Reporter’s Journal: Dock Boys

March 27th, 2014

By Melati Kaye

Photo copyright (c) 2014 Melati Kaye.

“Dock boys” take a swim break from sorting and carrying fish at Makassar’s Paotere harbor, where fish caught with hook and line, homemade bombs, and cyanide are brought to port and sold.

This photo was taken by SRI fellow Melati Kaye, who is reporting on the State of Indonesian Fisheries.

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This post is published under an Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International license.  If you would like to reprint this piece, unchanged, be sure to list the credit as: By Melati Kaye under Mongabay.org’s Special Reporting Initiative Program.

Reporter’s Journal: a different kind of leopard

March 24th, 2014

By Melati Kaye

Photo copyright (c) 2014 Melati Kaye.

March is leopard coral grouper season in South Sulawesi’s Spermonde islands. The live fish sell for $30 per kilogram. Dead fish fetch less than a third of that price. Careful hook and line fishermen can sometimes manage to keep their catch alive. But a surer method is to stun the fish with cyanide, an illegal but widespread practice.

This photo was taken by Mongabay.org’s Special Reporting Initiatives fellow Melati Kaye, while she was in Sulawesi reporting on the live reef fish trade to East Asia.

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This post is published under an Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International license.  If you would like to reprint this piece, unchanged, be sure to list the credit as: By Melati Kaye under Mongabay.org’s Special Reporting Initiative Program.

Indonesians working together to save Sumatran tigers

October 29th, 2013

Reader contribution by Matthew S. Luskin

Indonesians are committed to ensuring the persistence of Sumatran tigers. The gamut of island-wide conservation efforts was discussed this week in Padang, West Sumatra, during the annual meeting of HarimauKita (harimau means “tiger” in Indonesian), which brought together a consortium of stakeholders for Sumatran tiger conservation. Members worked late into each night to coordinate and evaluate existing research and conservation efforts across all 8 Sumatran provinces.

The all-Indonesian collaborative forum included scientists from Indonesian universities and big NGOs (Flora and Fauna International, World Wildlife Fund, and Wildlife Conservation Society), as well as representatives from the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry, the Asia Pulp and Paper (the largest logging company in Sumatra), the oil palm producer PT Tidar Kerinci Agung (TKA), PT Chevron Asia Pacific, and the for-profit conservation organization PT Restorasi Ekosistem Indonesia (REKI). The diversity of stakeholders with different approaches to conservation enabled lively discussions and out-of-the-box thinking.

HarimauKita in progress.

Discussions focused on accurately tracking tiger populations (no easy task), mitigating human-tiger conflict, such as attacks on humans or livestock, and connecting tiger forest habitats, such as with habitat corridors. To track tiger populations, HarimauKita reviewed the activity of 19 ongoing research programs spread across Sumatra, most of which primarily employ camera traps. HarimauKita members working in these landscapes reported high tiger occupancy in some previously logged forests and in forests fragmented by agricultural expansion. While this offers a glimmer of hope for tigers in the face of Sumatra’s rapid forest conversion, poaching and human-tiger conflict also continue to be an issue, particularly in areas with high human activity, such as near villages or plantations. Notably, Mrs. Katrini of the TKA oil palm grower described TKAs construction of a tiger rehabilitation center to facilitate the capture, relocation, and release of problem tigers.

HarimauKita’s strategic conservation programs, such as training anti-poaching teams, and spirit of collaboration that facilitates effective communication among stakeholders, are integral to insuring that the Sumatran tiger does not follow in the footsteps of Indonesia’s two other extinct tiger subspecies. HarimauKita’s approach and role in tiger conservation may well become a model for other species conservation.

