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April 2016

‘Green Oscars’ for Indonesia’s Environment Activists

It may not be typical red carpet of Hollywood movies stars. Nevertheless, their works are inspiring and know no limits. Among seven winners of Green Oscar, coined for Whitley Awards held at The Royal Geographical Society in London, on April 27, were Indonesia’s very own, Hotlin Ompusunggu and Farwiza Farhan.

Winner of the Whitley Gold Award donated by The Friends and Scottish Friends of the Whitley Fund for Nature, HOtlin Ompusunngu : Dentistry and reforestation, Borneo (Photo and caption by Whitley



Winner of the Whitley Gold Award donated by The Friends and Scottish Friends of the Whitley Fund for Nature, HOtlin Ompusunngu : Dentistry and reforestation, Borneo (Photo and caption by Whitley

For more information : Whitley





Sesame Street Explaining Lead Poisoning Prevention

Lead Away!



Goldman Environmental Prize Honors Six Heroes of the Environment

The Goldman Environmental Foundation announced six recipients of the 2016 Goldman Environmental Prize, dubbed also as Pulitzer Prize for the environment, on Monday (18/4). The award goes to activists from Tanzania, Slovakia, Peru, Puerto Rico, United States and Cambodia.

It’s a prestigious award but nothing like Academy Awards. These activists are fearless heroes of the environment which more often receiving death threats rather than billion dollars of advert deals.

This year’s winners are:


Edward Loure, recipient 2016 Goldman Environmental Prize, Africa.
Edward Loure, recipient 2016 Goldman Environmental Prize, Africa.

Edward Loure led a grassroots organization that pioneered an approach that gives land titles to indigenous communities—instead of individuals—in northern Tanzania, ensuring the environmental stewardship of more than 200,000 acres of land for future generations.

LENG OUCH, Cambodia

Leng Ouch, recipient 2016 Goldman Environmental Prize, Asia.
Leng Ouch, recipient 2016 Goldman Environmental Prize, Asia.

In one of the most dangerous countries in the world for environmental activists, Leng Ouch went undercover to document illegal logging in Cambodia and exposed the corruption robbing rural communities of their land, causing the government to cancel large land concessions.


Zuzana Caputova, recipient 2016 Goldman Environmental Prize, Europe.
Zuzana Caputova, recipient 2016 Goldman Environmental Prize, Europe.

A public interest lawyer and mother of two, Zuzana Caputova spearheaded a successful campaign that shut down a toxic waste dump that was poisoning the land, air and water in her community, setting a precedent for public participation in post-communist Slovakia.


Luis Jorge Rivera Herrera, recipient 2016 Goldman Environmental Prize, Islands and Island Nations.

Luis Jorge Rivera Herrera helped lead a successful campaign to establish a nature reserve in Puerto Rico’s Northeast Ecological Corridor—an important nesting ground for the endangered leatherback sea turtle—and protect the island’s natural heritage from harmful development.


Destiny Watford, recipient 2016 Goldman Environmental Prize, North America.
Destiny Watford, recipient 2016 Goldman Environmental Prize, North America.

In a community whose environmental rights had long been sidelined to make room for heavy industry, Destiny Watford inspired residents of a Baltimore neighborhood to defeat plans to build the nation’s largest incinerator less than a mile away from her high school.


Maxima Acuña, recipient 2016 Goldman Environmental Prize, Central and South America.

A subsistence farmer in Peru’s northern highlands, Máxima Acuña stood up for her right to peacefully live off her own land, a plot of land sought by Newmont and Buenaventura Mining to develop the Conga gold and copper mine.

The winners will be awarded the Prize at an invitation-only ceremony today at 5:30 p.m. at the San Francisco Opera House (this event will be live streamed online at A ceremony at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C. will follow on Wednesday, April 20 at 7:30 p.m.

For more information :


My bits of covering rare Sumatran rhino’s discovery and death

Most of conservationists would role their eyes, if not with ‘how can you ask question like that?’ look, when I asked the plain question : why do we need to save (protect) rhinos (or orangutans or elephants or tigers).

On my defense, it is not my capacity to provide such argument to the readers. I am simply the news carrier. Plus, it would be awesome to get great quotes from experts to at least bring awareness about animals and plants into public sphere.

One of the arguments is that these animals are nature’s indicators. If they’re gone, you’d be damn sure, humans too. Okay, I exaggerate that. I mean if they’re extinct, it would be the indicators that the state of forest is decreasing, which also means that humans will lose their source of food and livelihood. In addition, floods, landslides, drought, famine, and pollution. Bottom line, no one would argue that forest is not important but they often neglect that not only humans live off of forests.

Najaq’s case is one of the kind. Particularly, because the ten year old female Sumatran rhino has been deemed as extinct in Borneo island. Then, 40 years later, they made special appearances, exactly 15 of them (minus one after Najaq’s death), which sent out media frenzy all over the world.


When she died, it had also attracted media hysteria all over the world. The news about Najaq’s death was actually topping the news about the discovery. Bad news is good news.

But, it is not all doom and gloom because you got to protect the remaining 14 rhinos from meeting the same fate.Move on, people!

