The Washington PostThe Washington Post

The world's best rainforest guardians already live there

By Peter Yeung

01 May 2023 · 8 min read

Editor's Note

Cutting down trees, hunting animals and even pulling up grass is prohibited on most of the land for the Kajang, a Indonesian island tribe. The Post reports on how they protect their forest.

BULUKUMBA REGENCY, Indonesia - By midmorning, beams of tropical sun cut through the rainforest canopy, illuminating a bamboo hut in a rare clearing of trees. Inside, a wrinkled old man, sitting cross-legged with his eyes shut, whispers blessings to the Earth.

After the spiritual leader, the Ammatoa, goes silent, groups of men wearing dark indigo sarongs jump to their feet and head into the forest carrying an offering of rattan baskets full of rice, bananas and lighted candles.

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