There are fewer than 14,000 Sumatran orangutans and fewer than 800 Tapanuli orangutans left in the wild. These species are Critically Endangered, and already in a precarious position. At the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Indonesian government made the choice to protect orangutans and the guides who lead tourists through the national parks by closing national parks to tourists. This was the right thing to do, but it has had unintended negative consequences.
With no furlough scheme for the guides who are now out of work at Bukit Lawang, Tangkahan and Ketambe (three tourist sites in the Leuser Ecosystem), the income supporting their families has disappeared overnight. Their food security is tenuous, and they don’t know when visitors will be allowed to return.
In the first phase of our appeal to help the guides and their families, we raised money to buy emergency food parcels for 558 families in Bukit Lawang, Ketambe and Tangkahan. We now want to raise money to provide a longer-term support system for guides and their families, who are still affected by the pandemic’s disastrous impact on tourism.
Phase 2: Forest-Friendly Livelihoods
By raising money to plant trees in the buffer zone around Gunung Leuser National Park, we can provide an income to guides and their families by paying people for these jobs:
- transporting seedlings and other materials
- maintaining seedlings once they are planted out in the buffer zone
- making eco poly-bags from banana trunk fibres (poly-bags are what the seedlings are first planted in at the nursery stage)
We know from satellite deforestation monitoring data that there has been an increase in deforestation in some parts of Sumatra, and an increase in people setting snares to capture animals for food. We can make a reasonable assumption that the increase in deforestation and poaching attempts is a direct result of economic hardship, so raising money to support people during the COVID-19 pandemic is an important part of our work to conserve intact rainforest.
Thank you for your support. You are helping us to ensure that Sumatra's rainforests, wildlife and people can thrive.