Category Archives: Sumatran Orangutans

Tripa Update

Dr Ian Singleton, director of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP), has just sent some information about a new video (watch here) and article (read here) about the forthcoming NBC broadcast on the work of SOCP and the situation in the Tripa Peat Swamps, Sumatra.

For those of you in the US the film will be shown on Rock Center with Brian Williams this THURSDAY 18th October.

Please also spare a minute to sign this petition

Thank you,

Orangutan Foundation

Indonesian court cancels oil palm plantation permit

We heard this morning that the High Court in Medan has ordered the Aceh Governor, Zaini Abdullah, to revoke a permit for an oil palm plantation in the Tripa peat swamps in Aceh province in the north of the island of Sumatra. The appeal was filed by the Aceh chapter of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi).

This ruling is very good news for the future of the remaining orangutans in Tripa. It also demonstrates a commitment by the Indonesian government to enforce the laws protecting carbon-rich forests and endangered species. Read the full article in the Jakarta Post and keep up to date with the campaign to save Tripa at End of the Icons

Thank you,

Orangutan Foundation


Save the Tripa Peat Swamp forests and its critically endangered orangutans

Aceh Judge slammed over Indonesian court’s inability to make a just ruling over simple legal case.

Read full press release here and sign an online petition to enforce the law protecting Tripa Peat Swamp and its orangutan populations.

Please support this important action.

Thank you,

Orangutan Foundation



Why Investing in Forests is Win-Win for Communities, Climate and Orangutan Conservation

Yesterday, Ashley Leiman, the Orangutan Foundation’s director, was in Jakarta for the launch of a new UNEP report which explains why investing in forests is win-win for communities, climate and orangutan conservation.  Read the report, Orangutans and the economics of sustainable forest management in sumatra   

 Sumatran Orangutan Gail Campbell-Smith

Male Sumatran Orangutan – photo by Gail Campbell-Smith

Images of the orangutans return to Borneo

Here are a few photos of Kevin and Bobby, the two Bornean orangutans who are now back in Borneo  after being returned from Sumatra.The internet connection in Pangkalan Bun, Borneo has been very poor and unreliable -Pak  Tigor, the OrangutanReintroduction Manager managed to send these through. 

Kevin and Bobby arrive at P. Bun

Coming off the aeroplane

Kevin and Bobby come off the plane into Pangkalan Bun, after a change over in Jakarta.

Kevin and Bobby in the airport shed

Cargo crates in the airport shed before being taken by pick up truck to the local givernment facility. Not that you can see them very well but both orangutans were unfazed by their journey.

Hopefully there will be more to follow of their final journey into the swamp forest of Borneo over the next few days. Thank you Pak Tigor for your persistence and patience in sending them through!

Please help us to ensure that Kevin and Bobby remain in the wild by supporting our work in the Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve. You can donate here.

Orangutans back to Borneo

Press Release

Wednesday 21st September 211

 Back to Borneo

 Endangered Bornean orangutans return home from Sumatra.

Two orangutans, which started their life in the wilds of Borneo, but ended up as pets in Sumatra have returned home.

Kevin and Bobby, are male Bornean orangutans. Their mothers were almost certainly killed at the time of their capture in Borneo (probably whilst their habitat was being clear-felled) and their previous “owners” obtained them in Borneo before returning home to the island of Sumatra. Fortunately for both Kevin and Bobby, they were subsequently rescued by the Indonesian government’s local Nature Conservation department (PHKA) and staff of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (implemented by the Swiss based PanEco Foundation and the Indonesian Yayasan Ecosystem Lestari and PHKA). Under Indonesian law it is illegal to keep orangutans as pets and to trade, harm or kill them. Kevin was rescued in 2006, aged a little over 2 years and Bobby in 2009 aged around 3 or 4 years old.


Bobby above and below – male Bornean orangutan

Bobby 3

Under the care of SOCP at the Batu Mbelin Orangutan Quarantine Centre near Medan, North Sumatra, both orangutans grew, gained weight and had excellent health. They were therefore very much ready for a return to a life in the wild. To do this, however, they had to be returned to the island of their birth. Bornean orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus) and Sumatran orangutans (Pongo abelii) are nowadays recognized by scientists as being two distinct and separate species. As such, Bornean orangutans must only be released on Borneo, and Sumatrans on Sumatra. Mixing the species on the two islands would be detrimental to the genetic viability of both species’ wild populations.


Kevin –  male Bornean orangutan

The Sumatran orangutan is already listed as Critically Endangered by the World Conservation Union (IUCN), and the Bornean as Endangered. In fact there are estimated to be only around 50,000 Bornean orangutans left in the wild and as few as only 6,600 or so Sumatrans. The future for both is therefore already precarious enough.

