After 9 months of hard work the Tiger House is complete. Digging and site clearance started in March 2015, and the actual construction began at the end of April, and by December of that year, the building work was finished.
We had just completed decorating the guest rooms for volunteers when the first group arrived in early January 2016 to help with the finishing touches, sanding, varnishing and painting while wiring for the lighting was put in, which lit up the main hall, as well as the enthusiasm and excitement of our volunteers. The second group of volunteers made an excellent job of cleaning and polishing everything in preparation for the Tiger House Grand Opening.
It was scheduled to start at 10am on January 23rd 2016 but as there was no sign of the expected representatives from the Medan GLNP Authority we delayed the ceremony. Many Indonesians have a rather relaxed attitude to time-keeping so this wasn’t a surprise. When, by 11.30am, we had received neither a reason nor an apology, we went ahead without them.
Despite this, the Grand Opening was a success. Approximately eighty-five people came and we were very pleased to see that most of our guests were children. The District Governor of Camat and the Mayor of Batu Katak village were present in their official capacity.
Mr. Ali Rusli, chairman of the non-profit organization Yayasan Hutan Untuk Anak (YHUA) made the opening speech outlining the activities of the Green Life Project and the purpose of the Tiger House. The Green Life staff and volunteers sang the Czech national anthem and the Indonesians sang theirs to celebrate international collaboration for the protection of nature, following which the ribbon was cut by Mr. David Perdede, District Governor of Camat.
Mr. Milan Jeglik, chairman of the non-profit organization Forest For Children (FFCh), gave a speech which focused on the urgency of rainforest conservation and the importance of educating the future generation about these issues. He also introduced the Tiger Commando team, paid members of a new anti-poaching patrol which largely supersedes the volunteer-run Green Patrol. From February 2016, they will guard the Green Life reserve and the borders of the GLNP between the rivers Berkail and Sembelang. Part of their work will involve the operation of the Friends of the Sumatran Tiger Program, a swift response team that investigates suspected tiger attacks and arranges compensation for local farmers for the loss of livestock where a tiger is responsible.