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Published: 05-May-2017

Written by: Raw Wildlife Encounters

This month, some of our fabulous RAW guests took part in one of our jungle adventures in North Sumatra. For just over one week their tour group explored villages, rivers, jungles and caves with their awesome local guides and Wildlife Tour Leader Amy Robbins.

Two of these guests were 11-year-old Luke Arnason from Western Australia and his mum Maree. They had been wanting to come along on a RAW tour for the last few years, and this year the timing was perfect. Like many RAW guests, Luke wanted to take part in eco-tourism that makes a tangible difference. With RAW supporting a wide variety of community based programs, there are plenty of opportunities to not only see what work is being achieved in the areas we work in, but also to directly get involved and help us to make a big difference.

Luke is a passionate dog-lover, and when he learned about the Sumatran Dog Health Program, he decided he wanted to help out. He set about asking his friends and family and their wider network for donations to the program, and over the course of several months raised just over $4,000 – an astounding amount!

With most of our programs, RAW guests visiting North Sumatra have an opportunity to see and learn about the important work being done locally: they have the opportunity to meet the local children benefiting from educational programs; visit the new eco-village at Batu Rongring to plant trees, and meet some of the Rangers of Tangkahan to learn about their forest protection programs.

Luke and his mum added an extra day onto the front of their tour to visit the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program, delivering much needed baby bottles (53), blankets and play Kongs thanks to donations from the Orangutan Project and other contributions from family/friends (just over $500). They then added another day at the end of their RAW tour to meet with the dog program staff, so they could see the program in action and how the funds raised will help the dogs in the village.

With Sumatran Dog Health Program Program Coordinator Carly Day they all headed off early in the morning to meet one of our favourite dogs in the program from a village near the remote tourist area of Tangkahan.

"Borjung (affectionately known as Bob) first came to our program in December 2016. His owners brought him to our sterilisation clinic for help, as he was in very bad shape. Severely dehydrated and unable to walk or move, he was given fluids, antibiotics and painkillers. He stayed with the staff of the dog program for a further three days, sleeping by the coordinator’s bed and being syringe-fed until he slowly regained strength. We loved Bob because he was a real fighter and bounced back to full health, and he remains such a happy and friendly dog." said Carly Day. 

When we arrived, Bob gave us his usual exuberant welcome: unlike many of the dogs in the village, he is not shy of meeting new people. Luke was instantly besotted with him. Much to Bob’s delight, Luke gifted him with a brand-new tennis ball, which he refused to put down or share with the other dogs for the rest of our visit.

Following this, we drove to the main village area, where the majority of the dogs in the program are located. Three dogs needed treatment for mange, so Luke was able to witness how we interact with the owners to explain treatments, and require the owner’s buy-in and assistance to handle their dogs when giving medication.

This month we have three new dogs joining the program: Yopi, Buncet and Gesit. All three dogs are extremely relaxed and friendly, and Luke was able to pick his favourite one for virtual adoption. He chose Yopi, a beautiful wolfish-looking male dog with beautiful green eyes and a calm demeanour. As part of the virtual adoption program, Luke will receive monthly photos and updates on Yopi’s health and progress.

“The locals loved having Luke and his mum visit as they don’t often see tourists come into the outer villages around Tangkahan. We were invited to sit and enjoy some fresh fruit with the villagers, who taught our guests some words in Karonese,” said Carly Day.

Carly and local supervisor Abady Manalu were proud to have Luke and his mum join them for the morning: to see how life is in the village for both the people and the animals; to learn about the relationship between the owners and the dogs (more commonly the dogs are used as security against pigs and monkeys in the fields and gardens than household pets); and to learn about the challenges the program has overcome so far in getting up in running in this rather remote area.

In stark contrast to a year ago, the majority of the dogs in the village are healthy and well taken care of, with the owners actively seeking out the supervisor and coordinator to ask for help if a dog falls ill or has an injury.

Huge thank you to the big-hearted Luke Arnason, for raising money to help us run our next sterilisation clinic in June, and for wanting to see and support the work we do here in North Sumatra. Our program could not be successful without fellow dog-lovers, and we are so impressed at Luke’s passion and dedication to helping animals at such a young age! The world is a better place thanks to people like you.

If you'd like to know more about how you can help the dogs of North Sumatra, please visit here. If you'd like to join one of our tours to North Sumatra, please visit here




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