Photo by Rhett A. Butler / mongabay.com

Sneaky Snakes in Indonesia

September 5th, 2013

Photo by Rhett A. Butler / Mongabay.com

A shocking 449 species of reptiles call Sundaland home, of which 249 are endemic to the region. Indonesia has an extremely high level of biodiversity, which is most likely due to the great size and tropical archipelago make-up of the land. The Indonesian fauna is so vivid, that the colors of these snakes actually camouflage them into the background. Each of these snake’s coloring has evolved to blend in with where it tends to reside, meaning the brown snake most likely lives within the dead leaf litter and the green ones within the trees.

Population numbers of these animals has started to suffer as a result of the rapid industrialization of the nation and high population growth. Many species of Indonesian snakes have been subject to habitat exploitation, illegal logging, fires, or habitat loss in one way or another.

Picture: Blue-eyed butterfly

April 5th, 2012


Butterfly in Sumatra’s Gunung Leuser National Park

Picture: rainforest on Peucang Island, off West Java, Indonesia

April 2nd, 2012


Rainforest tree on Peucang Island. More pictures of Peucang Island.

Picture: tropical beach in Indonesia

March 28th, 2012


The beach on Peucang Island, Java. Photo by Rhett A. Butler.

Astroturf campaign by the Consumer Alliance for Global Prosperity suffers defeat

December 23rd, 2011

Employee from APP's timber plantations

A campaign by the Consumer Alliance for Global Prosperity, a group that campaigns on behalf of Asia Pulp and Paper’s interests in the United States, failed to stop Kroger from banning APP’s paper products from its stores.

Kroger, America’s largest grocery store, on Thursday said it would no longer sell Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) products due to concerns over deforestation. The move came after Greenpeace targeted Kroger, which is believed to be the biggest U.S. seller of Paseo, APP’s toilet paper brand. Greenpeace and other environmental groups including WWF, Greenomics-Indonesia, and the Rainforest Action Network have shown that APP continues to clear rainforests and peatlands in Indonesia for fiber plantations.

The Consumer Alliance for Global Prosperity launched the PulpWars web site after Greenpeace stepped up its APP campaign last year. Its first report was modeled after a Greenpeace report, “How Sinar Mas is Pulping the Planet”, using a nearly identical layout and color scheme. Earlier this year it launched DarkWars, an anti-Greenpeace web site. Meanwhile the Facebook page run by the Consumer Alliance for Global Prosperity at times hosts comments calling for violence — including murder — against Greenpeace members.

While the Consumer Alliance for Global Prosperity has refused to reveal its financial backers, at one point APP said it “supported” the group. Later APP backtracked and said it meant it supported the group philosophically.

This fall the Consumer Alliance for Global Prosperity launched a campaign calling for some of America’s largest companies to ignore Greenpeace and continue buying APP products. The Consumer Alliance for Global Prosperity claimed the petition campaign generated 120,000 emails, but that apparently wasn’t enough to influence Kroger.

The Consumer Alliance for Global Prosperity has, on occasion, attempted to portray itself as an anti-poverty organization, yet it ignores research showing the mixed economic benefits of Indonesia’s pulp and paper industry for the rural poor. More about the economics of the pulp and paper industry in Indonesia can be found Does chopping down rainforests for pulp and paper help alleviate poverty in Indonesia?, Palm oil, paper drive large-scale destruction of Indonesia’s forests, but account for diminishing role in economy, says report, and Paper commitments for the Indonesian industry.

Girl Scouts fighting palm oil receive wider media coverage (video)

May 24th, 2011

After five years of campaigning, two Girl Scouts fighting palm oil in Girl Scout cookies are receiving wider media coverage this week after meeting with heads of Girl Scouts of the US. The organization has now agreed to research different options, such as sustainably-grown palm oil or using another ingredient, reports the Wall Street Journal. Above, the Girl Scout activists are interviewed on the CBS Early Show.

