Aceh is currently preparing to open over 1.2 million hectares of protected forest for the development of mines, plantations, roads, logging and palm oil expansion. This devastating plan would reduce total forest cover of Aceh from 68% to 45% and see the destruction of Tripa and other areas of the protected Leuser Ecosystem driving Sumatran orangutan, elephants, tigers and rhinos to extinction.
Act now! This must be stopped.
Donate > http://www.sumatranorangutan.org
Reports state that a group of local fishermen spotted the adult female orangutan carrying a small male infant (less than 1 year old) isolated and trapped in a single tree. With no other trees nearby SOCP said, it was impossible for the adult ape and her baby to get away without descending to the ground near them.
According to a joint press release by SOCP: comprising PanEco Foundation (Switzerland), Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) Aceh, and Yayasan Ekosistem Lestari (YEL) Medan, the fishermen decided to try and capture the infant to sell as a pet. SOCP explained:
First they had to cross a deep and wide drainage canal dug by the plantation company, then one of the men climbed the tree, pressuring and panicking the female orangutan so much that she eventually fell to the ground.
One of the men then beat the mother with timber and in the ensuing tussle she fled to a nearby tree, only then realizing that her infant was no longer with her. The fishermen were then able to smother the infant and steal him away from the site, with the mother only able to look forlornly on.
The group suggested that although the fishermen had no real desire to kill the mother, they saw an opportunity to obtain an infant and took advantage of it. “Fortunately for the mother”, they said, “she managed to escape with her life” before being badly beaten. Often “orangutan mothers are killed in such encounters,” the organization said.
The fishermen sold the infant orangutan for just IDR100,000 (USD10.40), to a local medical aide working for another nearby palm oil company, PT Socfindo. SOCP said it first heard about the infant shortly after he was captured on Jan. 26, but that staff had difficulty monitoring the pet as he was kept out of sight behind the house. After peering through a fence, SOCP spotted the animal being bathed and moved in to seize him.
SOCP veterinarian, drh. Ikhsani Surya Hidayat said that the infant orangutan was found in a very weak condition due to malnutrition and dehydration. Ikshani said, “We already fed him with enough milk and is likely to survive, but he is thin and also has a lot of intestinal worms that we have to treat as well.”
Dr. Ian Singleton of SOCP reported:
It is unusual for us to receive reports of the actual capture of a wild orangutan. Normally we only find out about them when they are spotted already at someone’s home. By confiscating illegal pet infants like this we are able to give them a second chance of a life in the wild.
Unfortunately for the mother said Singleton, her plight could be dire. While this case is “relatively unique” he said, because she also survived, “she may not survive for long.” He explained:
She is clearly hanging on in an area where the forests are still being cleared and most of her home range has probably already been destroyed.
As a result, he said, “her own prospects of survival may now actually be worse than those of her captured infant”.
For her baby, named Gokong Puntung by SOCP staff, the future appears brighter. For now, he is being held at the SOCP’s Orangutan Quarantine Centre near Medan, Sumatra. All being well SOCP said, he will eventually be returned to the wild at SOCP’s orangutan reintroduction center further north in Aceh.
It is illegal under Indonesian law to kill, capture, trade or keep an orangutan as a pet, an act that is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a 100 million rupiah fine ($10,000 USD).
The Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme is a collaborative program involving the Swiss based PanEco Foundation (www.paneco.ch), Indonesia’s Yayasan Ecosistem Lestari (www.yelweb.org) and the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry’s Directorate General of Forest Protection and Nature Conservation (DitJen PHKA; www.dephut.go.id).
Sumatran orangutans are significantly at risk of extinction. Just last June, it was estimated that there were now only 200 orangutan left in the Rawa Tripa areas, a substantial drop in numbers compared to 1990, when almost 2,000 of the great apes were registered. Tripa is also part of the world renowned Leuser Ecosystem Conservation Area, in which more than 80% of the remaining Sumatran Orangutans, a critically endangered species, are barely hanging on.
