Orangutan Outreach has been partners with International Animal Rescue (IAR) since 2009. The orangutans of West Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo) now have a safe haven at IAR’s Orangutan Rescue Center in Ketapang. There, they are cared for and rehabilitated by trained professionals until the day comes when they can be released into a safe forest or island sanctuary.
December 2012: The Sumatran orangutan is losing habitat fast. Pristine forest in Indonesia is being carved up, set on fire and converted into palm oil plantations at a shocking pace. The drive for profit is seeing palm oil companies also move into areas of protected forest – like the Tripa Peat Swamp Forest in Aceh. Home to many iconic species, including the densest population of the last remaining 6,600 Sumatran orangutans, Tripa is also a critical carbon storehouse for the planet.
The destruction of Tripa is having disastrous consequences: for the wildlife and biodiversity which is perishing with it, for the local communities whose livelihoods depend upon it, and for all the rest of us as carbon emissions escalate. Tragically, over 80% of orangutans in Tripa forest are estimated to have perished as a result of this habitat destruction.
But in a case that could make history, two palm oil companies are now facing court for operating illegally in Tripa. The tireless efforts of local and international NGOs have pushed this issue forward and it is about to become a real test case for Indonesia. If the law is upheld and the law-breakers are punished then there is hope for protecting other areas of forest in Indonesia in the future. If not, the law loses even more ground and greed gets the green light. International public pressure is urgently needed to help uphold Indonesia’s environmental laws and to take a stand against this blatant exploitation for the benefit of so few. Please add your voice and help show that the world is watching this case.
What you can do right now:
1. Sign this petition to demand that the law be upheld in the Tripa case:
2. Find out more and donate to the campaign at:
3. Like and Share this video as widely as possible.
Indonesia plans to use Rawa Tripa in its westernmost province of Aceh, where the country had a recent victory in peatlands protection, as learning grounds to improve forest governance and legal enforcement through license review.
This video gives description about the collaborative coordination between NGO’s, Local and Central Government efforts to reduce deforestation and forest which took swift actions.
Orangutans in Indonesia could be on the brink of extinction all for a product many Americans do not even know they are consuming. The Orangutans natural habitat in Indonesia are allegedly being burned down and decimated to make room for trees that produce palm oil.
Palm oil is a cheap ingredient that is used in almost half the items in American grocery stores. But because palm oil goes by so many different names it can be hard for consumers to identify it in the products they are purchasing.
Jane Velez-Mitchell spoke to Rolf Skar the Forest Campaign Director for Greenpeace USA. For more information visit Greenpeace.
To find out how you can adopt an orangutan check this link.
sign the petition at www.change.org/savetripa2
See the full story Friday night on Jane Velez-Mitchell at 7pm ET on HLN.
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.
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 our supermarket shelves. NBC’s Ian Williams travels to Sumatra, Indonesia to find what is being done to save man’s closest living relative. The full report airs Thurs., Oct. 18 at 10pm/9c on NBC’s Rock Center with Brian Williams.
Weekend Sunrise Australia
Last weekend Weekend Sunrise Australia aired an episode from NBC Rock Centre story about destruction of the last remaining Sumatran Orangutan habitat, the Tripa forest of Indonesia, for palm oil plantations.
For those who missed the program last weekend, you can watch the video through the link below. Please share this widely
It is because of you—and the thousands of others who joined you—that the destruction of the Tripa forest first gained an international spotlight.
Your response to our call to action, combined with media coverage about the decimation of what had been the densest population of orangutans left in the world, led the President of Indonesia to dispatch a team of investigators to the scene.
What happened next was historic. In a country with a dismal record of enforcing its own laws when it comes to protecting forests, the investigators declared that the clearing was indeed illegal and the operating permit for the main company responsible was revoked.
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)