Expedition to Sumatra

This is an extract from my wildlife travel diary – Sumatra 15-31st January 2016 on an expedition with the LEAP programme:  For more information about LEAP (Landscape, Ecology and Primatology) project visit:  http://go-leap.wix.com/home


Preparation time between New Year and the date of departure rapidly disappeared. Kit gathered, arrangements made and now the journey ahead begins.

I am travelling with Associate Prof. Amanda Korstjens and Professor Ross Hill to Northern Sumatra. The primary purpose of this expedition is to pave the way for research students to determine habitat requirements for primate and elephants; particularly examining how forest structure influences primate and elephant population.  There are also contacts to be made in Sumatra, people to visit and networks to be consolidated.  I am joining the expedition in order to evaluate the relation between ecotourism and conservation in Northern Sumatra and the threats and opportunities to ecotourism development.

As a small child with my Atlas, Sumatra was a remote island that featured only in films. An exotic place of rainforest, ocean and colourful, creative people with tribal customs and beliefs.

Of course my 1970s Atlas and the images and perceptions it created for me then and now bear no semblance to reality. Whilst I was happy looking at photographs of the rainforest, from my bedroom, the 1970’s loggers were hard at work depleting this precious resource. This depletion has raged unabated. Today much of it is uprooted for agriculture and particularly palm oil.

Our journey from London to Kuala Lumpur and then on to Medan was uneventful. We stayed the night in Medan and prepared for our onward journey……..