Orangutan Rescue: On the frontline in Sumatra

by Sumatran Orangutan Society
Orangutan Rescue: On the frontline in Sumatra
Orangutan Rescue: On the frontline in Sumatra
Orangutan Rescue: On the frontline in Sumatra
Orangutan Rescue: On the frontline in Sumatra
Orangutan Rescue: On the frontline in Sumatra
Orangutan Rescue: On the frontline in Sumatra
Orangutan Rescue: On the frontline in Sumatra
Orangutan Rescue: On the frontline in Sumatra
Orangutan Rescue: On the frontline in Sumatra
Orangutan Rescue: On the frontline in Sumatra
Orangutan Rescue: On the frontline in Sumatra
Orangutan Rescue: On the frontline in Sumatra
Baby orangutan in cage
Baby orangutan in cage

Recent Orangutan Rescues

In the last two months, we have safely evacuated 5 orangutans. Two were babies rescued from a cage and the other three were older orangutans who needed to be moved to a safer patch of forest.

The baby was a 2 year old boy. In February, the HOCRU team were called to the village of Suka Rimbun village, Ketambe sub-district, Southeast Aceh by a local resident. They interviewed a local man called Darmin and he eventually handed over a young orangutan to Aceh BKSDA in Kutacane Resort. As this orphan had always been kept in captivity, he was transferred to the SOCP rehabilitation centre in Batu M’Belin.

In March, a female orangutan was found in a local plantation in Sumber Waras sub-village, Sei Serdang village, Batang Serangan subdistrict, Langkat district of North Sumatra province. A joint team consists of OIC HOCRU team, Gunung Leuser National Park authority and North Sumatran BBKSDA worked together to move her. Based on the physical check-up, the vet found two air rifle bullets in her cheek and chest. She was estimated to be 14 years old. She was directly translocated into Leuser forest area, after having passed the health checks of the vet.

Another female was reported in Sei Musam village in Langkat, North Sumatra. The team worked with the Wildlife Conservation Society, Gunung Leuser National Park authority, and the North Sumatra BBKSDA. Together, they evacuated a severely injured female orangutan, age 14. She was found with broken and infected fingers as well 2 air rifle bullets within her body. The orangutan was transferred to the SOCP quarantine centre to start the rehabilitation process.

On 16th of March 2018, team received a report from our partner organization, FKL, about an infant orangutan kept by a local resident in Peunaron village, East Aceh district. The HOCRU team visited the village and rescued an infant orangutan, age two. His condition was malnourished, so he was send to SOCP quarantine centre to undertake the rehabilitation process.

Another recent rescue was conducted on Friday, March 13th, 2018. The joint team rescued an adult male orangutan from an oil palm plantation In Oboh village, Rundeng Sub-district of Subussalam city - Aceh province. He was found wandering around an oil palm plantation owned by local resident. Following a physical check-up, he was stated healthy and translocated to Rawa Singkil Wildlife Reserve on the same day. It is an indication of the progress the team is making that HOCRU were called, rather than the orangutan being shot at to frighten him off.

healthy female being inspected
healthy female being inspected
Handing Baby over to SOCP Quarantine centre
Handing Baby over to SOCP Quarantine centre
Removing bullet
Removing bullet
Challenges of translocation
Challenges of translocation
Rescued Male
Rescued Male

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Dilan in cage
Dilan in cage

In the period from August to October 2017, the orangutan rescue team confiscated three orangutans based on reports received from the local community. These were rescued in partnership with the Natural Conservation&Resources Agency, known as B/BKSDA North Sumatra. All of the confiscated orangutans were from Aceh province.

                                                              

Since 2016, we have been able to set up a second HOCRU team to be based in Tapak Tuan, South Aceh regency, in Aceh province. A professional vet has now joined this team, which means they are now fully operational and able to manage human-orangutan conflicts on the west coast of Aceh (Singkil, Subulussalam, West Aceh, and Southwest Aceh). Both HOCRU teams have the same objectives, which is to help and protect both orangutans and the communities living within the orangutans' home territory. Occasionally both teams support and collaborate with each other.

 

The team is now expanding its activities to include regular monitoring, awareness raisingand facilitating communities in developing local regulations (in Aceh known as qanun) at village level. These local regulations are aiming to ensure orangutan protection and Human-Orangutan Conflict (HOC) mitigation.

 

Since 2012 to 25th October 2017, HOCRU team has rescued 132 orangutans in which 88 of them were translocated from isolated area and 44 were confiscated from illegal owning and pet trade.

 

Below is the rescue data August – October 2017.

