Our Habitat missions have focused on stopping illegal mining and illegal logging. We were privileged to work in Costa Rica’s famous Corcovado National Park with their government Rangers (MINAE). We trained the local team on rappel operations (effectively abseiling from a helicopter). We flew reconnaissance missions over the jungle, locating a number of sites where we suspected there was illegal gold mining activity. We split into 3 teams, and were successful in closing 2 illegal gold mining operations. Such missions are high-risk – Twice our teams came under gunfire from fleeing gold miners. Not all missions result in arrests. In Sumatra, the illegal logging industry is aided by corrupt officials and lax government departments. Despite several efforts, we failed to get any interest from their government in tackling the rampant logging operations through their national parks. We decided instead to expose what was going on, and produced 2 compelling episodes of television showing illegal logging in both Sembilang and Dangkhu National Parks. Below are some videos from these and other missions. There are more videos on our YouTube channel.
Video above shows the chase of illegal gold miners, who opened fire on our team as they ran through the jungle. Amazingly, one of the miners arrested turned out to be a former MINAE ranger who just a few years earlier had been patrolling this very jungle.
Our first patrol in Corcovado National Park was grueling, and the team covered an enormous distance over some of the world’s most hostile terrain. It wasn’t until the last day that our team stumbled upon an illegal miner, who again opened fire as he fled into the jungle. In this case the miner was captured and arrested.
We partnered with a local NGO in Indonesia that believed a local coal mine was operating outside their permitted area. Video above was from our drone that we flew above the coal mine, and we proved that the NGO’s hunch was correct, and the mine had encroached a considerable distance into protected jungle.
Palm oil consumption is the leading driver of deforestation. Our 2 TV episodes on illegal logging educated the public that we, as consumers, play a part through our purchases of palm-oil derived products. We also ran several campaigns with networks highlighting this. The video above is from one of them.
Perhaps the animal hardest hit by deforestation in Asia is the Orangutan. Populations of this iconic species have plummeted as its habitat has disappeared through both legal and illegal logging. In one of our logging episodes, we covered a local NGO that rehabilitates orangutan (mostly babies) and re-introduces them back into the wild.
Video above is from an illegal logging mission in South Sumatra, where we had hiked for days through one of the most difficult swamps on the planet. We could hear chainsaws off in the distance and we were desperate to find them. And yet our immediate problem was we were completely out of water.