In 2012, a woman with a sparkle in her eye and a spring in her step, who had been traveling around Indonesia and several other parts of the world for 12 years, decided to return home, to Aceh. Having graduated from the University of Gadjah Mada, Yogyakarta, a province established by a deep understanding of culture, her knowledge from her studies and experiences have made her a worldly and educated young woman. Returning to Aceh she decided to visit all the districts of her homeland – gaining knowledge and understanding of her diverse culture with her new understanding of the world. Through her journeys she learnt about the different cultures from each district; sleeping in local houses, learning from and swapping stories with old farmers and fishermen, meeting illegal miners, protected wildlife traders, and local environmental protection actors… From each experience she saw a different perspective and learnt a different life story. While travelling and absorbing each tale, her understanding of her homeland slowly took shape, carving out a solid structure in her mind. But there was one journey that shifted her perspective in a way that would change even the path of her own story. While exploring Simeuleu Island she met a woman who sold Shark meat at the local market;
“Ibu, that shark… do you know it is protected?” “I do… I have heard of several actions built to protect this fish… But, are these activists, are they caring my life? Can they give me a job or money if I’m not selling this again? No they don’t! Anyway, there are too many shark in our sea!”
This problem niggled at the back of her mind, long after the conversation ended. What is the best solution for this problem? And as she continued to explore and learn she saw many other environmental problems happening throughout Aceh; forests were being burnt, palm oil plantations were cutting into valuable ecosystems, land conflicts, elephant conflicts, poachers swarmed over protected wildlife… She kept thinking, she kept learning, she operated modest anthropological research projects… and quietly, a thought started to grow and plant roots in her mind… to develop a small-scale eco-tourism operation. When she finally returned to Banda Aceh, she met a young, local Acehnese man… full of critique but with equal sparkle and energy in his eyes. From him she learnt another, new perspective, that balanced her path of thinking. They shared their stories and knowledge and confided in their dreams and ideas… and together they agreed to make a unique tourism operation. As they started to put their idea into action they were faced by an assortment of responses; laughter, doubt, surprise and admiration. But most importantly support from friends, family and new acquaintances. One and a half years later, of testing, adjusting and compiling the best approach to grow a small-scale, responsible tourism operator, designed to benefit the environment and social culture of their homeland without extremely changing their entire society life. They called this creation Conservation Tourism.
Their names are Ferzya and Ferry Gelluny.
Our planet is amazing, Aceh as the last place on Earth who’s Orangutans, Sun Bears, Tigers, Rhinos and Elephants still live together in one place in their natural habitat. The challenge is many communities see wildlife as a threat of their livelihoods. Wildlife tend to wander beyond man made boundaries as their habitats get smaller and smaller, raiding crops that locals would normally eat or sell for their own future. As a result of this human-wildlife interface, communities start to hunt wildlife to protect their land and still other poacher participate wildlife trafficking to earn income. To help communities realize the benefit of conserving wildlife is one of our biggest challenges. But we believe that your travel can turn into positive benefits for society and environment. Our goal is to generate alternative jobs for poachers and local woman while supporting small-scale, local enterprises. By taking you with us, we will give you the most fun and valuable tour experience ever, while we are able to support our homeland!