The SOCP is involved in researching and monitoring wild Sumatran orangutan populations as well as raising awareness over the conservation of their remaining habitat. Wild orangutan populations have been decimated by illegal palm oil company deforestation.
- Pictures: Saving Sumatra’s Orangutans (news.nationalgeographic.com)
- 5 Biggest Environmental Stories of 2012 (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
- Baby Orangutan Smiles for Cameras After Risky Birth (peoplepets.com)
- Leuser Ecosystem Under Serious Threat (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
- Why are Orangutans Endangered (wanttoknowit.com)
- Extinction risk as Aceh opens forests for logging (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
Presented by Volcomunity + V.Co-Logical in partnership with Sumatran Orangutan Society Filmed and Edited by Mark Samuels
Costa Mesa, CA. – November 7th, 2012 –Volcom announced today, the public premiere of the 15-minute, eco-themed documentary. It will be shown on Volcom Facebook on Thursday, November 8, 2012 at 10 AM PST and held onVolcom YouTube’s page for viewing after initial public Facebook debut.
The Last Orangutans documentary is presented by Volcomunity + Volcom V.Co-Logical in partnership with Sumatran Orangutan Society (SOS), and was filmed, edited and directed by Mark Samuels. This film stemmed from a product collaboration with Volcom V.Co-Logical Series and SOS for the Fall 2012 year, where 5% of sales from select Volcom products (by way of its 1% for the Planet membership) we’re given directly to the UK based SOS organization in efforts to support their conservation and educational work revolving around the critically endangered Sumatran Orangutan. This film was seen at select global film festivals during the 2012 summer film festival circuit where it gained nominations in best short film documentary and best director amongst other accolades.
In December of 2011 a small group traveled to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, to experience firsthand, the plight of the near extinct orangutans in one of their last strongholds.
“Amazingly, we found that a majority of Indonesians were uninformed about the severity of the problems and others, including government officials, lack any true resolve to confront the issues facing the orangutans and the forest itself,” said Mark Samuels, the film’s director.
The documentary compels the viewer to examine the causes of the rainforest destruction occurring in Indonesia and the effects an average citizen has on the destruction and the impending extinction facing the orangutans. Through interviews with government officials, villagers, and NGOs as well as breathtaking footage from Leuser National Park and the animals themselves, the film offers a compelling look into the problems and solutions that will decide the fate of the last orangutans.
For more information and the film’s trailer please view:http://www.volcomunity.com/2012/05/the-last-orangutang/
Behind the scenes of ‘The Last Orangutans’ filming Part Ihttp://www.volcomunity.com/2012/01/sumatra-orangutans-part-i/
Behind the scenes of ‘The Last Orangutans’ filming Part IIhttp://www.volcomunity.com/2012/01/sumatra-orangutans-part-ii/
About Volcom, Inc.
Volcom is a modern global lifestyle brand that embodies the creative spirit of youth culture. The company was founded on the principles of liberation, innovation and experimentation, and this is uniquely expressed in premium quality clothing, accessories, sunglasses, goggles and related products under the Volcom and Electric brand names. For more information, please visitwww.volcom.com . Volcom is a wholly owned subsidiary of PPR S.A., www.ppr.com.
About Sumatran Orangutan Society
The Sumatran Orangutan Society (SOS) is dedicated to protecting orangutans, their forests and their future. This is done through:
- Raising awareness about the importance of protecting orangutans and their habitat.
- Supporting grassroots projects that empower local people to become guardians of the rainforests, and restoring damaged orangutan habitat through tree planting programs.
- Campaigning on issues threatening the survival of orangutans in the wild.
For more information please visitwww.orangutans-sos.org
- Priceless or Worthless? The Fight for Earth’s Most Endangered Species (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
- Vanishing species? (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
- Ape Rescue | SBS Dateline (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
- Ape escape: Orangutans saved as their tree homes are demolished (mirror.co.uk)
- Orangutan get chipped for protection | NBC News (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
- Demand for palm oil, used in packaged food products, leaves orangutans at risk (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
- Great apes, small numbers (esciencenews.com)
Vast swathes of land on the Indonesian island of Sumatra have been cleared for palm oil plantations and the native wildlife has been left with nowhere to go.
