Hard Core Scientist to Jungle Conservationist
As a child, I had always been an animal lover and a massive fan of the outdoors. I adored David Attenborough documentaries and wanted to be Gerald Durrell. But I qualified as a biomedical scientist, and worked in hospital laboratories around London, before ending up in the UK Government Department of Health.As a child, I had always been an animal lover and a massive fan of the outdoors. I adored David Attenborough documentaries and wanted to be Gerald Durrell. But I qualified as a biomedical scientist, and worked in hospital laboratories around London, before ending up in the UK Government Department of Health.
Everything changed after I watched a documentary by one of my favourite authors, Sir Terry Pratchett, where he went to Borneo to see orangutans. I knew I had to see the same orangutan, a massive adult male called Kusasi. I did a two week study tour in Camp Leakey, where the documentary was filmed. The first orangutan I saw was indeed the incredible Kusasi!
There was no turning back, and later on I returned to Borneo to volunteer with the Orangutan Foundation UK. I knew that my path was taking a new direction, so I applied to do the MSc in primate conservation at Oxford Brookes University, and spent six months as an assistant on a research project near Bukit Lawang in North Sumatra. During this time I met Mbra, now my husband. He’s from Sumatra and was a forest guide on the research project!
After returning to the UK and completing my masters degree, I moved to Sumatra to help Mbra run his guest house. I wanted to use our knowledge and experience to help visitors explore this area in a sustainable, conservation-focused manner.
The Green Hill Experience
Green Hill has offered guests remote treks around Gunung Leuser National Park from the very beginning. We always take a local guide and support team from the village, who are also ambassadors for sustainable trekking practices. Our guests can get actively involved by going on multi-day treks in remote areas, join a patrol around the Ecolodge borders, or spend time in our community library in the village of Tualang Gepang, close to the Ecolodge.
We know that not everyone is after a remote jungle experience though! Rest assured: we absolutely cater to those who come to relax and enjoy the surroundings. When you stay with us, you are supporting our conservation work, making a positive impact on the local community… while soaking up some incredible views and getting away from it all.
Green Hill’s ethos and impact
Green Hill is a grassroots conservation project, self-funded with ethical tourism activities. We operate our guest house and Ecolodge as sustainably as possible, so we have a net positive effect on the environment and wildlife where we are.
We drive our own conservation projects and base our conservation work in the community we are a part of. We don't ‘do’ conservation to them, ‘educate’ them, or inflict our ideas or plans on them. We do not use our community to gain grants or donations.
We do believe in doing our best to make a sustainable difference, and work with our friends in the communities along the border of Gunung Leuser National Park. We contributed to our home community by buying land for a graveyard and signing it over to the village, when they highlighted it as a need. Working with the local government, we donated a plot of land to be used for the building of a village hall. Through our Nature Club and Community Library in the village of Tualang Gepang, we provide long term educational opportunities.
Green Hill’s mission: Wildlife conservation
A huge part of our conservation programme involves wildlife. And chief among these are orangutans.
Despite the fact that Sumatra is a biodiversity hotspot with an incredible variety of wildlife, tourism in Bukit Lawang tends to focus on orangutans. There was an orangutan rehabilitation centre here, which released the apes back into the jungle but it closed in 1994. But some have remained and have been conditioned to exist near the forest floor so tourists can feed them.
Over the long term, this behavioural change causes chronic stress which leads to health issues like low immunity, heart problems and high infant mortality… further endangering an already endangered species.
It also exposes them to human diseases. Orangutans are genetically very close to humans and can catch many of our diseases, including COVID-19.
Protect orangutans when you visit, with 3 easy steps
➡️ Keep a minimum distance of 10 metres
➡️ Do not feed them or give them drinks
➡️ Do not take or share photos that show you less than 10 metres from wildlife
Conservation at heart
Our Keep Wildlife Wild campaign is a long running awareness campaign promoting ethical best practice for tourism, including ethical wildlife photography, biodiversity awareness, and our regeneration site: five acres of former palm oil plantation on the border of Gunung Leuser National Park, where Kuta Langis Ecolodge was built to encourage tourism. Our years of hard work are paying off: camera traps monitoring the area have shown incredible levels of biodiversity returning to a previously barren environment.
One of my major conservation passions will always be promoting ethical wildlife tourism. At Green Hill, we are genuinely doing our best to provide experiences that benefit — in some small way —the rainforest, its wildlife, and human communities too.