Conserving Sumatra Documentary


I am a wildlife filmmaker from the UK. Last year I headed to Sumatra to create a documentary about the conservation that is happening there. In particular I was following the actions of young conservationist Pungky Nanda Pratama. He is a hero to say the least. Driven by his passion for the natural world, he works endlessly to educate, protect, and conserve the land that he loves. His story is very special and the people he works with have their own incredible stories.

Conserving Sumatra
I spent a month in the South of Sumatra filming incredible conservation including elephant sanctuaries, camera trapping looking for tigers, talks with illegal loggers and poachers, teaching in rural schools and restoring the rainforests. Whilst filming these actions, we encountered lots of fascinating wildlife, the weird, the wonderful, the dangerous and a much too close encounter with a three metre Southeast Asian Water Monitor Lizard. We also witnessed the devastating impact of logging, oil palm plantation and poaching. 90% of the documentary has been filmed and now comes the hardest part...

The last 10% to be filmed will be Sumatran Orangutan conservation with the Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) in Jambi and searching for wild Orangutan in Aceh, which is why I have set up a GoFundMe page. The FZS has set up a Jungle School which teaches orphaned Orangutan the skills needed to survive in the wild upon release. Not only that, the toughest challenge is to complete the editing of the documentary. That means costs for original music production, narrator, software and marketing, see breakdown:

- £4500 cost of expenses for return trip to Sumatra and cover Pungky's costs
- £2000 original music production
- £4000 narration 
- £1000 marketing and film festival entry costs
- £60 3D software

I do not profit from any of the funds raised. My time for editing is not covered. I am merely looking for the expenses to be covered. Any funds raised over the target will go towards covering editing time and future conservation documentary projects. 

This documentary is one of a kind. No one has taken on such a big project, covering a huge array of conservation being carried out in Sumatra. These are the untold stories of dedicated and passionate individuals who are the unsung hero's of conservation. Their work is producing fantastic results with positive change occurring across Sumatra. Their journey isn't an easy one and the documentary gives a real account of challenges they face. Illegal logging, pet trades and poaching, all told truthfully. This is the true state of Sumatra, one which provides hope for the future. 

Please help their stories be told and educate the world on what can be done to protect the environment in Sumatra, and across the globe!

Meet the Team
James Stevens (Director)

James Stevens (JEGS Media) award-winning filmmaker, photographer, singer/songwriter and artist from Gloucestershire, United Kingdom. James has been inspired by the natural world from a very young age. His natural curiosity for nature developed into an aspiring career as a wildlife filmmaker. He has now had credits including the BBC.

Since graduating from University in 2016, James has focused most of his time learning about, and filming the wildlife up in the Scottish Highlands. The saying goes “if you can film wildlife in Scotland, you can film wildlife anywhere in the world” for Scotland’s wildlife boasts many challenges. Not only does he continue to work in film and photography, but also guides Scottish wildlife holidays, taking guests all throughout Scotland in search of stunning wildlife.

Conserving Sumatra is his latest and biggest project to date, focusing on the fantastic conservation being carried out on an island which faces many challenges. 

See his work here: 

40620756_1563122434861207_r.jpegPungky Nanda Pratama (Conservationist)

Pungky has been working for 5 years, actively involved in conservation projects since leaving university. The first conservation work that he undertook was as a volunteer, working on a mangrove and sea turtle project in his native home of East Java, more recently he has been employed as an Environmental Educator with a local NGO called Animals Indonesia.

In 2018, Pungky left his job to start his own project called The Jungle Library Project , which focuses on environmental education in rural schools. The project is a collaboration with friends and is supported by the Conservation Agency of South Sumatra. In 2018 he also took on a project called The Sumatra Camera Trap Project  founded by him and Anthony Hearn. The project targets 6 rare and endangered species, including Sumatran Tiger in Isau-Isau Nature Reserve, a place unresearched for over 30 years. He is also involved in rescuing flora from areas of forest being cut down. Working with the Conservation Agency, Pungky attends mediations with illegal loggers and poachers, as well as working at an elephant sanctuary. 

