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Story Publication logo August 8, 2022

Orang Rimba and Healing From the Heart of the Forest (bahasa Indonesia)

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people walking through a forest
English

The Orang Rimba's bond to the gods fuels their loyalty to protect Bukit Duabelas. Biodiversity is...

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This story excerpt was translated from bahasa Indonesia. To read the original story in full, visit Kompas. You may also view the original story on the Rainforest Journalism Fund website here. Our website is available in English, Spanish, bahasa Indonesia, French, and Portuguese.


The tradition of the Orang Rimba in concocting medicine has played a major role in keeping the Bukit Duabelas rainforest intact. Their biodiversity is cared for through local knowledge that has proven pharmacologically important for the world of health.

A fungus attached to the trunk of a stone meranti tree caught the attention of Tengganai Besemen (65). His memory drifts to an event ten years ago. At that time, his son Nande was helpless and almost died after eating squirrel meat.

Everyone had given up hope. They thought Nande would die. As per tradition, they left Nande and Besemen and travelled to a new place due to the death of a family member.


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After the extended family left, Besemen stayed near his son. The traditional advisor in the Punti Kayu area of Bukit Duabelas National Park (TNBD), Jambi, then searched for hahati mushrooms (Polyporus sp) in the jungle.

Once obtained, the fungus is heated and mashed. The powder is mixed with tobacco leaves that have been burned. Next, it is mixed with oil and then rubbed all over the child's body.

A few hours later, Nande woke up with sweat all over his body. "Finally he recovered," he recalled, Thursday (30/6/2022).

Since then, Besemen has always kept the processed mushroom paste. If there are residents who experience similar disease problems, he gives them the potion.

A picture of a tenggeris tree taken from the base at an upward angle. Two men sit behind the base of the trunk.
The trunk of a tenggeris (Koompassia excelsa) rises in Bukit Duabelas National Park, Sarolangun, Jambi, Saturday (7/2/2022). Forest sustainability needs to be strengthened. Image by Irma Tambunan/Kompas. Indonesia, 2022
Broad, star shaped leaves grow on a vine. They have holes which could be evidence of an insect.
Sengkubung (Macaranga gigantea), a medicinal plant in Bukit Duabelas National Park, Jambi, Saturday (7/2/2022). Image by Irma Tambunan/Kompas. Indonesia, 2022
A man with white hair and beard sits examining a cutting of a plant with several spear-shaped leaves. Three children stand around him. One child leans on a walking stick. Another has his hands on the man's shoulder. All are attentive.
Tengganai Besemen shows one of the medicinal plants to his children in Bukit Duabelas National Park, Sarolangun, Jambi, Saturday (2/7/2022). Forest conservation is urgently strengthened as a habitat for these medicinal plants. Image by Irma Tambunan/Kompas. Indonesia, 2022
Close up of a fungus as wide as two adult hands with brown and black exterior and orange inner flesh.
One of the medicinal fungi found in Bukit Duabelas National Park, Sarolangun, Jambi, Saturday (2/7/2022). Forest conservation is urgently strengthened as a habitat for medicinal plants. Image by Irma Tambunan/Kompas. Indonesia, 2022
Two medicinal fungi grow at the base of a tree.
Fungi in Bukit Duabelas National Park, Sarolangun, Jambi, Saturday (2/7/2022), which can be processed into medicine. Image by Irma Tambunan/Kompas. Indonesia, 2022
A red and yellow puar flower with four long, unfurled petals grows on the forest floor.
A puar flower found in Bukit Duabelas National Park, Sarolangun, Jambi, Saturday (7/2/2022). This flower can be used as medicinal material. image by Irma Tambunan/Kompas. Indonesia, 2022
An infographic in bahasa Indonesia language explains a cooking process for what appears to be a tree bark as well as images and descriptions of several medicinal plants.
Image by Kompas.
A sequence of 7 maps from 1989 to 2008 shows the shrinking forest cover of Bukit Duabelas national park. 130,308 acres in 1989 shrinks to 60,483 acres by 2008.
Image by Kompas.
A color coded map of the zones of the Bukit Duabelas national park shows a range of uses including religious, traditional, and rehabilitative. Described in bahasa Indonesia language.
Image by Kompas.