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Raw Wildlife Encounters Presents Innovative Eco-Tourism Model of Developing and Supporting Local Communities at Indecon and WWF Indonesian National Conference

September 5, 2016 Conferences No Comments Email Email

CEO, Jess McKelson from Raw Wildlife Encounters (RAW) has been invited to give the Keynote Presentation at the annual Indecon (National Eco-Tourism Body of Indonesia) & WWF Indonesia conference in October. Raw Wildlife Encounters innovative eco-tourism model used within North Sumatra, Indonesia has been leading the way in providing postive alternative income streams by working with local communities via eco-tourism to provide alternative avenues of incomes rather than the past of damaging their natural resources and wildlife.


‘I’m proud to be invited to present our RAW eco-tourism model which has been a success, due to the local communities we now represent, support and nurture. I’m excited to present on how, I was able to develop and introduce this model into communities which were involved in damaging their natural resources, and how they have made the inspirational change for a long term sustainable future’, says Jessica McKelson. ‘To represent the three local areas we currently support gives me hope we can also be role models for other areas seeking a change in their livelihoods where conservation of the environment, people and culture can be achieved’.

RAW’s founder and CEO, Jessica McKelson developed this leading edge eco-tourism model after spending six months of each year for three years in Sumatra, whilst she was there after being awarded the International Specialised Skills Institute (ISSI) fellowship in 2006. During these years, McKelson was able to work closely with leading conservationists, and gained a thorough understanding of how she could work closely with the local communities over a longer period for a positive impact.

Once back in Australia, McKelson developed and founded RAW, whilst still working at Melbourne Zoo as Primate Supervisor, and began working closely with the local North Sumatran village of Tangkahan and it’s community to assist and support them in turning their focus from illegal logging and destroying of endangered wildlife for financial gain, to a community that now no longer is involved in illegal logging or poaching.  The community, once it understood the damage they were causing, made a remarkable and inspiration decision to become custodians, and be responsible for the forest, and wildlife within their area.
Today, RAW is now working with a further two communities (Batu Katak and Batu Rongring) living on the edge of the Gunung Leuser National Park (GLNP) North Sumatra, where they have requested McKelsons’ eco-tourism model and assistance to develop alterative livelihood via eco-tourism and to stop illegal logging and bird poaching activities. Using the exact model that made Tangkahan as success, McKelson and her local RAW staff, are now able to introduce this strategy into these key local communities, bringing about unity and and a world first for positive change to their livelihoods.

It began by leading eco-tours to Tangkahan, bringing in overseas travellers to experience the wonders of the community, forest and wildlife and was one of the first steps in creating positive change to this community. McKelson worked closely with the locals, developing and taking them through training programs that provided them with the understanding and skills to become local guides, and share their local knowledge and cultures.  With the success of bringing together a local community, and developing the RAW Sumatra Indonesia Programs, McKelson was able to engage in a number of leading edge initiatives that allowed RAW, McKelson and RAWs travellers to give back into these communities they visited.  RAW travellers who visit these local communities, consistently provide feedback back to RAW, that they have had life-changing experiences after spending time with these incredible local people.

Due to RAW’s unique style of small group eco travel, they are able to personally connect their travellers with the communities and conservation projects their travel dollars support.  In the past six years, RAW and their travellers have generated over one million dollars back into the local eco-tourism economy within North Sumatra, and over $500,000 has gone back into the Sumatran orangutan and community based conservation initiatives.  For this reason McKelson and her RAW Indonesia team are called on to represent ecotourism, and as leaders to guide other local communities.

For more information or to organise an interview with Ms McKelson to find out more about the specifics of this model, please email Deb at or call on +61 419246850    Photos available on request.

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