In More Detail

The 6th largest island in the world, Sumatra is home to wildlife found no where else. It is truly a unique place, with a vibrant culture, stunning scenery and incredibly wildlife. Few places capture the imagination of adventurers and naturalists alike.

However, over the past 35 years, 50% of it’s rainforest has vanished, along with it many species of wildlife. Populations of flora and fauna have plummeted, resulting in many species being listed as endangered or critically endangered. Severe logging and poaching have left many parts of Sumatra devoid of wildlife. Where biodiverse and rich rainforest ecosystems once stood, palm oil plantations now stand. A crop which undoubtably provides many products which we consume, but at what cost?

Globally the view of Sumatra has turned more and more negative. Images of orangutan clinging onto remaining trees whilst the forest burns around it, tiger skins spread out for sale, songbirds caged up for pet trade. It’s a harrowing reality which the media focuses on creating the impression that all hope is lost. But all hope is NOT lost. Organisations and individuals are working endlessly to create positive change for Sumatra’s wildlife and habitats. This is the basis of the film ‘Conserving Sumatra’, showing the amazing stories of conservation and provide hope.

One of those individuals is 25 year old Pungky Nanda Pratama. Brought up on Java Island, Pungky grew up being inspired by the nature that surrounded him. Now living in Sumatra, Pungky is following his heart and working incredibly hard to educate, protect and conserve. Projects including the Jungle Library Project, Mangrove and Sea Turtle Project and his latest venture The Sumatra Camera Trap Project.

The Conflict

Issues facing the destruction of natural habitats is a global issue and is certainly nothing new. Ecosystems are being destroyed at an astounding rate. Water systems are being polluted, plastics fill the oceans and forests are being cleared. Human consumption is leading to a ever-growing demand for products, products which apparently can only occur once natural areas are removed.

In Sumatra this story is all but apparent. Half of its rainforest have been destroyed in the past 35 years. A rate so fast that by 2050 Sumatra could be rainforest-free. Often believed to be the only source of income, land owners are selling their land to survive and in turn palm oil plantations appear. A plant which can support very few species. Any animal that turns to palm oil to survive may very well be killed if it is deemed to impact on the yield.

The rainforests that remain are still under threat, not only from illegal logging, but from poaching also. For animals that use the forests as a refuge, their safety isn’t guaranteed. Animals poached for their meat, their fur and their ‘medicinal’ properties.

The destruction of habitat and poaching have resulted in many species being listed as vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered. Will we stay silent as these species are lost forever?

The Hope

Thankfully there are many organisations and individuals working hard to stop the decline of habitat and wildlife populations. It’s an uphill struggle, but this does not deter them. One of these individuals is conservationist Pungky Nanda Pratama. Born in Java he was inspired by the natural world so much that now he is devoting his life to protecting it. He has set up many projects throughout his life and is now working on many different projects all at once.

One of the projects he is involved in is encouraging poachers to hang up their weapons and seek an alternative to earn money. Poachers are often perceived as being malicious, evil, animal killers. But this is not necessarily the case. Many poachers do what they do because they have no other means to earn money to feed them and their families. Some poor and remote areas have very little alternative for people to earn a living. Pungky works closely with them to stop their poaching and provide them with an alternative means of income.

Alongside the Conservation Agency of South Sumatra, Pungky carries out mediations with illegal loggers whereby they are given a second chance to do the right thing. Rather than punish in the first instance, they are given new jobs as beekeepers which is a sustainable way of earning a living whilst benefitting wildlife. Interviews with the ex-loggers reveals how they have turned their lives around and love their news jobs. 

Every day Pungky travels long distances to reach small schools where teaches the children all about the natural world and why it is important to protect it. He set up The Jungle Library Project which teaches a comprehensive curriculum to indigenous children living in mega-biodiversity hotspots. By educating the next generation to protect the natural world, we can hope for a wilder future.
  • Anonymous 
    • £20 
    • 8 mos
  • Andrew Guppy 
    • £40 
    • 17 mos
  • Rachel Barker 
    • £19 
    • 25 mos
  • Margaret Baran  
    • £25 
    • 25 mos
  • Carol Stent 
    • £20 
    • 25 mos
See all


James Stevens 
Aviemore, Scotland, United Kingdom
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