Getting to Know Our Local Scholars

By Mariamah Achmad, Conservation Education Manager

For the past month, the GPOCP office in Ketapang has been alive with youthful chatter as we had our Bornean Orangutan Caring Scholarship (BOCS) recipients here to participate in their internship as part of their scholarship requirement. The BOCS is designed for local students in the Gunung Palung landscape who are interested in orangutan and forest conservation and who otherwise might not be financially able to attend college. Our partners at Orangutan Outreach and Orang Utan Republik Foundation help provide the recipients with tuition and related fees to attend Tanjungpura University (UNTAN) in Pontianak, West Kalimantan. This past month our previous recipients made an educational video about what Gunung Palung National Park means to them, helped spread the word about World Orangutan Day throughout Ketapang, and supported our Environmental Education team with field trips, lectures and expeditions to local villages and schools throughout the area.

Our BOCS interns educating young students about orangutans and conservation at a local school using puppets and games.

This year we are fortunate enough to offer six more students college scholarships as part of the BOCS programs. Our students hail from the regencies of Kayong Utara and Ketapang. We are excited to have Supriadi, Victor, Sari, and Dedi, who are studying forestry, and Erwan and Nur, who are studying biological science.

Our 2016 BOCS recipients are from left to right, Nur Sholihin, Victor Samudera, Ervan Wahyudi, Sari Ulandari, Supriadi  and Dedi Januri. The BOCS project supporters in the back are Dedy Fahroni, Gary Shapiro, Mariamah Achmad, Cassie Freund and Ucup Supraitna.  

Supriadi enjoys singing, dancing and spending time in nature. He plans to take advantage of this opportunity to gain the skills necessary to educate people on the importance of maintaining healthy ecosystems throughout the world. He has seen the environmental damage caused by converting land into oil palm plantations and he hopes to be an ambassador for young students by campaigning for the importance of conservation and sustainability.

Victor Samudera understands that the environment provides everything necessary for human life. He is worried about the amount of illegal mining and logging occurring in his hometown and has experienced landslides and floods because of those activities. To mitigate these effects, Victor plans to start a reforestation project in his neighborhood and educate neighbors on how to properly dispose of waste and save on energy.

Sari Ulandari grew up in a challenging economic situation and plans to use her education to help her family. Because of her mother’s health issues, her father had to work at home and provide for his family through farming their plot of land. Through this, Sari gained an appreciation for plants and trees, which is why she has chosen to study forestry. Sari wants people to realize that humans and nature need each other to survive.

Sari signs her award with Cassie, Gary, Mariamah and Desi.

Dedi Januri is a young man who enjoys adventures in the wild and was a prominent member of his high school nature lovers club. He understands the importance of orangutans, the forest and other special habitats. He has seen his community taken over by palm oil companies and is motivated to protect the earth and the precious gifts that it provides for our livelihoods.
Ervan Wahyudi was motivated to apply for the BOCS program because he does not want to see any more habitat and wildlife lost. He plans to bring action to the communities by starting small and expanding his efforts for conservation. He also wants to learn the proper techniques to bring clean water back to local communities.

Nur Shalihin applied to the BOCS program to help fund his education, as his parents would not have been able to afford to send him to university for a formal education. The first time he saw an orangutan was at a zoo in Java. That moment changed his life as he realized he had a different reaction than did the other visitors. He believes these amazing animals should be kept in the wild and is concerned about the tragic state of orangutans because of hunting and deforestation. He hopes to gain knowledge and experience from GPOCP to do positive work and raise awareness in his community once he graduates.

We want to say congratulations for a job well done this month for the activities completed by our interns and we want to give our new BOCS recipients a warm welcome to GPOCP. We look forward to working together over the next few years as you learn about orangutans and rainforest conservation.

BOCS recipient, Nur, accepting his scholarship award.