Trevor Frost is an explorer, field biologist, photographer, and conservationist. He has spent the last 5 years working with scientists and conservation groups to save endangered wildlife and wild places.
I’d like to stop poaching in national parks in Indonesia by starting in Sumatra. In Sumatra I’d like to focus on stopping poaching in three national parks – Gunung Leuser, Kerinci, and Bukit Barisan Selatan. I’ve picked these three national parks because of the charasimatic and critically endangered megafauna that lives there – the orangutan, the sumatran rhino, and the sun bear are just a few. The idea is that if you start small and are successful in these 3 parks you can spread your model to other parks in Indonesia.
My plan to do so is one part science and one part advocacy. We will both investigate and expose the paper park problem in Sumatra. The first step of the project will involve scientific research. To carry this out we will work with scientists from Global Wildlife Conservation as well as scientists in Sumatra to pinpoint those conservation actions that are working and those that aren’t working in 3 national parks above. This information will be shared with the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry (the government agency responsible for protecting parks in Indonesia) and both local and international conservation groups.
Another focus of our scientific research will be using the information we collect to figure out what is most needed to ensure these parks do their job of protecting wildlife. The next step of the project, the advocacy, will be documenting, through photos and video, why these parks are struggling to protect the wildlife and environment inside their borders. To do so, we will tell the story through the eyes of the park rangers and the local community. The photos and video will be become part of a visual action campaign orchestrated in partnership with the International League of Conservation Photographers to direct eyes and resources to the needs of these 3 parks.
Together, the science and the story telling will have a synergistic effect. The research will show what is needed and the story telling will tell the world what is needed. This will move the government to act, to some degree, but more importantly, it will galvanize the global community and through the spotlight we shine on these parks we will be able to hire additional park rangers, provide them with better equipment, and better training, and engage the local community. It is important to add two things. First, never doubt the power of the image or video. Think of Samuel LaBudde who filmed and released footage of dolphin by catch by tuna fisherman and overnight caused major tuna companies to change their practices. And second, remember that taking care of parks is not as costly as one might assume – the average salary of a park ranger is US $3000 – so it doesn’t take a lot to make a big difference in one park.
Location of national parks in Sumatra