 

August

Illegally kept

Confiscation

East Aceh, Aceh

Male, 5

Quarantine in SOCP’s

         September

Illegally kept

Confiscation

Langsa, Aceh

Female, 4

Quarantine in SOCP’s

October

Illegally kept

Confiscation

South Aceh

Infant female, 2

Quarantine in SOCP’s

Isolated

Translocated

North Sumatra

Female, 25

Translocated

 

As well as helping new locals laws to be enacted, such as South Aceh's Regent Decree No. 348 of year 2017 about Human-Wildlife Conflict Mitigation, the team have also been involved in publicising these new laws through a series of workshops, so that locals are aware of the changes and implications for them. The team know that working with local people to tackle the problem is part of the solution.

As I am writing this report, I have just seen news of a news rescue: February 155h 2018 -the HOCRU team worked together with Prof. Suci Utami and Aceh Wildlife Authority to rescue and confiscate a 2 year old orangutan baby in Suka Rimbun village, Ketambe subdistrict - Southeast Aceh district of Aceh province. The information was received from Prof. Suci who is conducting theoutreach programme for local children within the area. This orangutan baby is named Dilan and claimed to be found in a local residence, motherless. Sadly, Dilan was malnourished and stressed. He has been moved to the SOCP Rehabilitation Centre for evaluation and support. As an orphan, it's likely it will take some time for him to learn what fruit he can east and how to make a nest and climb trees. However, one day, Dilan will be able to breath the fresh air in the wild once again. 

Thank you to Syufra for providing the information for this report.

Dilan being rescued
Dilan being rescued
Map of all rescues 2017
Map of all rescues 2017

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2 year old arriving at quarantine
2 year old arriving at quarantine

During the last three months, the team have rescued 3 orangutans which were being kept illegally as pets and moved one orangutan who was isolated in a small patch of forest, in danger of starvation. The HOCRU team worked in partnership on these rescues with the Natural Conservation & Resources Agency (known as B/BKSDA North Sumatra).

The three animals who were illegally kept have no experience of survival on their own in the wild and for that reason have been transferred to the SOCP rehabilitation centre in Batu MBelin. There they will be quarantined initially to ensure they are disease free and then slowly integrated with other orangutans and taught how to build nests and forage for food. This is a slow process, but SOCP have a successful history of training orangutans in forest school for successful release into the wild. In one of their release sites this year, two new babies have been born to mothers in the wild. These mothers were orphaned at a very young age and yet have shown themselves capable of learning and adapting to raise healthy babies in the wild themselves.

The other orangutan who was used to living in the wild was successfully translocated to a safe area of forest, where there is plenty of food and she has a high chance of survival.

In 2016, we able to set up a second HOCRU team be based in Tapak Tuan, South Aceh regency, in Aceh province. A professional vet joined the South Aceh team full time in the last quarter. Now, they will be able to manage human-orangutan conflicts on the west coast of Aceh (Singkil, Subulussalam, West Aceh, and Southwest Aceh). Both HOCRU teams are pursuing the same objectives and purposes, which is to help and protect orangutan and community living within the orangutans’ home-range. Occasionally both teams support and collaborate with each other.

 

The teams not only focus on rescue missions, monitoring and awareness raising, but also in supporting communities in developing local regulation (in Aceh known as qanun)  at village level. These local regulations aim to ensure orangutan protection and Human-Orangutan Conflict (HOC) mitigation.

 

In addition, the team also puts substantial resource into pushing and supporting the government’s effort in relation to Human-Orangutan Conflict (HOC). For example, in 2017, South Aceh’s Regent Decree No. 348 in the year 2017 was to form a Human-Wildlife Conflict Mitigation Task Force. This is an important step forward in terms of the local government’s support of wildlife conservation and our HOCRU team conducted a socialisation workshop to introduce and explain the consequences of the decree to community leaders and villagers in the affected areas. We are confident that this approach will in the long term lead to a cultural shift in the attitude towards orangutans and how they are dealt with when they are eating a farmer’s crops.

Below is the rescue data August – October 2017.

1) August, Illegally kept, Confiscation, East Aceh, Aceh , Male Age 5, Taken for quarantine at SOCP

2) September, Illegally kept, Confiscation, Langsa, Aceh, Female Age 4, Taken for quarantine at SOCP

3) October, Illegally kept, Confiscation, South Aceh, Infant female, Age 2, Taken for quarantine at SOCP

4) October, Isolated, Translocated, North Sumatra, Female, Age 25, Translocated

Since 2012 to 25th October 2017, HOCRU team has rescued 132 orangutans in which 88 of them were translocated from isolated area and 44 were confiscated from illegal owning and pet trade.

Female aged 4, rescued from a cage
Female aged 4, rescued from a cage
25 year old female being translocated
25 year old female being translocated
Workshop on Human-wildlife mitigation decree
Workshop on Human-wildlife mitigation decree

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A sedated orangutan in the transport crate
A sedated orangutan in the transport crate

The fight to save Sumatran orangutans is far from over. Deforestation and wildlife trade are still rampant in North Sumatra and Aceh provinces, but thanks to your support, the HOCRU team (Human Orangutan Conflict Response Unit) have been able to save 10 orangutans since June!

