Mission: The Sumatran Orangutan Society has a long term vision of a viable, thriving and growing population of Sumatran orangutans living wild and free in their healthy and protected rainforest home. Local communities are actively engaged in activities which sustain the forest, and protected areas are free of encroachment.
Species: Sumatran Orangutan
Location: Gunung Leuser National Park, Sumatra
Support started: 2017
Donating: £5,000 towards reclaiming and restoring 75 hectares of Gunung Leuser National Park
Find out more about our work with project through our annual report:
Background: The Gunung Leuser National Park is one of the richest tropical rainforests in Southeast Asia and is host to approx.700 different species of animals - more than 175 mammals, 320 birds, 190 reptiles and amphibians. Because of the great differences in altitude and the diversity in soil, Gunung Leuser National Park also has an enormous wealth of plant species; 45% of all recorded plant species in the West Indo-Malayan region are found in this area. The Gunung Leuser National Park covers up to 7,927 km2 and it is one of the last places where you can see critically endangered orangutans in the wild.
The park faces a great number of challenges; poachers have virtually wiped out the crocodile population and have severely reduced the number of tigers and rhinoceros. According to the Indonesian Forum for the Environment, over a fifth of the park has been adversely affected by illegal logging and road construction. International demand for products such as palm oil and timber, combined with weak forest governance and short-sighted land-use policies are driving deforestation at an alarming rate. Orangutan populations are left fragmented and isolated, making them easy targets for poaching for the illegal pet trade, and causing conflict with local communities when the stranded and starving apes are forced to resort to raiding crops.
As well as being the greatest threat facing orangutans, deforestation harms people’s lives and livelihoods in Sumatra and around the world. For more than 4 million people in Sumatra’s Aceh province, the rainforest is a vital life support system, providing clean water and a whole host of other benefits. The decimation of the ecosystem exposes them to environmental disasters such as flooding and landslides
An area of the Leuser Ecosystem the size of 75 football fields has been illegally turned into oil palm plantations; the Sumatran Orangutan Society (SOS) have been given authorisation by the Gunung Leuser National Park authority to take chainsaws to the oil-palms and replace them with indigenous rainforest trees.
SOS’ aim will be to chainsaw 9,000 illegally planted oil-palms in the Leuser Ecosystem and replace them with indigenous rainforest trees, reclaiming vital habitat for orangutans and the countless other species that share their forest home. This will also involve the local national park authorities and government departments who have pledged to enforce the protection of the newly planted forest.
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