For the above reasons, Dr Ian Singleton, Director of Conservation for the PanEco Foundation and head of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme, approached the Orangutan Foundation, a UK registered charity, to help get the two young orangutans back to where they belonged thus contributing to the long term conservation of the Bornean orangutans, “Kevin and Bobby deserve the chance to be wild orangutans once again and we have done everything we can to make sure it happens. If we can at the same time highlight the plight of orangutans on both islands and remind people that it is illegal in Indonesia to keep them as pets then that would be an added bonus.” said the British born expert.

The Orangutan Foundation’s work is focused towards Central Kalimantan, in the Indonesia part of Borneo. In collaboration with the Indonesian government’s local Nature Conservation department (PHKA), the Orangutan Foundation runs a release site for rehabilitated and trans-located wild orangutans in the Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve.

On Saturday 17 September, the Orangutan Foundation team including their vet, Dr Fikri, flew to Medan, where the two orangutans were being kept together.  On Monday, after final checks, Kevin and Bobby began their journey home. First they flew to Jakarta, on the island of Java. Both orangutans seemed fine and not too stressed after the first flight and the Orangutan Foundation’s vet gave them some fruit. They then flew onto Pangkalan Bun, Central Kalimantan, on the island of Borneo.   On arrival, back home in Borneo, both orangutans looked out curiously from their cargo crate. The Australian Orangutan Project, partners of both organisations, kindly agreed to help fund the cost of bringing the two orangutans home. 

Kevin and Bobby are currently resting and then they will undergo some additional final pre-release medical checks at a local government facility. They will then complete the final leg of their journey, by river on a longboat, to the 76,000 hectare.

Once at the reserve they will again be housed for a few more weeks in a large cage, but this time deep in the forest that they will soon be free to explore. This is to allow them to really rest up after all the travelling and to acclimatize to their new surroundings, the swamp forests of Borneo.

Their health and behaviour will continue to be closely monitored by Orangutan Foundation’s vet and once given the all clear and when the time is right, they will finally be freed and get their chance to live as wild orangutans once again. Even then, the OF team will continue to follow them and monitor their behaviour and health until such time they are confident they will survive with little or no more intervention.

The principle threat to wild orangutans on both islands is habitat loss, mostly as forests are cleared for conversion to agriculture, especially vast, monoculture oil palm plantations. Many of the orangutans in these forests die or are killed in the process. Some of the lucky ones manage to survive and end up as illegal pets. The luckiest of them all survive long enough to be confiscated and placed in a rescue centre, and are eventually returned to a life in the wild.

The general public can help support the Orangutan Foundation’s work in the Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve at 020 7724 2912.

For more information, high resolution images, or to arrange an interview,

call Cathy Smith on +44 (0)20 7724 2912 or email [email protected]

Notes to editors:

Orangutans are only found on two islands, Borneo and Sumatra and they are classified as two distinct species reflecting this geographic distribution.

Sumatran orangutans are critically endangered with only about 6,600 in the wild. Bornean orangutans are endangered with only about 50,000 remaining. 

The Sumatra Orangutan Conservation Programme is a collaborative programme implemented by the Swiss based PanEco Foundation, Indonesia’s Yayasan Ekosistem Lestari (Foundation for a Sustainable Ecosystem) the Indonesian Government’s Directorate General of Forest Protection and Nature

The Orangutan Foundation works in collaboration with The Directorate General of Forest Protection and Nature Conservation of the Ministry of Forestry of the Republic of Indonesia (Ditjen PHKA).

The Orangutan Foundation is the UK representative of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme.

Sumatran Orangutan Twins

View video footage of the orangutans twins  (Sumatran orangutans give birth to twins) born at the start of 2011  to blind parents from our partners, the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme.

Help the valuable work of this centre by adopting Wenda.

Thank you!

Orangutan Foundation

Press Release: Healthy twin babies for blind Sumatran orangutans


Blind Sumatran orangutan and new born twins -photo by SOCP

Blind Sumatran orangutan and new born twins -photo by SOCP

Close up of newborn Sumatran orangutan twin -photo by SOCP

Close up of newborn Sumatran orangutan twin -photo by SOCP

Sumatran mother and newly born infant twins -photo by SOCP

Sumatran mother and newly born infant twins -photo by SOCP

27th January 2011
Healthy twin babies for blind Sumatran orangutans  

Staff at a Sumatran orangutan sanctuary have a unique double celebration in their hands with the birth of rare twin infants to parents who are both completely blind and lucky to be alive.

