03 May Welgevonden COO, André Burger, Participates in MANGSA Workshop in Indonesia
By André Burger
I was invited by Prof. Herbert Prins and Prof. Erik Meijaard, to be a participant in the MANGSA (Management of Game and its Social Aspects) Workshop that was held from the 24th Feb to 1st March in Indonesia.
The workshop was funded by the KNAW SPIN-ANGIN Program which is an amalgamation of mutually beneficial partnerships between institutions in the Netherlands and Indonesia. These include: Anticipation Grants Indonesia-The Netherlands (ANGIN), the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), and Indonesia through the Scientific Programme Indonesia – Netherlands (SPIN).
Traveling to the Workshop
The journey from South Africa to Indonesia required two days of travel either way to Jakarta. From there, we travelled by road to Anyer where we experienced some rather hair-raising driving and thousands upon thousands of scooters. I was surprised by the accommodating road behaviour amongst the chaos – I was definitely not in South Africa anymore!
It was awesome to see the totally different arrangements of towns, shops and houses on our way to our “island type” hotel which overlooked the remnants of the Krakatoa volcano. Not a bad destination for our two-day workshop.
The MANGSA Workshop
12 participants attended the workshop including: various specialist scientists from universities across the globe (Australia, Norway, England, Indonesia, Papua, and the Netherlands) as well as officials from Indonesia Environment and Forestry, Indonesian scientists, and finally, me; a lone conservation manager/scientist from South Africa.
The purpose of the MANGSA workshop was to investigate and discuss the role that hunting plays in the forest-interior villages of Indonesia, and the influence that this has on a broad spectrum of conservation and eco-anthropology. The output was to conceptualize a review paper on hunting management for conservation in SE Asia.
The workshop proved insightful in that the participants swiftly realised the complexity of the conditions at hand. In addition, the vast size of the country as well as limited up-to-date information regarding the realities of hunting in the area will make it a challenge, although not insurmountable, to achieve a quick outcome.
The team put a strategy in place to gather essential information and offer guidance on issues that were raised during the workshop. Nearly all participants were assigned one or more tasks to provide feedback on at the next meeting. These included an investigation of the test sites and, if feasible, the development of a business model and research proposal.
Personally being able to interact with such a diversity of attendees at the top of their game was very stimulating, although intimidating at times, and I quickly realised the unique attributes that each individual participant had to offer.
Highlights and other Travel Titbits
The field trip to Ujong Kulon National Park was definitely a highlight of my trip. It was very different to see different animal, bird and other species in the forest and sea environments, and I especially enjoyed seeing the banteng (a buffalo/cow/eland type animal) as well as a white-bellied sea-eagle catching a fish while I sat on a beautiful island beach (I know, hard work, but someone has got to do it).
More highlights include an evening coral reef snorkel in the warm ocean off Peaucang Island where we observed an excess of 50 fish and other species, seeing reasonably fresh signs of the Javan Rhino while walking in the forests of Ujung Kulon (although the extremely endangered animal eluded us), and staying in the beautifully situated accommodation.
The food was especially interesting. I ate a few meals that will be fondly remembered: a spaghetti carbonara at Bandera Hotel in Jakarta (x2), fish at Aston Anyer hotel, fresh fish or possibly eel (communication was limited) while staying in Ujung Kulon National Park and calamari tubes prepared under primitive cooking conditions on the boat ferrying us back to Sumur.
I was taken aback by the effect of the recent tsunami on both the people and the environment. Seeing this type of destruction first-hand makes one realise what immediate environmental engineers tsunamis are and that their associated repercussions will persist for years to come, if not permanently.
It was fascinating to experience a different country and its culture (albeit slightly limited). Things that stood out: the majority of water used by people was purchased in bottles, dispensers or small sealed cups, the main modes of transport were scooters and bicycles, cars were typically small SUV’s rather than sedans, and there were very few pick-ups, double-cabs, or luxury cars.
It was obvious that litter is a very prevalent issue and despite evidence of a good sewerage network, refuse appeared not to receive as much attention. We found plastic everywhere, even in the national park, and while this mostly constituted of plastic water bottles, lone flip-flops were frequently found in the most arbitrary places.
We also observed devastating islands of plastic on the boat trips between Sumur and Ujon Kulon Island, of which a lot was blamed on the effect of the recent tsunami that had washed all the plastic into the ocean.
I have been invited to a second meeting in June that will look into the practical feasibility of starting the project and, if viable to take forward, developing a business model and research proposal.
I would like to thank all involved for this opportunity, I really found it stimulating and exciting.