Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Voluntary program Pusat Penyelamatan Satwa Jogja

Personal note: The following is an unsolicited report from two volunteers at a GENERAL animal rescue centre in central Java. Photos were sent embedded in the article and I am unable to reproduce them here....if you would like to be sent them, please let me know.



Voluntary program Pusat Penyelamatan Satwa Jogja

Hello! This is a short story about our adventures as a volunteer in PPSJ. We are Alexandra Vosmaer and Dirk-Jan (DJ) Oudshoorn from the Netherlands. Alexandra is a student at the Delft University of Technology, faculty of Industrial Design Engineering, and DJ is a graduate from the same university and faculty. Over the last two weeks we have been taking part in the PPSJ volunteer program. PPSJ is an animal rescue center, where (mostly) endangered animals are brought after they are for example confiscated from people that have kept them as (illegal) pets.

The variation in animals is very big, from turtles to crocodiles, from cockatoos to eagles and from gibbons to orangutans. The park is located in a very beautiful, quiet and green environment, about 25 km from the center of Jogjakarta. Inside the park, there is also a small hotel with about 8 rooms, circled around a big fountain with many fish and toads. The rooms are clean and very large, with a big terrace and an astonishing view! That way the voluntary work is combined with a holiday as wellJ! The first day we got a tour around the park. The manager of the park explained us what kind of work PPSJ is doing, what their goals are and the difficulties they are facing.

The activities we have been doing include preparing the food (cutting and weighing the food so the animal keepers can make sure that everyone gets a sufficient amount of food), for all the animals in the park (so this is a pretty big task!), and cleaning the cages of the orangutans. There are two big cages, one with one orangutan (Boni), and one with two orangutans (Dedek and Gogon). They are all males. During the cleaning of the cages, the orangutans are put in a smaller cage, so they cannot interfere with the cleaning. Very soon it became clear to me why this was done, because when the broom came a little bit too close to Boni, he immediately grabbed it end stole the broom. After Boni ‘cleaned’ his smaller cage with the broom, he destroyed the broom, so I’m sure the cleaning will take a lot longer if the orangutans are allowed to ‘help’ with the cleaningJ!

Another important activity is making enrichment for the orangutans. Orangutans are highly intelligent animals, and when they are in captivity they can get bored if they don’t get enough attention or don’t have much to do. Therefore the orangutans love to get attention, and you can think of things that will keep them busy. Although there was already a lot of enrichment in the cage, for orangutans there can always be moreJ! For example, we have hidden their food in the cage (climbing the trees in the cage to put the food in top), we have made extra attributes in the cage such as some lianas made from car tires, a net they can use as a hammock and we installed a pulley block in the top of the cage, so the animal keepers can put the food on a platform and easily hang it in the top of the cage. That way the food will be on a more natural place, because the orangutans normally also find their food in the top of the trees, and it also could make them more eager to climb the trees in the cage.

We really liked the fact that we could share our ideas with the people from the rescue center, and that they helped us with realizing the ideas! And it was very rewarding to see the orangutans using the new attributes and making fun with it! At the same time is was nice to test our Industrial Design skills J! Next to the hardware we also tested our software skills, by making a poster about orangutans for the information center, which will hopefully be placed there when it’s printed! We even gave some lessons in english to some people from the village! We liked the fact that the people at PPSJ look at skills and try to find something what you can do for them, which will make both sides happy J!

Another thing we liked about PPSJ is that they provide a lot of employment for the local people, for example jobs such as animal keeper, hostes in the hotel or congress center, security, assistant in the outbound area and education. And people that get in contact with PPSJ, for example if they use the meeting center, are asked to plant trees in the park, which creates more awareness and maybe stimulates people to live in harmony with nature!

But of course working is not all that we have come all the way to Indonesia for! PPSJ is very close to Jogja, the ‘art capital’ of Java. There is a lot to see in Jogja, for example the batik (traditional paintings in Java) shops (although you must be careful you don’t pay too much), Wayang dolls, thousands of special Jogja T-shirts, the Kraton from the sultan, the Prambanan, the Borobudur and the beach at the south sea is also not too far. During our stay we visited the huge Borobudur temple, the beach in Pantai Glagah, and we also went to the Dieng plateau, which is about three hours driving from Jogja. There we saw the sunrise in a beautiful landscape of volcanos, the three colored lake, the temples high up in the mountains, and hot sulfur springs! We could borrow a motorcycle at any time we wanted, which made us feel very free and we could go where we wanted to go.

Jogja is also home to a lot of universities, and by coincidence, there was a workshop on primate behavior and psychology at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine during the time we were there! That was really interesting and we got the change to learn a lot about the many kinds of primates.

Next to the fact that there is a lot to do in Jogja, we also got the time to explore the area around PPSJ. We were taken for a walk around the village and got a close and open look in the culture and daily lives of the Central-Javanese people, which was very nice to see! A lot of employees working at PPSJ are also living in this village, and they invited us to the traditional ceremony to celebrate the start of the ramadan which would start one week later, which was a very special experience!

The last night we had a very nice closing party, because by coincidence, there was a party from someone who was celebrating his promotion in the military police at the PPSJ parking lot, with traditional dandut music and dancing! And last but not least, we were interviewed by a couple of journalists and our story made it to two regional and one national newspaper!!

So, it was simply not possible to make this long story shorter, we have seen and experienced so many things during our stay at PPSJ, we can really recommend anyone to do it! We have done other voluntary work before, but compared to the other programs this program was more varying, allowed a lot more own initiative, had a lot more activities besides the daily voluntary work and was involving a lot more contact with local people! And not to forget getting to know the wonderful people that work at PPSJ who took very good care of us, and off course the accomodation that was also absolutely greatJ! There was not one minute that we were bored!!

D.J. Oudshoorn & A.M. Vosmaer

TU Delft, Zwarteweg 68. 2511 VS Den Haag


Pusat Penyelamatan Satwa Yogyakarta (PPSJogja)