Dec 8, 2020

Not just orangutans.

Although most of the rescue team's work is with orangutans - they are often called to evacuate adult orangutans from plantations or farmland, and also confiscate baby orangutans from the illegal pet trade - this doesn't mean they won't help other species in need, and the siamang in the photo above is just one recent example. She had been seen repeatedly by residents of a village in Aceh province, but these same residents initially felt that the team didn't need to get involved as they didn't see the siamang as a problem. After a few weeks, though, the siamang started to change her behaviour in response to being around humans, and eventually started trying to take food from local shops. To avoid more serious conflict developing, and to protect the siamang's health, the team tranquilised and evacuated her, taking her to a wildlife rehabilitation centre for eventual release back into the wild. 

“Our team can’t just sit around if anyone needs our support. We will help other wildlife as best as we can so they can roam free back into the wild. On many occasions, our team has actively participated to mitigate wildlife conflicts with animals such as elephants, sun bears, slow lorises, eagles, and gibbons” - Jenny, rescue program manager

A few days after evacuating the siamang, the team received a report about a female orangutan who was stranded in a plantation in another part of Aceh. When the team reached her, they realised she was 13km (just over 8 miles) away from the nearest patch of forest. Despite this, the orangutan - later named Sofi - had no health problems, so the team released her into the forest later that day.

Thank you for supporting the team to help orangutans and other wildlife in Sumatra.



Nov 18, 2020

Forest Friendly Livelihoods

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:

  • tree-planting
  • 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.

Oct 20, 2020

Solving the case of a sunbear and a Sumatran tiger

The Forest and Wildlife Protection Unit (ForWPU) are currently hard at work to solve two cases of illegal wildlife crime in Sumatra.

Firstly, the team recently began an investigation on an individual suspected of trading protected animals including sunbears (Helarctos malayanus). Along with the head of the Special Crime Unit from the North Sumatra Regional Police, they coordinated a meeting with the individual, posing as prospective buyers of a young sunbear. The bear was on sale for 24,000,000 IDR - £1264 or $1634 at today's exchange rate. Through their discussions, the team were able to ascertain that the sunbear was being kept by a Military Police Officer from the Indonesian Air Force, meaning careful plans now need to be made to confiscate the sunbear. The team hopes to be able to rescue the animal very soon.

Alongside the sunbear investigation, ForWPU are working on an investigation into three people suspected of trading Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris) body parts and skins. In a similar process to the sunbear case, the team arranged to meet one of the suspects at a restaurant to discuss buying a tiger skin. The Special Crime Unit were also in attendance and were able to apprehend the suspect, who is also known to be involved in other illegal wildlife trade networks. They are now gathering more evidence (having confiscated the tiger skin) and beginning legal proceedings against all the people involved.

As you can tell, a lot of time and funds go into tracing the illegal willdife trade in Sumatra. Every investigation is a piece of the bigger picture - stopping the illegal trade altogether - and we are so grateful for your support.

Thank you.


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