Conservation News: Protecting Key Orangutan Habitat in Tripa Through the Courts

A large male orangutan is rescued and relocated after his home forest was destroyed for oil palm expansion in the Tripa peat swamp. Photo by Paul Hilton
A large male orangutan is rescued and relocated after his home forest was destroyed for oil palm expansion in the Tripa peat swamp. Photo by Paul Hilton

by Laurel A. Neme for Mongabay.com

“Hell for people and paradise for orangutans,” is how Ian Singleton, director of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program (SOCP), describes intact Indonesian peat swamp forests.

With their high daily temperatures and steamy 90 percent humidity, these lush dense forests teem with life — from the last viable populations of Sumatran tigers, to herds of Sumatran elephants, plus rhinos, sun bears, clouded leopards and of course, orangutans.

But the Tripa peat swamp forest, he says, is so badly damaged today that it is no longer heaven for the great apes.

For many, like Rahul, it has become a living hell. The infant orangutan was orphaned when captured by an oil palm plantation worker, and brought to the man’s shop at the edge of the Tripa forest. That’s where SOCP rescuers found the two-year-old in April 2012 — malnourished and with wounds on his leg from trying to bite and scratch free of the rope that confined him.

It’s a common story. The Tripa swamp forests, located on the coast of northwest Aceh province in Sumatra’s Leuser Ecosystem, are home to the world’s densest population of Sumatran orangutans. It’s also the epicenter of a series of legal battles aimed at stopping agribusiness from undermining this critical ape habitat.

This excerpt from a news article appeared in and is courtesy of Mongabay.com and can be read in its entirety here.

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