One man saves the jungle
Aca has dedicated his life to save and preserve the natural habitat of the Orang Utans, Sumatran Tigers, Honey bears and all habitants of the Bukit Lawang rainforest in North Sumatra and lives like a Medicine Man, looking a bit like “Tarzan” in his guest house “Back To Nature”.
Here is his story….
Born in 1966 in Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia, ACA Alamsyah son of a high ranked Army Official, grew up in a stable and disciplined yet privileged environment and received good education. Enjoying life to the fullest, he decided to study law but dropped out after realising that law was not worth much in Indonesia those days and went to Bukit Lawang to become a volunteer for the Rehabilitation Centre for Urang Utans in Bukit Lawang.
Aca has always loved to camp in the jungle and living with the Orang Utans seemed to be the best choice for him. The jungle with its more than 1000 year old trees and habitants became his life passion.
” He became a wildlife guide AND guard in the Leuser National Park in Bukit Lawang. “
While being a tourist guide, Aca met a young girl named Jannike from Holland, who was trekking for three month in Indonesia before starting her medicine studies, following into her famous professor’s fathers footsteps.They fell in love and decided to get married after 1 month.
Aca and Jannike stayed in Bukit Lawang for 3 more years and opened the guesthouse “Back to Nature” and a rafting business for tourists in 1991 in Bukit Lawang village.
Aca made it his mission to educate other local villagers, how to use the natural sources to create an income through tourism without cutting down the jungle, for example using the river for rafting where he provided boats to the villagers free of charge so they can raft with the tourist and create an income for themselves. He became the head of the village. With a flourishing business, Aca, Jannike and their two children decided to leave the guesthouse to his sister to manage and moved to Holland to build a business there. They stayed for 10 years.
Coming from a wealthy Indonesian family, Aca used his business sense and bought run down properties, renovated and resold them.. At the same time Aca and Jannike opened an Indonesian restaurant, which became famous for its food and ambiente.
In 1998, after 10 years in Holland, Aca had enough of the hectic life in the city. Running various successful businesses, Aca returned to his passion, the jungle and started buying public jungle from the government to safe it from being logged down and developed for palm oil plantations. He started to plant fruit trees in his jungle so that the wild animals would not go near the village crops.
When the government decided to close Bukit Lawang and move the Orang Utans to another place which would mean that the locals would loose their income through the visiting tourists and would have no choice but cutting the jungle to sell the wood again, Aca became the local leader and spokesman of the villagers and fought to keep the Orang Utans in Bukit Lawang.
ACA was offered a good position and big funds to step back and be silent but instead he decided to lead the demonstration against this project. The night before the final meeting in which the project was to be concluded and Aca was scheduled to speak for the villagers to stop it, his hotel and private house were burned to the ground with his wife and children only just escaping the fire.
ACA still went to the meeting and it was there that he was told that they would build up his guesthouse again if he would keep quite in the meeting. Despite all threats, he voted against the project and managed stop it from being closed down. His actions of this day made him famous as it has saved and secured the existence of more than 1000 local villagers in Bukit Lawang but it also came with a high personal cost. After the fire, Jannike did not feel safe in Bukit Lawang anymore and decided to move back to Holland to continue their business there. ACA travelled back and forth for 3 years before deciding that he would stay in Bukit Lawang forever… this was the end of their marriage of 15 years! Since then, Aca provides jungle camp sites free of charge to the villagers that they are renting out to tourists, educating them that money can be made through ECO TOURISM without cutting down the precious jungle trees.
As long as Eco Tourism and the Orang Utans stay in Bukit Lawang, 1.000.000 hectars of jungle are safe so please come and support our project!
In 1971 there were 24.700.000 hectars jungle. Until now over 22.200.000 hectars have been cut down to provide the wood for paper and plywood companies.. Millions of trees and animals have lost their lives. Only 2.500.000 hectars are left and need to be protected
Aca has spent all his fortune to buy local jungle to protect it from being sold to development or logging companies and continues to live a simple life as a man of Nature!