In the footsteps of tigers: the all-women patrol team protecting Sumatra’s rainforest

In the footsteps of tigers: the all-women patrol team protecting Sumatra’s rainforest

The Leuser ecosystem is the only place in the world where tigers, elephants, orangutans and rhinos coexist in the wild, and Indigenous female rangers are at the heart of its protection

“Guess what I found?” Darma Budi Pinem asks the women who have gathered round to see what he has in his hands. “My instincts tell me this is Opung’s faeces,” says Nayla Azmi as she studies the clump of hair, broken egg shells and bones.

“Opung,” in Batak – Azmi’s language – means grandparent, the term used when referring to tigers. The Batak people are Indigenous to the island of Sumatra, the third-largest, western-most island of Indonesia, and many of their legends involve ancestors who formed friendships with tigers that became part of the family.

Darma Budi Pinem (left) and the patrol team view an old orangutan nest

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