Respect your Granny and follow The Rules

Posted on May 13, 2014 in Blog, News | Comments Off on Respect your Granny and follow The Rules

We get regular reports and updates from our projects that we can’t always share with you. That’s why we were so delighted to receive this from Debbie Martyr, Programme Manager for FFI, who has been based in Kerinci Seblat National Park for over 15 years.

Debbie manages the Tiger Protection Conservation Units (TPCUs), that many of you sponsor. Normally we cannot share large portions of her reports or emails, so much of their anti-poaching work is intelligence led we can’t publicise information that may jeopardise their work.

However, she’s just sent us a brilliant blog piece about the rules of the forest! There are a selection of Government Rules in addition to a host of unwritten, somewhat baffling rules visitors must adhere to!

We’ve summarised the most baffling in the picture below, but carry on past the picture to read Debbie’s full unedited list of rules – and find out who Granny is!

Respect Granny and Follow the rules Photo © Luke Mackin

Respect Granny and Follow the rules Photo © Luke Mackin


Respect your Granny and follow The Rules – the full and unedited version!

Every national park in the world has a set of Rules its visitors must abide by – often seen in big black writing on a sign board at key entry points to the park and in leaflets issued to visitors.

Here in Kerinci Seblat National Park things are just a wee bit more complicated.  There are the usual written rules, as set out by the national park and Department of Forestry and there are the unwritten ones.  These, as far as many local people are concerned, may actually be more important than the written ones.

This means that, when we have a visitor – as we do just now in the shape of Scott Bateman, a tiger handler at Dreamworld in Queensland, Australia who, with 21st Century Tiger, have been longstanding supporters of our team, a little briefing before going to the forest on a patrol with a Tiger Protection & Conservation Unit is required..

I usually start with the obvious – to us at least – commonsense rules of the forest such as  – ‘Dont wipe your posterior with a leaf unless you know, first, what kind of leaf it is…” This, of course, is intended to prevent potential catastrophes involving sensitive bits of the anatomy and Jelatan Api – or, in English, ‘stinging nettle of fire.”

Tiger handlers, such as Scott,  dont need to be told that it is inadvisable to turn one’s back on a tiger and that running away from a tiger should only be attempted where you are absolutely certain you can run a lot faster.

On the other hand,  even Aussies, accustomed as they are to a wide range of venomous snakes, fire ants and poisonous spiders,  need to be advised that if their TPCU team suddenly scatters,  shrieking ‘TAWONNNNN” , that they should also run like hell.   It means somebody in the team has disturbed a hornet or wasp’s nest.

I usually also print out a short(ish) list of key words and phrases in Bahasa Indonesia and English…These include ‘Be Careful’ “Look Out” ‘Slippery’, ‘Steep’, ‘Deep’ (as in river) and ‘DONT touch.’   Needless to say, ‘Be Careful’ and some of the other words and phrases are frequently used in conjunction and often end in ‘Oh Sh**t’, a phrase which doesnt generally need to be translated and so isnt included on the List.

Then we start on the really important rules. Not the National Park rules or even the advice about what to do when one bumps a couple of sunbears (bleat like a goat is my advice) but the Customary Laws governing behaviour in the forest.

Rule Number One:- “No Naked Bathing!”  Guests – still probably worrying about how they are expected to identify a Stinging Nettle of Fire when attending to a call of nature – usually just nod politely at this instruction.

Then I continue…’Rule Number Two…DONT dip a saucepan in the river to collect water for cooking…Ladle water into the saucepan…NEVER, ever immerse a saucepan in the river or collect water using a saucepan.

By now the Visitor may be starting to look a little confused. But we have a way to go yet.

‘’Rule Number Three – do not eat rice from the saucepan!  Not even a teensy bit….Oh  and, ooops, forgot… don’t eat standing up or walk around while you’re eating!”

Then I am the one who gets confused…is Rule Number Four the one about not snapping branches, for kindling, using your knee or is that Number Five and Number Four the one about not dragging a branch the wrong way…?  Hmm.

Then I have to try and explain how it is not ‘polite’ to refer to a tiger by name once in the forest but instead use – here in Kerinci at least – the word Nenek or Grandmother  because its polite and, of course (although taxonomists may disagree), everybody knows that tigers and west Sumatra people share a common ancestor.

And finally the by now utterly Baffled Guest can stand it no longer and begs to know why all these rather baffling Rules.

And so I have to explain. When we go into the still vast rain forests of Kerinci Seblat National Park we must not be arrogant, we must be polite and we must respect ‘the one who walks the mountain ridges’ and who rules this forest world

And if we dont…well Nenek will be angry. And we dont want that, do we!

Debbie Martyr

Sungaipenuh, Kerinci

May 2014