David Brill reports on the mission to rescue the orangutans and return them to the wild elsewhere.
Hundreds are being looked after by the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program, which also rescues those kept as pets in appalling conditions.
But on a visit to a decimated forest, it’s clear the conservation team still has a battle on its hands to save these human-like creatures.
EXTRA – For more information on the groups featured in David’s story, follow the links under ‘resources’ on SBS Dateline Website http://www.sbs.com.au/dateline/story/about/id/601533/n/Ape-Rescue. Earth 4 Orangutans also has information on Dr Ian Singleton’s speaking tour of Australia.
To adopt baby orangutan please visit http://www.orangutan.org.au/adopt_orphan_orangutan/Chocolate
Please sign the petition at http://www.change.org/savetripa2
Could orangutans become the first great ape species to face extinction in the wild? Their habitat is under severe threat, slashed and burned by companies cultivating palm oil, found in thousands of products that line supermarket shelves. Environmentalists are surgically implanting radio chips into orangutans for research. NBC’s Ian Williams reports.
Orangutan refugee camps can be pretty desperate places, with no shortage of agonising stories of suffering and survival – but also of resilience and hope.
Dr Ian Singleton runs a hillside complex near the Indonesian island of Sumatra where 46 of our closest living relatives live.
Among the orangutans are those who have been seizes from animal traders whose parents have most likely been caught and shot.
You don’t get to keep them but your donation will help keep them alive.
Rock center NBC story: Demand for Palm Oil used in packaged food products leaves Orangutans at risk
By Ian Williams
NBC News Correspondent
One of the Sumatran orangutan’s richest habitats, an area of swampland containing the highest density of the red apes on the planet, is being illegally slashed and burned by palm oil companies to make way for palm oil plantations.
“If we can’t stop them here, then there really is no hope,” said Ian Singleton as we stood on the edge of what had once been pristine forest, home to hundreds of orangutans, but now reduced to a charred wilderness as far as the eye could see. As he spoke we could hear the distant sound of a chain saw.
Singleton runs the Sumatra Orangutan Conservation Programme, an organization at the forefront of a battle to save what remains of the forest and the apes.
There are fewer than 7,000 of the critically endangered Sumatran orangutans left in the wild, according to a 2008 survey completed by Singleton and other scientists. The largest number live in a vast area of swampland and lowland forest close to the northern tip of the Indonesian island of Sumatra.
“Orangutan paradise,” Singleton calls the area – but it’s a paradise under threat.
The key battleground for Singleton is the Tripa Peat Swamp Forest, much of which has already been converted to palm oil plantations. The relentless march of the palm oil business is the biggest threat facing the orangutans.
A cheap, edible oil, palm oil is found in almost half of all packaged supermarket products, from instant noodles, to cookies to ice cream, and Indonesia is the world’s biggest supplier.
“Look, look,” said Singleton, handing me a pair of field glasses. In the distance a large male orangutan moved gracefully across the canopy of trees. We would soon see three more.
There is something spell-binding about seeing an orangutan in its natural habitat, and for a while we were glued to that point, watching these high-wire masters at play. But excitement here was quickly tempered by the realization that the area of forest we were looking at was isolated and surrounded on three sides by plantations that were moving ever closer.
Singleton concluded that these apes had just about enough forest to survive – for now.
When he believes an orangutan is in danger, he said, he sends in a team to track and sedate it, transferring the animal to a sprawling rescue center he runs on the edge of the Sumatran city of Medan.
Singleton sometimes refers to the center as a “refugee camp.”
“These are the lucky few,” Singleton told me during a visit there. “They are effectively refugees from forests that no longer exist.”
And like in refugee camps across the world, there was no shortage of agonizing stories of suffering and survival, but also resilience and hope.
Among the 55 orangutans in Singleton’s care was a scrawny and bewildered 2-year-old named Chocolate, the newest arrival. Merely a toddler, Chocolate wrapped his arms and legs around Singleton, who lifted him carefully from a cot designed for a child.
