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I will be updating the blog regularly to track my progress and your support.
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How the donations will be spent…
(Written by Alvin Danker, local tour guide extraordinaire)
Plans are underway to build:
1) A small discovery centre to;
1.1. Educate and inform all visitors of the importance of sustainable practices for conservation to be effective. 1.2. Remind visitors, volounteers and tourism practitioners alike, not to take unfair advantage over native customs, eg. hunting and fishing should not replace a fair wage for services on an ecotourism product. This of course works both ways. 1.3. Culture is not just watching native exotic dancing with loincloth. The proposed discovery centre will help promote a deeper understanding of the culture of the people. 1.4. Profiteering, personal ambition and other unhealthy practices that could derail sustainable conservation. We have already put into place certain guidelines concerning excessive alcohol consumption, profiteering and personal relations between volunteers and natives. Unfortunately these issues do crop up from time to time and have to be dealt with, with prudence, always erring on the side of common sense and caution, because of the far reaching consequences. In my opinion, these concerns should be part of the discovery centre.
2) A recycling centre:- Rubbish in, rubbish out. We have seen first hand the effects of even low level tourism on the environment. Our new volunteer lodge is sitting on top of a small mountain of rubbish left behind by the past 8 years of volunteers using the old lodge. Now we take all of our recyclable trash back to recycling centres. A more comprehensive, people centric system should be set up to include the garbage disposal of the longhouse community as well, with the locals in charge, coupled with government cooperation using the Bako National Park model as a guide. Urgent work also need to be done to upgrade their sewage system.
3) Sustainable Farming:- Work side by side with the villagers and eventually with intrested government departments and NGO’s to create eco friendly and sustainable, natural agricultural and animal husbandry practices to slowly wean them off their penchant for unsustainable hunting and fishing. We already have a UN apiculture expert lined up.
4) Tree planting at suitable clearings of former rice fields or denuded forest. Give frugivores a leg up by planting native fig, fruit and nut trees. Ever mindful not to create future competition between humans and wildlife.
HOW? How indeed. We have run out of money!!! Leo has his hands full with helping to run the rehabilitation centers and all our plans will come to naught if the forests trees come down and the oil palms take over. If that happens, one thing is for sure. There will be more candidates for the animal rehabilitation centers.
THE ALTERNATIVE? There are no alternatives for the jungle ecosystem and it’s wildlife. Conserve the eco system or die. Fires will follow the logger’s. The oil palm plantation will bring in trans border labour on survival wages. Once the wildlife inside the palm plantation is wiped out. The national park itself would be threatened. This is our reoccurring nightmare. There is no alternative.
Aleesha has seen and experienced first hand the work we are doing shoulder to shoulder with the people here and in another equally controversial area, with turtles, gibbons and rare terrapins . She has decided to do something about it. I urge you to support her fundraising efforts.