For more information:

Girls Scouts censors Facebook page after coming under criticism for product linked to rainforest loss

(05/04/2011) Girls Scouts USA has censored its Facebook page after receiving comments criticizing the organization, according to Rainforest Action Network (RAN). RAN along with Change.org and two Girl Scout activists, Rhiannon Tomtishen and Madison Vorva, declared today a social media day of activism against the Girl Scouts for using palm oil in their popular cookies. The oil has been linked to rainforest destruction in Indonesia and Malaysia.

Avon commits to greener palm oil

(04/15/2011) The beauty products giant Avon will purchase enough GreenPalm certificates to meet 100 percent of its palm oil use.

KFC dumps palm oil due to health, environmental concerns

(04/08/2011) KFC Corporation, the fast food giant, will stop using palm oil in its deep friers, reports The Independent.

Pictures: Primary forests included, secondary forests excluded in Indonesia’s moratorium

May 21st, 2011

This week Indonesia officially signed a moratorium on the granting of new logging and plantation permits in primary forests and peatlands. Secondary forests are excluded from the measure.



In recognition of the moratorium, below is a selection of photos from Indonesian rainforests. All photos have been taken by Rhett Butler since 2009.



Strangler fig in North Sulawesi

Strangler fig in North Sulawesi


Giant Dipterocarp in North Sumatra

Giant Dipterocarp in North Sumatra


Rainforest in West Papua (formerly Irian Jaya), in Indonesian New Guinea

Rainforest in West Papua (formerly Irian Jaya), in Indonesian New Guinea


Borneo rainforest

Borneo rainforest


North Sumatra

North Sumatra


Strangler fig in North Sulawesi

Strangler fig in North Sulawesi


Rainforest in West Kalimantan on the island of Borneo

Rainforest in West Kalimantan on the island of Borneo


Rainforest canopy seen from the base of a compass tree, Sumatra

Rainforest canopy seen from the base of a compass tree, Sumatra


Rain forest along the Bohorok River, Sumatra

Rain forest along the Bohorok River, Sumatra


Gunung Leuser rain forest, Sumatra

Gunung Leuser rain forest, Sumatra


Rainforest in West Kalimantan, Borneo

Rainforest in West Kalimantan, Borneo


Rainforest in West Kalimantan, Borneo

Rainforest in West Kalimantan, Borneo


Rainforest in Indonesian Borneo

Rainforest in Indonesian Borneo


Arfak cloud forest

Arfak cloud forest


Rainforest in Indonesian Borneo

Rainforest in Indonesian Borneo


Indonesian Borneo

Indonesian Borneo


North Sulawesi

North Sulawesi


West Kalimantan, Borneo

West Kalimantan, Borneo


West Kalimantan, Borneo

West Kalimantan, Borneo


West Kalimantan, Borneo

West Kalimantan, Borneo


Indonesian Borneo

Indonesian Borneo


Indonesian Borneo

Indonesian Borneo


Sumatra rain forest

Sumatra rain forest


River valley in the Arfak mountains, West Papua

River valley in the Arfak mountains, West Papua


West Kalimantan, Borneo

West Kalimantan, Borneo


Indonesian Borneo

Indonesian Borneo


Wild Geranium in Indonesian Borneo

Wild Geranium in Indonesian Borneo


Cloud forest in New Guinea

Cloud forest in New Guinea


Rainforest creek in Taman Hutan Raya, South Kalimantan, Borneo

Rainforest creek in Taman Hutan Raya, South Kalimantan, Borneo


Tangkoko, North Sulawesi

Tangkoko, North Sulawesi


Rainforest in West Kalimantan

Rainforest in West Kalimantan


Rainforest in Indonesian Borneo

Rainforest in Indonesian Borneo


Triangular buttress roots in Indonesian Borneo

Triangular buttress roots in Indonesian Borneo


Giant rain forest tree with a warning on the trunk, West Kalimantan

Giant rain forest tree with a warning on the trunk, West Kalimantan


Note: Nearly all the forests pictured above can be classified as “secondary forests” and therefore subject to logging under the moratorium