“He’s a bit thin, but otherwise quite fit and feisty,” Singleton said. He believes the mother was probably shot.
“There’s no way a mother would allow a baby to be taken from her, not while she’s still alive – never in a million years,” said Singleton. Among orangutans, the bond between mother and child is one of the strongest in the animal kingdom, a child staying with its mom for as many as nine years.
Most orangutans arrive at the center as toddlers, many lacking even the basic confidence to climb trees. You’d have thought that came naturally to a great ape, but some youngsters will only scale the branches in the presence of a keeper, who acts as a surrogate mom.
That’s not a term Singleton likes. The aim of his organization is to build the animals’ skills and independence for an eventual return to the wild, though initially many are dependent on him and his staff.
He also introduced me to Leuser, a big male, probably more than 40 years old and blind.
“One day he went too near farmers at the edge of the forest and they took pot shots at him. They put 62 air rifle pellets into him, mostly around the head,“ Singleton said. Forty-eight are still there, and the X-ray resembles the speckled roof of a planetarium.
In the top corner of a nearby cage, 9-year-old Bahroeni was sitting inside a large tire, one of his legs dangling, encased in a cast. He, too, had been sold as a pet when he was a toddler and, as he grew up, the nylon rope that tied him to a fence was never removed.
Plantation owners and small holders frequently regard orangutans as pests, though there is profit to be had in illegally selling off the babies as pets.
“The law is very clear, but the enforcement is very weak,” Singleton said, tickling one of the toddlers, who reacts with child-like convulsions.
The center aims to return its refugees to the wild, in an undisturbed part of the forest, as soon as they are able to go.
As we spoke, a group of keepers from the rescue center carried on a stretcher an anaesthetised young male named Dito. They lay him out on an operating table in the medical center and after making a small insertion in his neck, they implanted a transmitter.
The transmitter will help Singleton monitor Dito’s movements, “so you know what they’re doing, where they’re going. That they are OK.”
On the Tripa frontline, Singleton and his team are now deploying a powerful new weapon: a drone, equipped with a small camera that will help them identify illegal forest clearing.
The area is supposed to be a protected forest, and using fire to clear the land as well as converting deep peat are illegal practices under Indonesian law.
Conservationists did have one recent victory, when one of the worst culprits, a company called Kallista Alam, had one of its operating permits revoked. That’s never happened before, since Indonesia has a terrible track record in enforcing its own environmental laws.
And Singleton says satellite imagery shows that burning has continued, even after Kallista Alam’s permit was revoked.
He is now urging criminal action against such companies and others involved in the illegal clearing, asking for their permits to be revoked, and the peat land to be restored.
For all the horrible destruction laid out before us in Tripa, Singleton remains optimistic, believing that the tide may now be turning in favor of Indonesia’s once lonely conservationists, and that the impunity with which the plantations destroyed the forest is at last being challenged.
Before leaving Sumatra, Singleton took me to an area where his refugees are being re-located. He told me that for him nothing can quite match the satisfaction of seeing the often bruised and terrified animals that turn up at his rescue center back in the wild.
“Now they have a second chance of spending 30 or 40 years in the wild, and of having four or five babies,” he told me as we tracked some recently released orangutans days later.
There was a sudden movement of red fur through the thick forest canopy above us.
“I get a real kick out of this,” Singleton said. “It’s as if they never left, and if we’d not been here they’d have died.”
Editor’s Note: Ian Williams’ full report, ‘At What Cost?’ airs Thursday, October 18 at 10pm/9c on NBC’s Rock Center with Brian Williams.
- Forest clearance a threat to orangutans (upi.com)
- Demand for palm oil leaves orangutans at risk (rockcenter.nbcnews.com)
- Plucky orangutan rescued from encroaching biofuel plantations (go.theregister.com)
- Sumatran orangutan rescued from palm oil plantations (nzherald.co.nz)
- Sumatran orangutan rescued in western Indonesia (goerie.com)