Before continuing on this page, I believe it is critical to note that SUMECO was founded by Bukit Lawang Ecotourism, which continues to share its company profits to fund SUMECO conservation work on the ground. Over 499 animals have been saved. SUMECO cannot be separated from Bukit Lawang Ecotourism because it is a conservation-based business entity belonging to SUMECO that allows it to continue its grassroots works, registered officially in Kementerian Hukum dan Hak Asasi Manusia (Ministry of Justice and Human Rights), Reg No: AHU-0008001.AH.01.04.Tahun 2019.
It is a small, 100% Indonesian, grass-roots, proudly stand against wildlife crimes, working on the ground & frontline combating wildlife trafficking.
Background and History of SUMECO
Working in the background to take real action on environmental concerns and to save endangered animals, SUMECO was officially established in 2014. Starting from the ecotourism business in Bukit Lawang, Bobi Handoko, as the owner of the company “Bukit Lawang Ecotourism” wholeheartedly agrees to share the profits of the company to support and run the SUMECO wildlife rescue mission.
Today, birds, mammals, reptiles, and even many rare species are being brought out of the jungle one by one for the massive illegal wildlife trade, hardwood trees are being cut down for the timber industry, rainforests are being deforested for the palm oil industry, and only a small number of people realize that Sumatra’s ecosystem is on the verge of serious destruction. I have shared my attention through studying this case on the ground in Aceh Province from 2008 to 2011.
Aceh was chosen for my research on wildlife poaching and trading because it is known to have the highest concentration of Sumatra’s biodiversity. In 2010, I had the opportunity to visit Gunung Leuser National Park in Bukit Lawang, North Sumatra province, to continue my monitoring and observation with two American primatologists.
Gunung Leuser National Park is well-known to be a region with the highest concentration of Pongo abelii (Sumatran orangutan) and Sumatran tigers (Panthera tigris sumatrae). The Leuser ecosystem is a huge area of forest located in the provinces of Aceh and North Sumatra on the island of Sumatra, Indonesia. The protected zone encompasses more than 2.6 million hectares, but no more than one million hectares; it is also one of the richest expanses of tropical rainforest in Southeast Asia; it is the only place on the planet where Sumatran elephants, Sumatran rhinoceroses, Sumatran tigers, and Sumatran orangutans can be found in the same area; and it has been designated as part of the world’s heritage.
The birth of SUMECO in North Sumatra province was my pure idea; it is expected to be an environmental organization that fights for the animals on the front lines in Bukit Lawang.
SUMECO is a grassroots, not-for-profit organization employing local people. The rescue, rehabilitation and release of protected species held in captivity is the central focus of SUMECO work. We collaborate with Gunung Leuser National Park (TNGL) and also the Indonesian Nature conservation agency (BKSDA) but we do not receive any funding from them and as such as an independent nonprofit organization.
The project aims to have a wide scope with impacts on the population, species, habitat, ecosystem, and global levels. Efforts to stem poaching and illegal wildlife trafficking, as well as wildlife rescue and rehabilitation of endangered species, have an impact not just at the species level, but at the ecosystem level. In a wider context, a 2008 WWF report found that the destruction of Sumatra’s rainforest is driving global climate change. For example, the annual carbon emissions in just one region of Sumatra were found to exceed the carbon emission of The Netherlands. SUMECO is committed to long-term conservation efforts through existing education programs in schools and at the community level. Education of local and indigenous people in this region is vital for preserving biodiversity, for example by raising awareness of habitat loss caused by the expansion of palm oil plantations in Northern Sumatra.
SUMECO is firmly focused on animal welfare, especially the animal species that are found inhabiting the Gunung Leuser National Park. Operating at the in-situ conservation area, it is very important and urgent that SUMECO must have all the needed capacity, SUMECO responsibility is getting bigger and higher, while SUMECO’s action is extremely limited because it’s being funded only by the profits of my tourism business.