Johnny’s big blue eyes stare into mine. ‘Sa-tu, du-a, ti-ga, em-pat, li-ma,’ I say slowly.
He holds up his hand and counts on his little round fingers ‘Sat-u, Du-a, Ti-gi!’
‘Satu, dua, tiga!’ I say again.
His soft moon face creases into a smile. ‘Silly me,’ he laughs.
We like our classes with Dad at night and then I help Johnny learn some words when we get home from school.
Dad teaches Indonesian at high school so he knows all the words. He says Indonesian is also called ‘Bahasa’ and is ‘the Italian of the East’ and very fun to learn.
(We all went to the big University when Dad got to wear a funny hat and a black gown and he got a certificate to say he was excellent at learning Indonesian.)
Matt and Tony make the most of any new words that they can think are funny. Matt loves ‘ratus‘ because it means one hundred and his nickname is Matty Rat.
The boys love to say ‘Maaf’ when they burp. They also like saying ‘Pisang’ a lot. Dad says they can only say pisang if they can use it in a sentence. So they make up a little song
To give to the cow’
They think this is hilarious.
I was going to do some simple one, two, three drawings – like the ones I made up when we learnt Bahasa from dad.
But as I started looking for inspiration I came across the photo of the Sumatran Tiger cubs and I thought perhaps it was worth looking at drawing some things which really do count – like the numbers of endangered species in Indonesia.
Of course it’s not only Indonesia that has this problem, but its unique environment and its future development make a large range of species even more vulnerable.
I picked out just three species – the Hornbill which is such a gentle, tame bird it can be easily enticed and captured for illegal (and lucrative) export.
The orang utan, which has some celebrity in the endangered animals world for being widely loved and simultaneously widely threatened.
And the Sumatran Tiger which is so threatened it may soon be little more than a zoo exhibit and the subject of artificial breeding programmes. The Javanese Tiger (Macan = Tiger in Javanese) was whittled down to 10 around by the time we went to Indonesia in 1973 and is now presumed extinct. The Balinese Tiger – a small and unique species – is also extinct.
Ironically, the Boxing Day tsunami which was such a devastating event, enabled a rapid entree for many international agencies and led to significant political stability. The result has not been without environmental impact – increased access and development in Aceh and its neighbours, has placed the Sumatran orang utan and tiger under great threat.
The Acehnese for tiger is Rimuling – a beautiful word for an extraordinary animal.
The drawings are all based on photos and I tried to find those images which had captured the nobility and character of each animal. The picture of Johnny is based on my memory of him when he was such a sweet little kid!
The hornbill is based on a wonderful photo by wildlife photographer Tim Laman, There are numerous species of Hornbills, all quite amazing to look at and to learn about – I loved its profile of this wise soul http://timlaman.com/
The Sumatran Tigers are ‘Satu, Dua & Tiga’ from Dublin Zoo (born around 2004) and are from the Visit Dublin site – and since it is St Patricks Day that works doubly well! The photo is beautiful – do take a look at it if you can. http://www.flickr.com/photos/visitdublin/3236633932/in/photostream
The Orangutans are from a photo from the Guardian article about the Indonesian government’s 10 year plan announced in 2007 to protect its endangered animals. I think this is a really wonderful photo of our brothers of the trees. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/gallery/2007/dec/12/endangeredspecies.conservation
If you want to read some rather sobering statistics about Indonesians animals at risk you can read Jasip Ivanovich’s site at http://www.endangeredspecieshandbook.org/forest_indonesia.php
Details of each endangered species can be found in the Endangered Species Handbook (one of Josip’s references)
A nice blog I came across about the forests and biodiversity of Indonesia is http://indonesiacolor.blogspot.com.au/