By Marsum, YNCO RPU YABI
My name is Marsum, and I am a Rhino Protection Unit (RPU) member from Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park (BBS) in Sumatra. One of my duties is helping with Community Outreach (CO) activities in BBS. Community Outreach is not the main job of RPU members, but it helps us to be more effective in our work. We always work hard to support the farmers and to share information through Community Outreach.
Once during a Community Outreach meeting in Margomulyo Pekon Tugu Papak village, which borders BBS, Mr. Bambang, from the BBS office, and I were meeting with a farmers’ group. We had recently received information that a certain businessman from Jakarta was offering a lot of money to farmers if they would plant and produce “Jarak” Jatropha curcas, for export. “Jarak” is grown in plantations and produces a kind of oil. Demand for “Jarak” is high, and it requires a lot of space for planting.
During the meeting, a group of people came in and said that they were from local NGOs in Lampung. They asked all the farmers to plant “Jarak” and encouraged the farmers to plant in BBS. The group said that they had a letter of recommendation from the governor and the mayor to organize this activity in BBS. It was clear that these people were trying to encourage farmers to use the BBS area (remember this is in a National Park!) for planting and plantation activity. When I heard this, I thought, “That is an illegal activity!”
I recognized one of the group members as a suspect of BBS National Park and RPU. I knew that his name was Sukarna, and that he was a suspect because he has done many illegal activities in BBS National Park. Sukarna was not aware that Mr. Bambang and I were in attendance at the farmers’ group meeting. We decided to challenge the group’s statement. We informed them and the farmers that the statement was illegal. Farmers are not allowed to plant in BBS National Park.
We explained to the farmers why what this group was saying is illegal. We also explained that the National Park is a regulated and managed by the Ministry of Forestry not the province or district. We reported this incident, as well as some others to the police department. Because of the information and evidence we turned in, the police finally arrested Sukarna.
So as you can see, this is one way that community outreach is effective in protecting BBS National Park. We do our best to help the farmers stay informed so that they can help us protect the borders of BBS National Park.
Translated and edited by Sectionov Inov