Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme
The primary goal of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP) is the conservation of the Sumatran orangutan, a species currently listed as ‘Critically Endangered’ by the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources). A recent workshop involving many orangutan experts from Indonesia and abroad concluded that a total of only around 7,000 Sumatran orangutans remain, in increasingly fragmented forest patches. Even more worrying is the fact that only 3 of these forest fragments still contain over 1,000 individual orangutans! To achieve its aims SOCP is adopting a number of methods:
Quarantine and reintroduction
To achieve its goals SOCP has already established a purpose-built medical quarantine facility for confiscated ‘ex-pet’ orangutans and has begun reintroducing the species to Bukit Tigapuluh National Park; a forest that hasn’t had any orangutans for over 150 years but now has an entirely new, albeit still relatively small population.
Improving law enforcement
By providing facilities to receive confiscated and unwanted captive orangutans SOCP has already begun the process of improving law enforcement on the island. Many more illegal pet orangutans are now being reported and confiscated by the authorities than were being during previous years.
Educating the public
SOCP has recently begun developing an education and awareness program aimed at getting the conservation message across to the public. Children (tomorrow’s decision makers) are one target of the program, but more importantly, SOCP is targeting adults (today’s decision makers) in cities, towns and villages, especially near the remaining orangutan habitat.
Research and monitoring
In order to conserve the Sumatran orangutan it is imperative that we know as much about them as we can. SOCP has field staff permanently based at the well known Ketambe research station in Central Aceh, continuing important long-term field studies of the Ketambe orangutan population that have now been ongoing for over 30 years! SOCP is also a leading player in surveys and monitoring of the species decline on the island and much of what is now known about remaining numbers and their distribution has been determined by SOCP staff and colleagues.
Conserving habitat is a huge challenge in Indonesia these days but SOCP is actively involved in several initiatives to expand the area under protection and improve protection in locations that are already designated as conservation areas.
Recent Update: SOCP is again on the fronline, fighting the current spatial plan that the government is trying to impose. Watch this terrifc short video that explains the situation in Jantho. http://player.vimeo.com/video/80593408?title=0&byline=0&portrait=0&player_id=iframe693&api=1. The Tripa forest is now the front-line of a major environmental battle being fought in Sumatra. Read about this important area and SOCP’s ongoing campaign to protect the remaining biodiversity there.
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