The Jakarta Post
Actor Nicholas Saputra speaks to the press during the launch of the Save Our Forest Giants documentary in Jakarta on Sunday. (JP/Masajeng Rahmiasri)
Some say the first step to create a change or solution is to make people aware of the issue. That is what Nicholas Saputra tries to do with the Save Our Forest Giants documentary. Through the project, he and the European Union delegation to Indonesia aim to raise awareness of endangered species, particularly elephants.
The actor, who is famous for his roles in Ada Apa Dengan Cinta and Gie, recently shared his story about the documentary with The Jakarta Post.
What moved you to take part in this documentary?
I started to get involved with the elephants and the ecosystem in 2005, when I went to Tangkahan [in North Sumatra] for the first time to see the animals and witness the issue for myself. Since then, I've traveled around Mount Leuser National Park, as well as the Leuser Ecosystem. So, to be part of this [documentary] is an honor for me. I’ve seen so many issues, problems and challenges the environment has to face, so to get involved and share the awareness is part of my responsibility.
Do you have any special or personal connection to Tangkahan?
I think Tangkahan is a very important and interesting place. Once it was a village of illegal loggers, but then Wahdi and friends started to bring the elephants and now it is changing into an ecotourism destination. Now the people who were illegal loggers or [had the] potential to become illegal loggers have become tour guides and work for the ecotourism project; they are now like the number one protectors of the forest. It’s very important and I think it can be an example to other places in Indonesia. They can see ecotourism as another potential source of income that they can make out of their environment.
You have been familiar with Tangkahan for a long time now. How did you feel when the elephants died from a virus in just a few hours?
It was actually heartbreaking. I knew them from when they were still very young and delicate. It was not only my relationship with the elephants, but I imagine how the mahouts must have felt about them as they took care of the baby elephants every day. They bathed them, they trained them, they interacted with them every day. It’s like losing someone in the family, so it’s so sad and heartbreaking.
What is the message that you hope to convey through this documentary?
I just want to share my awareness about the elephants and their environment. I think by loving them, by knowing them a little bit more, we can do something about the ecosystem according to our capability, knowledge and opportunity, but I think the most important thing is that we have to care and discover more about them. The more we know, the more we love them, the more we’re going to protect them. (kes)