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RAINFOREST EXCHANGED FOR RACLETTE AND RÖSTI Her first time in Europe and already many small (and big) challenges to master. Here in Zurich Citra talked about her professional life. Full view


For three years the veterinarian Citra Nente has been working for our Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme SOCP as the person responsible for the rehabilitation process. The veterinarian from Sulawesi has been working with orangutans for over 20 years. During two weeks she presented her work and updates from the SOCP together with SOCP director Ian Singleton at public and private events all over Switzerland. 

(Editor) What was your first impression when you came to Switzerland?
(Citra Nente) I really liked the colour of the forest. I’ve never seen autumn before. The brown and yellow leaves were amazing! That never really happens in Indonesia.

(E) Did you have a mental image of Switzerland? Did it fulfill your expectations?
(CN) Yes! Switzerland is just as beautiful as in a calendar. All of the landscapes are so idyllic: the nature, the cities, the villages, but also the cows on the pastures.

(E) How do Switzerland and Indonesia differ?
(CN) The biggest difference is the cleanliness. Switzerland is very clean and tidy. Indonesia is also much more densely populated. Nevertheless, Indonesia is no less charming, as even strangers smile at you.

(E) What did you (dis)like about Switzerland?
(CN) The biggest challenge was probably the weather. I’m used to the rain because we have both a dry and a rainy season in Indonesia. What I had to deal with was the cold. Because there are never cold temperatures in Indonesia, it was a completely new experience for me. But I could gain some positive things from the weather, like all the new experiences I had in Switzerland. For example, when I tried Raclette for the first time, it tasted so good! Now I have a new preference for Swiss cheese. A disaster because we really don’t eat cheese in Indonesia. So I will miss it.

(E) You gave multiple presentations about your work. Which was your favourite event?
(CN) I liked all the occasions, but I had the most fun at the sponsorship afternoon. The event was specially designed for sponsorships and I had to adapt my presentation accordingly. The content of the other lectures was always similar. Here I could tell the listeners something a little different and go deeper into the special characteristics of the sponsorship animals Ramadhani, Deka and Lewis.

 (E) You could also attend an event, namely a lecture by Jane Goodall, the well-known primatologist. How was it?
(CN) I think it was the one of the highlights of my stay! We even met her personally afterwards. She is a very busy woman, so it was very nice of her to meet Ian Singleton, Regina Frey (editor’s note: Head of SOCP and PanEco chairwoman) and me.

(E) Would you say she is a role model?
(CN) Yes, definitely. Her work and efforts inspire me. Not only could I learn a lot from her, but also from Ian Singleton and Regina Frey. All three have contributed significantly to the conservation of great apes. The extraordinary thing is that they are diligent and determined, but also humble. I especially admire this humility.

(E) You were able to include the visit of some Swiss sights in your busy schedule. Which place did you like best?
(CN) The Rhine Falls were fantastic! I also liked the small town with the beautiful facades (editor’s note: Stein am Rhein). Of course also the forest on the Irchel! There I could see the beautiful colourful autumn leaves up close.

(E) You have now visited all three programmes of PanEco, how was that for you?
(CN) I found the bird of prey station very interesting because I’m not really an expert on birds. I could learn a lot from Mark and Andi. (Editor’s note: Mark Ormiston and Andi Lischke, Deputy Head and Head of GVS Berg am Irchel) I also liked the Thurauen Nature Centre. We took a walk through the Thur floodplains and looked at the renaturalisation of the Thur. Especially interesting and relevant for me, as Indonesians are currently starting to build walls on rivers and river banks. Here in the Thurauen, however, we have experienced that it is better to let the river run its natural course.

(E) What made you decide to become a vet?
(CN) When I was younger, I saw a cat giving birth. I wanted to help the animal, but didn’t know how. Later I discovered what a veterinarian was and my future profession was certain.

> Learn more about Citra’s work
> Support the SOCP with a sponsorship of an orangutan