Borneo’s Vanishing Tribes

Borneo's Vanishing Tribes

In the forests of Borneo, a native community struggles to protect its ancestral homeland from an industry poised to destroy one of the Earth’s oldest and most biodiverse rainforests. Borneo’s Vanishing Tribes offers a glimpse into the lives of those most at risk, the Dayak known as "people of the forest." For millennia the Dayak have relied on the Bornean rainforests for nearly everything. Today, their close bond with nature is being threatened as huge swathes of their once-mighty forests are razed.

A leader in the effort to protect the forest is Wendi Tamariska. Wendi is the Sustainable Livelihoods Manager for the Gunung Palung Orangutan Conservation Program. As a Dayak, he has the deepest respect for the forest and all things in it, and has dedicated his life to caring for it. His main focus is to educate local communities about how they can better look after their forest homes.

Borneo is the Earth’s third largest island and is roughly the size of France. It hosts one of the largest assemblages of biodiversity found anywhere on Earth – over 15,000 different species of flowering plants, a third of which are found nowhere else. Borneo is also home to clouded leopards and forest rhinos, giant squirrels and pygmy elephants, sun bears and orangutans.

300,000 hectares each year – roughly half the size of Delaware. Clearing the land by mechanical means is a time consuming and expensive process, so the forests are opened by using “slash and burn” techniques. The epidemic of forest and peatland fires which raged in Indonesia in 2015 were a direct result of decades of poor management practices and land clearing carried out on behalf of palm oil corporations. These practices have put the future of the forests, and the Dayak people, in jeopardy.