to come,  the plastic revolution. The manufacturing of plastics has worked it’s way into literally every product we use today and as you are about to find out has some serious side effects to not only the way we live, but also the effect on the environment and wildlife around us. It’s not pretty and getting uglier by the day. Unfortunately for many reasons many of us are oblivious to the issues surrounding these plastics. Especially the single use plastics. Here in this post I want to use one piece of plastic that is widely consumed in Indonesia to highlight the issue and clarify the effects it is having on the world around us. It’s the plastic cup of water. I imagine it is used in many poor Asian countries or countries classified as 3rd world countries that are yet to provide clean drinking water to the majority of the population.

Of course there are many many items on a daily basis that are used one time and discarded. For countries like Indonesia with a population of more than 240 million it becomes a real problem. Not just for the people but also for the environment and the wildlife that inhabit the world around us. The problem is there is no system to take care of this large volume of rubbish that is consumed daily. Secondly there is no education. If people were more aware or understanding of the issues of discarding the likes of plastic rubbish they might take more care or responsibility for their actions.

A gallery of the rubbish washed up on Bengkulu Long Beach and flooding in Jakarta due to blocked drains

The Plastic Cup

The population of Indonesia is more than 240 million people. It is safe to say that millions of these cups are consumed in Indonesia each week, possibly even each DAY due to the fact that there is no safe drinkable water around a lot of Indonesia.

plastic on the beach in bengkulu

Plastic on the beach in bengkulu

Let’s do some conservative math. If only 10 percent of the population drink one of these cups every day, that would make approximately 24 million cups consumed every day. With no real system or place for this trash, most people either burn their trash on the side of the street or just toss it on the ground without any thought of the consequences. We can’t blame the majority of the people as they have no idea of the consequences and are brought up to think that tossing their rubbish on ground is simply the norm and is ok. Of course it’s not as I hope to illustrate below.

A short walk along the beach on the west coast of Sumatra reveals plenty of plastic cups washing up on the shore.

A short walk along the beach on the west coast of Sumatra reveals plenty of plastic cups washing up on the shore.

So let us estimate that 50 percent of the 24 million burn their plastic cup in their daily rubbish pile. Then we have 12 million people who toss the cup in the street or generally on the ground. Out of those 12 million cups that end up on the ground some will end up in make shift drains, either blocking the drains causing flooding in the rainy season or make their way eventually to the ocean through this drainage system. So let us estimate a conservative ONE PERCENT of that 12 million successfully enters the drainage system to one day end up in the ocean when the rainy season comes. That is a conservative 120,000 plastic cups per day eligible to enter the ocean, and it’s safe to say from what I have witnessed that there are plenty getting into the ocean and remember its just one piece of plastic trash out of the many 1000’s of types consumed every day. If you think about it over a period of 1 year approximately 44 million plastic cups could potentially enter the ocean every year. It’s a scary thought and even scarier realization when you witness the beaches of Indonesia first hand. Remember also this is just Indonesia. Many other Asian counties experience the same issues.

Berdiri Event: Clean up Long Beach Bengkulu

Check out the event that was held recently to start the process of cleaning up the Long Beach in Bengkulu. It’s a combination of actually cleaning the beach and helping to raise awareness of the locals and to be more responsible with their trash.

Cleaning up Bengkulu Long Beach

Cleaning up Bengkulu Long Beach

Jakarta Flooding

It doesn’t take much to flood the streets of Jakarta due to the tonnes of rubbish left on the streets clogging the drainage systems.

The Rubbish

As you can see in this photo when it floods the rubbish has no where to go and is blocking any kind of drainage.

The Effect

Plastic inherently doesn’t break down naturally but photodegrades over a period of time. Sometimes one year and extending out to many years. As the plastic photodegrades the particles become smaller but remain polymer and plastic. They soon become small enough to be ingested by aquatic organisms, thus entering the food chain. Not only does this happen but there are also chemicals that are leached into the ocean as the plastics photodegrade. Plastic rubbish is also spotted by sea birds that mistake the plastic for food that they provide their young, leading to a slow painful death to birds in the effected areas of our major oceans as you can see in the documentary preview Midway.

Read About: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch


1. There is obviously a mammoth effort needed to clean up what is already a mess in the 5 gyres in our oceans. One great solution has been put forward by  a 19 year old Boyan Slat. This idea of skimming across the top of the ocean is simple and effective. But we must be aware that this is only half the solution. We need to stop the process of this rubbish entering into our oceans and a big effort is needed from governments of all countries as the earths population grows and grows so does the piles of rubbish entering the oceans.

2 No more single use plastics. This is one of the biggest contributors to the problem. To distribute drinkable water we need to substitute single use plastics such as the small plastic cup for refillable and reusable containers. It’s a bit of a process but really needs to happen and happen fast.

