Orangutan News: “The Last Orangutan Eden” to Air on PBS

In a photo from an another project, Dr. Ian Singleton and his team deliver an orangutan to a better life. Photo courtesy of SOCP
In a photo from another release, Dr. Ian Singleton and his team deliver an orangutan to a better life. photo courtesy of SOCP

Ecologist Chris Morgan (Bears of the Last Frontier) travels to the jungles of Northern Sumatra to document the work being done to save its population of wild orangutans. Asia’s most intelligent ape once roamed across the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Java, but today, fewer than 7,000 Sumatran orangutans remain in the wild. The film cites rapid deforestation — clearing the land for vast palm oil plantations — as the chief reason for the species’ declining population.

But as Morgan shows, conservationists are trying to reverse that trend by teaching orphaned orangutans the survival skills they’ll need for release back into the jungle. He also accompanies researchers deep into a remote and protected peat swamp forest to study wild orangutans up close to learn about their culture and behavior.

The program follows Morgan as he visits a quarantine center that is a temporary home to around 48 orangutans who have either been rescued from logged land or confiscated from the pet trade. More than half are under five years old and would still be nursing in the wild, so the staff act as surrogate mothers.

In order to understand what survival skills need to be taught to the orphans, Morgan accompanies University of Zurich researcher Caroline Schuppli on one of her frequent but difficult treks to study the habits of a family of wild orangutans.

The program concludes with Morgan joining conservationist Dr. Ian Singleton, director of the orphan center, as his team relocates recent graduate Udin to a reserve on the northern tip of Sumatra. Its inaccessibility makes it the perfect place for orangutans to thrive. Udin will join other orphans already released here, familiar faces from the orphanage. They are all pilgrims, the founding fathers and mothers of a new orangutan Eden, the hope for the future of the species.

This excerpt from a news article is courtesy of BWW TV World and can be read in its entirety here.

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