Sumatera Orang Utan Conservation Programme
Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii) is one of the most threatened species of great apes with only around 6,600 left in the wild. Threfore, the World Concervation Union (IUCN) has listed the orangutan based on its decreasing number of population in their red list as “Critically Endangered”. The main cause of the decreasing numbers of wild Sumatran orangutan is the massive destructions of tropical rain forest, which is the natural habitat of this key species.
The activities of human being in and around tropical rain forest are serious thread for the existence of Sumatran orangutan, as well as to other species in Indonesia. Their natural habitat, tropical lowland rain forest, is decreasing in quantity up to an endangering level based on land overuse and agricultural expansion. Moreover, forest fire as a method of land clearing continues causing immeasurable destruction.
Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP) is a collaborative programme initiated by PanEco and YEL involving the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry’s Directorate General of Forest Protection and Natural Conservation (Dit. Jen. PHKA Kementerian Kehutanan) and Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS). The activities within SOCP relate to all aspects of the conservation of Sumatran orangutan, among others:
- Confiscation, quarantine and reintroduction of orangutan formerly held illegally as pet;
- Survey and monitoring of remaining population of Sumatran orangutan;
- Research on the conservation and behaviour of Sumatran orangutan;
- Education and awareness raising in environmental conservation.
The overall goal of SOCP is to increase the survivability of the Sumatran orangutan through activities focusing mainly in confiscation, quarantine, socialization and reintroduction of orangutan previously held illegally as pet.
Since 1973, confiscated Sumatran orangutan have been successfully reintroduced into the areas of Gunung Leuser National Park at Bukit Lawang in the Province of North Sumatra. Indeed, both national and international rules and regulation in the mid 90’s rejected the reintroduction of orangutan into forest areas with already existing, healthy wild orangutan population based on the possibility of disease transmission and of over population. Therefore, PanEco and YEL decided to establish an orangutan quarantine centre in Batu Mbelin, Sibolangit, North Sumatra, that serves as also a medical centre for confiscated orangutan, and together with the FZS in Jambi to establish a Sumatran orangutan reintroduction centre around the area of Bukit Tigapuluh National Park. Currently, 100 of healthy Sumatran orangutan has been reintroduced in this reintroduction centre.
Besides the Sumatran orangutan reintroduction component, SOCP is also active in conducting research, suvey and monitoring of the remaining wild population of Sumatran orangutan, working to improve the protection of those remaining population in Sumatra and increasing awareness of community living adjacent to the habitats of Sumatran orangutan. For those purposes, the former rehabilitation centre at the foot of Gunung Leuser National Park is restructured into a centre for assessment and observation of Sumatran orangutan.
In the first quarter of 2011 SOCP and the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry’s Office of Conservation of Natural Resources in Aceh has inaugurated a new reintroduction site in the Nature Reserve of Jantho in the District of Aceh Besar, Province of Aceh. This introduction centre was established based on the formal approval of the Ministry and hosts currently 14 Sumatran orangutan, which were previously conviscated within Aceh Province and taken care at SOCP’s quarantine centre in Batu Mbelin.