A group of Southern Cross University students are about to spend two weeks in a Sumatran village helping rescued elephants.
The students will be developing a food plantation for the elephants, constructing small dams and reforestation projects, and teaching swimming and English to locals.
For second-year Bachelor of Environmental Science/Marine Science and Management student Nyomi Bodley, it will be the first time she has seen an elephant.
Nyomi received the Mayor of Lismore Scholarship in 2017 and lives with her family in Coraki on a 10-acre farm. She said it would be a big change experiencing a new culture in Indonesia.
‘I’ve never seen an elephant before and this is my first trip to Asia so I know this is going to be a life-changing experience for me, and hopefully for the elephants and people we get to work with,” Nyomi said.
‘I’m really excited about the trip and being able to experience a new culture and take part in a conservation project in a developing country.
‘This whole experience will add so much to what I’m studying, by learning how to work with a team of students across disciplines, working in a different culture with different political agendas, and making lots of new connections with new people which might help in my future career.’
Nyomi will head to Bali for a short holiday before meeting with the rest of the team in Jakarta on February 10 and then flying to Way Kambas National Park to begin the University project.
This is the sixth student team Southern Cross University lecturer Dr David Lloyd has led to the region in as many years, working alongside local veterinary surgeon, Claire Oelrichs who heads up Save Indonesian Endangered Species.
Each student is required to raise $1500 towards on-the-ground works with conservation group Save Indonesian Endangered Species Fund (SIES), which supports the Way Kambas Elephant Conservation Centre where about 70 elephants are being cared for. Around 200 wild Sumatran elephants, 45 rhinoceros and 50 tigers are living in the greater Way Kambas National Park.
‘This year we are focusing primarily on establishing an elephant food farm to produce higher quantities of quality, nutritious food for the 70 elephants in the centre,’ Dr Lloyd said.
‘The extra funds raised will pay for small dams in the park to preserve against climate change, firefighting, anti-poaching patrol, reforestation, elephant protection and rescue.’