For my own convenient, I made up a personal list when covering Najaq’s story :

  1. Sumatran rhinos showed up again in Kalimantan after 40 years. It can mean that they’re willing to interact or they’re losing their habitat. I opt the latter.
  2. From 15 rhinos identified in Kalimantan, mostly females.
  3. But, there are young rhinos which mean there’re males and they can somehow reproduce in their habitat. YAY!
  4. Najaq was ten years old meaning that she was suitable for mating. So, there goes one female to mate.
  5. Legend has it that local villagers used to eat rhinos’ meat or for ritual purposes. I suppose back then you ate almost anything that moves.
  6. No Sumatran rhinos in Malaysia’s borneo island. So, the pressure is in Indonesia.
  7. You do not tranquilize rhinos! They could drown in the mud and that would be one hell of a headline…
  8. They use pit traps with mattress to create that safe landing. The team actually tested it. No words of injured volunteers so that would be a good to go operation.
  9. Najaq’s preliminary diagnosis is capture myopathy or shock disease. She was suspected of stressing out from trying to release her left rear leg from the snare. She escaped but the snare cut deep into her skin.
  10. Her remain will be preserved as proof to international world on the existence of Sumatran rhinos in Kalimantan. Well, I prefer living ones compare to dead ones.
  11. One of team members speaks rhinos! Seriously, this is the top information. Humans use rhinos language to lure and track them. Let’s just hope they don’t put it into writings to prevent hunters. The man’s identification will not be revealed for his safety reason and the rhinos’.
  12. The government is planning to built a sanctuary but confused on getting the money. Uhm.. Hello, Mr. Leonardo DiCaprio, can you help?!
  13. Red tape. Red tape. Red tape. As much as it’s overwhelming to learn that current government is more than pleased to cut bureaucracy, it would be great if it can be applied for biodiversity issues.
  14. To save the rhinos, they’d need official letter. To set up patrol teams, they’d need official letter. It’s a good think they don’t have to consult the House.
  15. Immigration confiscated equipment of a rhino expert which would be used to conduct autopsy. I suppose the immigration officers were not aware that the country has Sumatran rhino. Another argument to save them! [Fidelis E. Satriastanti].




After rare Sumatran rhino Najaq’s death, what’s left to be done?

It was obviously not a good sign to get a call after midnight. Widodo Ramono, or Pak Wid, a prominent expert on rhino, received shocking news that Najaq, a recently rescued Sumatran rhino from devastated site in West Kalimantan, was in a comma.

I couldn’t imagine the rush or the panic to save the ten year old female Sumatran rhino that night. But, I would strongly assume it was intense as almost all international rhino experts, namely Australia Zoo, Tarongga Zoo-Australia, Cornell University-USA, were hands on deck adding the army of doctors from Indonesia’s ministry of environment and forestry (KLHK), Indonesia Safari Park (TSI), Indonesia Rhino Foundation (YABI), Bogor Agriculture Institute (IPB), and WWF – Indonesia.

Without leaving out details, Najaq was given antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medicine before she died at least two hours later.


Preliminary cause of death had indicated that Najaq suffered from general infection (resulted from her left rear leg injury) and possible capture myopathy or shock disease.

“It is sad and shocking. We would have never suspected it. We thought she could make it,” said Pak Wid in his signature soft voice.

He was confident that Najaq, a name he had given for the rhino taken from the name of the river in the district, was gonna make it because she showed good eating habit, interacted well and excellent blood tests.

“That is the thing with rhinos. Dogs can express when they are in pain. Rhinos don’t. They don’t show signs if they’re in pain. They could move one leg, abruptly stop, then just dead,” said Pak Wid at a press statement, last week.

Before Najaq was rescued, she got caught by a snare on her left rear leg. The camera trap showed that she was relentlessly trying to get off from the snare on October 2015. The snare was no longer in sight but her leg was hurt pretty badly.

She was rescued on March 2016. A very long time but the decision was to ensure that the process would not injure or cause discomfort to the rhinos. It must be done naturally, at least. Meaning that you can’t herd them with dogs or drug them or shot them. You’d just have to wait for them to come across the site by themselves.

In addition, this is one of the rare species in the world, so, every steps must be calculated and according to procedure.

So, what’s left to be done?

The plea from conservationists include adding human resources for rhino protection unit (RPU). Up to date, only two RPUs comprise of seven people, have been established by the government. Ideally, you’d need ten RPUs at minimum to guard the site before extraction process.

RPUs are crucial. I’d like to call them as rhino bodyguards because one of their tasks is to patrol the area for possible threats, such as hunters or traps. In addition, they must also approach local villagers to minimize the use of traps. Besides snares, locals have been using booby traps to hunt. It is absolutely illegal but I would assume that people are also running out of food competing with mining, plantation and timber concessions.

It applies for the remaining two rhinos, named Pahu and Tenaik. After Najaq’s death, their survival have become more important than ever and sooner rather than later.

But, back again to natural. The team must come up with unique ideas to lure them to pit traps to be removed to temporary sanctuary. One of them is ‘calling’ the rhinos. I have never met any rhinos nor heard their sound. I only know that they are solitary and quiet. Apparently, you do can call them.

“Yes, you can call them. And, one of the team members managed to get them to respond. I hope we can immediately rescue them,” said Pak Wid beaming with hope.

After 40 years suspecting that Sumatran rhinos extinct in Borneo island, it is good news not only for Indonesia but also the world. It means that there’s hope to save this unique species. Indonesia has two rare rhino species, Java rhino and Sumatran rhino, in the world. It pretty much represents the country’s commitment and strong effort to protect this species and its habitat.

So, it is suffice to say that the government must also act fast to save them, beyond red tape. I learned that you’d need to get an official letter to relocate them and establish RPUs. It is a good think to be cautious and according to the procedure. However, lesson learned from Najaq’s case, it was quite slow.

It is fortunate that both rhinos are in good condition and hopefully, they’d survive long enough not to be prematurely preserved. [Fidelis E. Satriastanti].






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