Lifestyle

Mark fights palm oil's eco-terrorism with camera in hand

Mark Glenn Harmony has recently returned from Sumatra, where he has continued his worldwide photography exploits.
Mark Glenn Harmony has recently returned from Sumatra, where he has continued his worldwide photography exploits. Iain Curry

"AS THE aeroplane's approaching all you can see it a dark canopy of palm oil plants and it's daunting."

Mark Glenn Harmony's introduction to northern Sumatra was awfully vivid - a horrific scene of palm oil and rubber tree plantations overtaking more than 80% of the jungle.

"Seeing the dominance of palm oil plantations from the air was a disturbing sight, but witnessing the total destruction of the natural environment wherever you travelled in Sumatra was a deeply emotional experience," he said.

"It hits you how dominant this palm oil and rubber industry is to the expense of everyone and everything."

The Australian hobby photographer spent almost a month in northern Sumatra snapping endangered animals in an effort to raise the profile of the diminishing jungles and natural habitats.

But in the midst of the destruction, Mr Harmony visited some exquisite locations.

"The Bar Balon River near Serdang Bedagai is a beautiful region of the country and offers an awesome rafting adventure," he said.

"As you paddle the varying grades of rapids, circle under an exhilarating waterfall and float through rock gorges with spectacular views, you quickly realise the hidden treasures that Sumatra still offers.

"The jungles of Tangkahan and Bukit Lawang have the last of the wild orangutans and Indonesian elephants, but with diminishing jungle due to palm oil and rubber tree plantations the prospects for these and so many other incredible animals is looking bleak."

The reality set in when Mr Harmony spotted a pregnant orangutan and six-year-old son playing in the canopy.

An orang-utan in northern Sumatra.
An orang-utan in northern Sumatra.

"Knowing these gentle giants of the jungle have been beaten, burnt, tortured and shot to the brink of extinction is heart wrenching and brings you close to tears," he said.

"The diminishing numbers and current rate of deforestation is further compounded by the fact that female orang-utans only give birth once every seven years.

"Sadly, this means they are destined for extinction which will be a world loss we will never recover from.

"Photographing this pregnant mother with her son and another mother with a baby infant was an emotional experience and one that has inspired me to raise the awareness of conservation preservation."

Mr Harmony also encountered a group of elephants that had been domesticated by a local village.

"Until recently these adult elephants had roamed in the wild, however, with their jungle environment disappearing at a ridiculous pace they had become a nuisance to local villages," he said.

"In the past they would have been killed but a small conservation project known as Conservation Rescue Unit in Tangkahan has seen these gentle giants rescued and domesticated.

"Now these elephants play a valuable role educating locals, socialising with visitors whereby you can participate in a jungle ride on their backs."

They also play a role in protecting the remaining jungle.

"Three times a week, the elephants and handlers patrol the nearby conservation park to ensure no illegal logging of the jungle is taking place," Mr Harmony said.

"These patrols are necessary as offenders are entering the conservation park to illegally mill the natural vegetation, then they proceed to plant palm oil at the expense of the remaining animals in the jungle."

While Mr Harmony felt blessed to come across wild elephants and orang-utans, he hoped to photograph a tiger, but due to rapidly diminishing numbers this was near impossible.

"It is anticipated that the remaining 200-300 tigers in northern Sumatra will also be extinct within a decade or two," he said.

Despite the mass of heartache going on, Mr Harmony wants the world to recapture the magic and share the thousands of photos he took during his month-long stint in Sumatra.

He is in now collating them into his second book Inspiration for Life, due for release later this year.

For more information visit harmonyhabitat.com.au.

 

>> To read more lifestyle stories

Topics:  animals conservation environment palm oil photography sumatra wildlife



Brisbane's arts and culture events centre stage

A CITY drenched in culture, Brisbane is again flaunting an arts and culture events calendar fit for a queen.

Homewares stores to fulfil your Instagram dreams

No Caption

You too can become an Insta-star with these fab stores.

Date nights under $50

Nothing is more romantic than a picnic with a cracking view.

NOT every date has to cost you a bomb.

Top 10 Brisbane experiences to cross off your bucket list

Do yourself a favour and get amongst the food truck scene. Eat Street is a great place to start.

A GOOD bucket list doesn’t have to span continents or cost millions.

Six mega sporting events you need to be at this year

Don't miss all the action trackside this season.

IF THERE is one thing Brisbane does damn well, it’s play host.

Six reasons to get to Brisbane this Autumn

The Brisbane Powerhouse has free comedy on Friday nights.

AUTUMN has to be up there with one of the best seasons of the year.

The best things to do in Brisbane are FREE. Yes, FREE

Mt Coot-tha is a seriously gorgeous way to start your day.

HEADING to the big smoke doesn’t have to come with a big price tag.

How to push your happiness buttons

BRAINY BOOST: Exercise is a natural way to boost your endorphins and happiness.

Manipulating the neurotransmitters that make you feel good.

What's fresh at your local farmers' market

The pecan harvest is just beginning, so you will find a good selection at the markets from now. PHOTO: KATE O'NEILL

Pecans and cauliflowers among the new buys, as well as a great tea

Local Partners

Charity has grand plans to help people help themselves

A charity that helps homeless and needy has opened a new shop in a bid to raise money to fund a venture that will feed and skill the very people it supports.


What to expect at Birds of Tokyo's Ipswich gig

The band will perform at the Racehorse Hotel on Friday.

BAND member Glen Sarangapany talks music, pub grub and doing shoeys

Gig guide: Get the blues in Broadbeach

Russell Morris will perform at The Star Gold Coast as part of Blues on Broadbeach on Friday, May 19

Festival fun and top shelf gigs

Tweed's weekend gig guide

Wally and the Gators play Club Banora on Saturday night

What's on in the Tweed

Book review: Mia Freedman's book meets her critics head on

IF AUSTRALIA does have a tall poppy syndrome, Mia Freedman has most certainly been a victim.

Model Bella Hadid's see-through dress shocks in Cannes

US model Bella Hadid attends the Cinema Against AIDS amfAR gala 2017 held at the Hotel du Cap, Eden Roc in Cap d'Antibes, France, 25 May 2017.

It’s like she’s become addicted to shock value.

No room for morbid fans

Chris Cornell.

Fans want to stay in the hotel room where Chris Cornell died

Star Wars' 1977 Stormtrooper head banger confesses

A Stormtrooper is responsible for the biggest blunder in a Star Wars movie. Picture: Supplied

Man in most famous blooper in Star Wars history breaks silence

Man's amazing comeback from monster crisis

Pat O'Driscoll agents Penny Keating and Doug Webber sold 56 Agnes St, The Range at auction over the weekend.

NOT long ago, he sold his possessions to pay staff. Now he's back.

How Toowoomba house prices compare in Australia

For sale sign in front of home.

Here's what $700,000 will buy you in Toowoomba, Brisbane and Sydney

One of Maryborough's most historic homes is still for sale

FULL OF HISTORY: Trisha Moulds is owner of the historic Tinana state known as Rosehill. The beautiful home is currently for sale.

It has been the scene of both joy and tragedies over the years.

The face of the Sunshine Coast's overpriced rental crisis

Alyx Wilson had to rent a $385 unit in Currimundi because the market was too competitive for cheaper rental housing. She is now renting a room from friends who own a house in Currimundi, and says its much more affordable.

Young people feel the strain in competitive, expensive rental market

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!