Kehje Sewen Forest Camp Manager
Born and raised in a sleepy town of Payakumbuh in West Sumatra in 1969, Gonda spent more than half of his life in Sumatra where he graduated in veterinary medicine in 1995 from Syiah Kuala University, Banda Aceh. After volunteering at a zoo in Medan for a couple of years, in 1998 Gonda joined the Southeast Asian chapter of TRAFFIC, a wildlife trade monitoring network, working to ensure that plant and animal trade is not a threat to the conservation of nature.
For the next two years, this quiet man roamed Sumatra conducting bird surveys and leading investigations on trades of rhinos and elephants. In 2001, Gonda moved to Southeast Aceh where he managed the Ketambe Research Station of the Leuser International Foundation and was often trusted as trainer, coaching tourist guides about the basics of bird watching activities as well as tourism guidelines on orangutans and other big mammals in the Leuser National Park. In 2004, he was hired by WWF to conduct conservation corridor surveys at Rimbang Baling Wildlife Reserve, Bukit Tiga Puluh National Park and Kerumutan Wildlife Reserve.
Also in 2004, the avid bird watcher was introduced to the BOS Foundation for the first time as he joined the foundation’s biodiversity survey team to collect bird data in a swamp forest in Central Kalimantan. Gonda had since become a noted freelance surveyor and wildlife expert, assisting many organizations with survey techniques, data collection and wildlife population distribution. He finally relinquished his freelance status in 2011 to join PT Restorasi Habitat Orangutan Indonesia (RHOI) as Camp Manager of the company’s first ecosystem restoration concession, the Kehje Sewen Forest.
Based deep in the serene primary rainforest of Kehje Sewen, Gonda has been hard at work preparing the forest for orangutans, including phenology surveys, setting up monitoring transects, building camp, helipad and habituation enclosures and more. Gonda is now excitedly waiting in the forest to finally witness the first orangutan release into this spectacular area. His long-awaited dream is about to become a sweet reality.