Most of these rescues took place in oil palm plantations, which are now covering a large part of the natural habitat of Sumatran orangutans. As the forests fall, orangutans become isolated in small forest patches in plantations, or dangerously near villages and farmlands. They thus become an easy target for poachers and tend to be considered as pests when they enter fruit gardens.

The HOCRU teams are on the front line to save these great apes, and are regularly called by local community members who want to protect their crops without harming wildlife - a message that the team is constantly spreading on their travels between rural villages. 

Since June, 3 mothers along with their 3 babies, as well as 2 single females have been translocated from plantations to safety inside the Gunung Leuser National Park, thanks to the collaboration with the Nature Conservation Agency and the national park authorities. They can now roam freely in their natural habitat after being saved by our HOCRU teams in some difficult situations due to the rainy season.

Two other orangutans (a 2 year-old baby and a 6 year-old female) were also rescued from the illegal pet trade. Most probably victims of poachers who find them more easily when the forest is decimated, both orangutans have been transferred to the care of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP) to start their rehabilitation, to be returned to the forest in the coming years.

Preparing to catch an orangutan in the rescue net
Preparing to catch an orangutan in the rescue net
Krisna reassures a young orangutan during a rescue
Krisna reassures a young orangutan during a rescue
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A young Sumatran orangutan female in Gunung Leuser
A young Sumatran orangutan female in Gunung Leuser

Understanding Sumatran orangutans: a key to protect them!

By Fabien Garnier – SOS Conservation Programme Manager

                In the Leuser Ecosystem, located in Aceh and North Sumatra provinces, Indonesia, rainforests are disappearing at an alarming rate. Illegal logging, infrastructure development, energy projects, non sustainable land use plans and the expansion of monocultures are taking a toll on the Sumatran orangutans habitat, leaving them more and more vulnerable to poaching, hunting and traffic. While we understand that economic development is essential for local communities and poverty alleviation, but to reach sustainable development and our conservation goals, we need all actors to understand why Sumatran orangutans and their habitat are so important.

                That’s why our Human Orangutan Conflict Response Units (HOCRU) do not focus on translocation of isolated orangutans or freeing illegal kept great apes only. A huge part of their work is dedicated to raise awareness about conservation issues among local populations. Two main publics are targeted: schools, as the children of today are the conservation leaders of tomorrow, and farmers, as they suffer from orangutans raiding their crops.

                In schools, our teams are presenting Sumatran orangutans and their habitat, explaining why they are vital to the whole ecosystem and how they live. During the last 3 months, more than 200 students have been reached by our teams during school sessions based on interactions, games, songs and the distribution of booklets and brochures. As Samira, a 14 years old schoolgirl of Babarok village: “We live next to orangutans, and they look like nice pets, especially when they are babies. But today I understood that they are wild animals, beautiful and mighty, but wild, and their house is the rainforest”. Muhammad, 15 years old, added: “Now I understand them, I learnt to love them and I want to protect them. They are so similar to us in many aspects, but also so special. Yes, they are unique”.

                With smallholders and local farmers, the issue is different. With the rainforest being logged and chopped down, Sumatran orangutans tend to come closer to villages and crops. Some farmers can lose a huge part of their income when a single orangutan is raiding their fruit trees. But solutions exist: bamboo cannon to scare away orangutans, avoiding planting crops near the forest border and calling HOCRU teams when orangutans are spotted by villagers. These village meetings are essential to change the perception of villagers toward orangutans. They can become forests stewards and the first conservationists in the field. Brahim, 38 years old, told us: “For me, orangutans were pests. When they come into my durian plantation, the result can be catastrophic for me and my family. But HOCRU team introduced us to conflict mitigation technics. And if these were to fail, we know they are here to help us. No, killing orangutans is not the solution, we have ways to live together in harmony”.

                Between March and May 2017, our 2 HOCRU teams also conducted 7 translocations of isolated orangutans and rescued 2 illegally kept babies. Additionnally, they conducted field surveys to identify new and safe release sites.  A wonderful work that would not be possible without your help and support.

Thank you for your invaluable support of this vital work. 

Fabien Garnier, Conservation Programme Manager

Sumatran Orangutan Society

info@orangutans-sos.org

School visit in Babarok village
School visit in Babarok village
Working closely with local farmers
Working closely with local farmers
Rescue of a male orangutan raiding crops
Rescue of a male orangutan raiding crops

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Sumatran Orangutan Society

Location: Abingdon, Oxon - United Kingdom
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Twitter: @orangutansSOS
Project Leader:
Lucy Radford
Abingdon, Oxon United Kingdom
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