Sunday, 22 November 2009

Under threat from the outside world

Images : Under threat from the outside world

Sun, 11/22/2009 Lifestyle The Jakarta Post

Deforestation, which has become a hot topic for global talks in the past few years, is directly affecting the life of the Orang Rimba tribe who live deep in the jungles of Jambi, a province in Sumatra.

The tribe has been experiencing climate change, the shrinking of their forest home and decreasing biodiversity in the forest - an impact of deforestation.

"The size of the forest has been shrinking due to the forest fires or land clearances for cultivation. We are worried about this phenomenon," said Tumenggung Grip, head of the Orang Rimba tribe in the Bukit 12 neighborhood.

Today, fewer than 5,000 people from the Orang Rimba tribe live in the jungles of Jambi. They are scattered across various locations including the Bukit 12 and Bukit 30 neighborhoods.

Usually living on the slopes of the mountains or among the huge trees not far from the river, the tribe is also known by the name of the river near where they live.

Tumenggung and his community are known as the Orang Rimba Makekah Hulu, or the tribe who live near the upper course of the Makekah River.

They live in simple huts made of wood, leaves and, sometimes, tarpaulin. They collect rattan and sell it to people living near the forest. They catch fish and boars for daily consumption.

However, the ever-expanding palm oil plantations and the activities of the people from outside the forest pose a real threat to their future.

"The forest is shrinking," Tumenggung lamented. "What will become of our children?"

- Text and photos by Iman D. Nugroho