Endangered Species Recovery

Many nations have laws to identify and protect imperiled species and their ecosystems. In the United States, actions taken under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) have prevented many extinctions, but few listed species have recovered to the point where they can have the ESA protections removed (1, 2). One reason for this [among many (3)] is a shortfall in funding, raising a conundrum for agencies responsible for species recovery: Should resources be allocated toward species facing imminent extinction or species whose long-term survival can most benefit from investment? Some argue that the latter strategy is ethically unsound because it may abandon species with little hope of long-term recovery [for example, (4)], even when science suggests that the former strategy may miss opportunities to prevent species from ever  experiencing the risk of imminent extinction (2). We suggest that framing recovery prioritization as a resource allocation problem provides a structure to facilitate constructive debate about such important questions. We discuss here the merits of an explicit resource allocation framework and introduce a prototype decision tool [(5); see supplementary materials for details] that we developed with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to facilitate transparent and efficient recovery allocation decisions.

Click this link to check out the whole article by Science Endangered species recovery

posted by: Erin Murphy


Orangutans in Sumatra learn to live in the wild

Orangutans spend roughly 90% of their time in the tree canopy; it isn’t normal for Willy to want to spend much time on the ground. Willy is a student, so to speak. She’s learning how to be wild. The 12-year-old Sumatran orangutan was taken from her mother at a young age and illegally kept in a Sumatran household as a pet before being rescued. Now, at the Frankfurt Zoological Society’s Orangutan Rehabilitation Center, she’s one of dozens of orphaned orangutans taught how to feed and fend for themselves in the lowland rainforests of central Sumatra—skills they never had the chance to pick up from their mothers.

Excerpt from WorldWildlife.org. Read the whole article here


posted by: Erin Murphy


Happy Birthday Eloise!

Eloise, a Bornean orangutan, at the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens will celebrate her 50thbirthday on Saturday, November 10th.  She is a special girl and a special needs orangutan.  You can see that she gets around the exhibit in her own special way.  It seems that she suffered oxygen deprivation when the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck at birth, before she was discovered and rescued.  This has not stopped her because she is now the oldest Bornean female orangutan in the United States.  The last oldest was a female named Maggie who died at 54 at the Chicago Zoo two years ago.  The oldest of all that we know of in a zoo was a female Sumatran orangutan named Puan at the Perth Zoo – she died at the age of 62 this year.  Orangutans usually live from 35 to 40 and have some of the same problems as humans such as heart disease.

Eloise was born at the Los Angeles Zoo in 1968 to Sally one of the Zoo’s first orangutan residents.  Eloise has had several babies and a daughter named Rosie still shares the exhibit.  Besides the problems described above Eloise has arthritis and gets regular physical therapy.  She had to be trained to present her feet for massages by offering her the treats she loves – such as grapes and yogurt and now she regularly looks forward to this attention.

posted by: Erin Murphy


Check out How Your Donations Have Helped the Orangutans

The recent 10,000 USD donation from Orangutan Conservancy was put to good use at the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP) Quarantine and Rehabilitation Centre at Sibolangit, North Sumatra province, and Jantho Reintroduction Programme at Jantho Nature Reserve, Aceh, province Indonesia. 

Waste Management

With the remoteness of the Quarantine and Rehabilitation Centre and general absence of external waste management services in Indonesia, until now non-organic rubbish was burned on-site in a concrete trough. However, with support from OC we were able to construct an incinerator. In order to reduce costs, we decided to build one of our own design, with the aid of a contractor that has long assisted us in orangutan cage and facility construction, rather than purchasing a readymade commercial unit. We are very pleased with this development, which greatly help improve hygiene and sanitation conditions, allowing us to provide the best possible care to the orangutans under our care.

Fiberglass Canoe

In Jantho we needed a replacement small boat/canoe, used to cross the river dividing the field station from the orangutan reintroduction area. After a number of repairs, the previous unit was leaking in too many places, so it was simply time to replace it! The Post Release Monitoring staff in Jantho who leave the camp early in the morning before sunrise to follow the orangutans now have a safe means of crossing.


Field Equipment

The recent donation also enabled us to replace and build out our field equipment stock. Our monitoring staff take location coordinates of the orangutans throughout the day with GPS units, and also use these for navigation throughout the Reserve. However, a number of our units were not working, even after repairs were attempted, so we purchased 5 new Garmin receivers. Further, previously we were using standard AA batteries for GPS and radio units, necessitating regular replacement. This was of course less than ideal for the environment, and also financially, so switching to rechargeable batteries reduces waste and in the long-term, costs.


Lastly, as we were able to greatly reduce costs for the incinerator from the initial estimate, we used the difference to secure a few additional items. First, our resident field veterinarian, Dr. Pandu, is based full-time at the Jantho Station, so that he can assist in monitoring the health of the orangutan population, and quickly respond to any instances requiring medical intervention. As such he needed a dedicated camera to document observations in the forest, so that the standard monitoring team could continue their tasks (including photography) throughout each day, and Dr. Pandu his. We therefore purchased one waterproof pocket camera for veterinary care purposes. Second, we also purchased 20 new rucksacks for our orangutan post-release monitoring team at Jantho. Third, the kitchen and visitor reception area at the Quarantine Center needed renovation, as it was aging and suffering from termite damage. With OC support we were able to replace the wooden support beams and sidings, so that everything is safe and presentable. Fourth, we used a small portion of the donation to cover some remaining costs for SOCP Senior Veterinarian Dr. Yenny to join the Orangutan Veterinary Advisory Group (OVAG) meeting in Banda Aceh this year. Lastly, with the currency exchange rate from USD-IDR becoming more favorable, we applied the remaining balance towards purchasing food for the rehabilitant orangutans at the Quarantine Centre. Many thanks to Orangutan Conservancy to enable us to provide better wildlife management at both sites, and through this support we work hand in hand to conserve orangutans in Sumatra!

posted by: Erin Murphy