3. Implement and teach nations about recycling. Recycling is simply non existent in comparison to other 1st world countries and this needs to be implemented along with education to teach people how and why we should recycle.

4. Encourage governments to provide systems. Not just recycling but implement better systems to effectively dispense of the many millions of tonnes of trash to prevent it from entering into our oceans.

Do you have any thoughts or feedback on this information. Any solutions that you might want to add to this? Please leave your valued comments below.


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Zam Zam Orphanage

The Zam Zam Global Orphanage in Bengkulu is just one place that does it’s best in a tough part of the world. When I visited the orphanage, they explained to me that a good portion of the rooms were collapsing and the water pump is broken. There are approximately thirty kids in this one orphanage and the place could use some help. How you can help with this project >

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Volunteer Opportunities…

Travelling is amazing and it seems like everyone wants to do more of it. If you’re budget is tight or you just can’t justify the time away, why not create a less expensive but more meaningful experience?

There is nothing wrong with staying in a hotel and checking out all of the tourist hotspots but you can’t really discover the depth of a city that way. When you volunteer, whether it is just in another city or on the other side of the world, you get the true experience of being a local.

Volunteer hosts invite you into their homes and show you what it really means to be a local there. You can get off the beaten path and learn some amazing skills. If you’ve always thought that you’d have a vineyard when you retire, why not work on one for a few days?

World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) has opportunities across the globe from Bolivia to Zimbabwe. You can make everything from compost to wine. They offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet people from around the world and see things that you would never see as a tourist. You can exchange a bit of your time for free accommodation and meals.

If that seems a bit too physically demanding, check out WorkAway or HelpX. You can volunteer at a hotel, school, or even a cruise ship. There is a dizzying array of options so there is definitely something that will pique your interest.

It’s great to throw your change into a donation box but your time is even more valuable. You don’t need to travel far or devote weeks of your time. You can have a life-changing experience over the weekend. It is an amazing way to broaden your horizons while making a real difference in the world.

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Taman Satwa Bengkulu

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The conditions for the animals at Taman Satwa Bengkulu are terrible

There are a lot of areas in Sumatra that need our help. Almost everywhere you look there are people or animals in need of some form of help or support. The Taman Satwa pusat Bengkulu is one such case and it is in desperate need of some attention as the animals are not in great condition and the enclosures are in a state of disrepair. Some of the animals are even chained up within their cages.

When it comes to owning and running a zoo there are certain aspects that benefit from keeping animals in enclosures. Of course first and foremost is the health and well being of the animals. If you cannot properly care for animals in enclosures then you should stop right there. Making sure the animal is happy and healthy is paramount and should be ensured before anything happens. As you can see in these photos here the animals are not well cared for and their enclosures are full of rubbish. It’s the worst “zoo” I have laid eyes on. But rather than getting angry it’s important to talk to the people first and find out the issues.

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It says a lot when you look into the eyes of this little guy. They need help.

In a country like Sumatra there certainly is a big need to preserve and conserve many species, raise awareness and educate the local people about the reasons for a species decline in order to help them make the lifestyle change for the sake of the future for the species and the environment. A big part of the benefit for a zoo is the ability to show the locals how special these animals are. The more time people get to spend with and see these animals the more they will fall in love with them and want to conserve them. The more they learn about their plight and how critically endangered a lot of animals are, then the hope is that the new generation will be able to provide the solutions necessary to stave off extinction of some amazing and iconic species only found here in Sumatra.

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Peaking out through the wood slats of a confined home

It breaks my heart to see these animals in such conditions. It’s a helpless feeling when I visit these guys. Occasionally I bring them extra food in the form of bananas, it’s not much but it’s better than nothing. Well today I decided I’m not helpless, I might be alone but I’m not alone in wanting to do something for the care of these amazing creatures.
Today I tracked down the person who runs the zoo. I managed to have a good conversation in Bahasa Indonesia about how I can help. We talked about the possibility of me being able to put some money up to buy the zoo in order to provide a much better home for these animals and provide a place to educate and raise awareness about the conservation of the amazing species here in Sumatra. It was very positive and he was quite welcoming to receive help. So I hope to hear from him in about 1 weeks time with more information in order to make a proposal to buy/contract the location. It could be a bit of a process and will require los of outside help from you and from investors, but in the long term it will be a great solution for these animals and provide a great location for people to learn about the plight of the animals in Sumatra.

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Sharing a tight space with a bunch of rubbish. This place needs action

In the short term I will continue to come in and provide some more food for the animals on a regular basis and see if I can try and clean the place up a bit.
It’s a start and a step in the right direction and here’s hoping a positive solution can be agreed upon in a future proposal.



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