For more than two decades, I had been eager to visit the four remote and tiny Mentawai Islands off the west coast of Sumatra. They were a priority focus for the World Wildlife Fund in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and a national park was established on Siberut in 1993. Since then, the islands have been largely ignored by the major conservation organizations.
This spring, Conservative International (CI) Executive Vice President Gustavo Fonseca, Regional Vice President for Indonesia Jatna Supriatna, and I visited the Mentawais and found a rich variety of endemic wildlife species and a fascinating but disappearing indigenous human culture. In many ways, these islands are an Asian version of the famed Galapagos and should be considered for World Heritage status.