Twins’ mother Gober lost her sight to cataracts and was rescued in 2008 by the Sumatra Orangutan Conservation Programme after her blindness forced her to raid crops, risking almost certain death from villagers.

Father Leuser,  confiscated as an illegal pet and released fit and well into the wild in Bukit Tigapulah National Park,  strayed outside park boundaries and was shot by villagers. He was found with 62 air rifle wounds with three pellets lodged in his eyes.

The twins were born last Friday (January 21) at the Batu Mbelin orangutan quarantine centre near Medan in North Sumatra where both adults are in long term care, after staff lifted their normal breeding ban to improve quality of life for elderly Gober, now well over 40.

“We try to prevent orang-utans breeding until after they are released to the wild, but this was not an option for Gober,” said Ian Singleton, Director of Conservation for the Swiss based Pan Eco Foundation.

“ We felt  having an infant would enrich her existence.  Rather than being bored, Gober now has the full time responsibility of her infants, not just one but two of them.”

Mother and babies, a boy and a girl named ‘Ganteng’ (handsome) and ‘Ginting’ ( a popular local name), are doing well under careful staff supervision, he reports.  For the time being Leuser is being kept separate although he could meet his offspring later in the year.

‘Twins are not unheard of but they are certainly not common and relatively few zoos will have experience of it.  The fact that both parents are blind this makes it a doubly special event.”

And long term?  Ian hopes that both infants will eventually be released to a life in the wild, something denied to both their parents.

“Despite their handicaps, both Gober’s and Leuser’s genes will be given a second chance to contribute to conservation of their species in the wilds of Sumatra.”

Sumatran orangutans now number only 6,600 in the wild. They are listed as ‘critically endangered’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species, facing loss of rainforest, mostly converted to oil palm plantations,  and frequently killed during forest clearance or as pests if they raid crops.

Editors Notes:

  • Three local villagers were jailed  in 2006 for shooting Leuser , all receiving sentences of more than three months. 16 pellets were removed, but 46 remain in his body as attempts to remove them could risk his life.


  •  Construction of the Batu Mbelin orang-utan quarantine centre was completed in 2002, since when 200 orangutans have been received and more than 130 already transferred to the SOCP’s centre at Jambi for re-introduction to the wild.


  • The Sumatra Orangutan Conservation Programme is a collaborative initiative driven by the Indonesia Government Directorate General of Forest Protection and Nature Conservation,  involving Swiss based Pan Eco Foundation, Indonesia’s Yayasin Ekosistem Lestari Foundation and Germany’s Frankfurt Zoological Society.  Its work includes rescue, quarantine and re-introduction, surveys and monitoring of populations, conservation research, habitat conservation, education and awareness raising.



Anyone wanting to help Gober, Leuser and their twins, and many others in Sumatra can do so by making a donation to the Orangutan Foundation in the UK or PanEco Foundation via: (Reference: SOCP)

Further details and high resolution images:-

Ashley Leiman,Director –  Orangutan Foundation.

020 7724 2912       [email protected]

Fingers crossed for Tripa – critical Sumatran orangutan habitat

We have just heard that it is very likely that the Astra Agro Lestari (AAL) concession in Tripa will close down! This was reported in a local news source (see below writen in Indonesian).

Apparently the article reveals that AAL is no longer in a position to endure the pressure from those “environmental NGOs”. The spokesman laments about the tragedy that 700 plantation workers will loose their job. AAL still hopes for a win-win solution in dialogue with those environmental NGOs. Paneco and YEL (Foundation for a Sustainable Ecosystem), PanEco’s partner NGO in Sumatra are identified as “such pressuring NGOs”.

The statement from YEL’s chairman, Sofyan Tan, is poignant.

“There’s no win-win-solution! The Tripa concessions must simply get out, as they destroy an ecosystem unique in the world. Once Tripa is protected, funds will come to the government in Aceh. Just think of the immense carbon stock preserved in the peat”.

We will keep you informed about any developments.

Serambi Online
PT SPS Nagan Raya Terancam DitutupMEDAN – Perseroan Terbatas (PT) Surya Panen Subur (SPS), anak perusahan PT AAL (Astra Agro Lestari), yang mengelola sekitar 2.500 hektare lahan sawit di Desa Pulo Kruet, Kecamatan Alue Bilie, Kabupaten Nagan Raya, terancam ditutup. Kepala Proyek PT SPS Ir Djoniadi kepada Serambi, Kamis (29/10) mengaku tak kuat lagi membantu sekitar 700 orang di lokasi itu. “Benar, kalau dulu sekitar 700 orang masyarakat yang ada di sekitar wilayah itu kehidupannya kami tanggung, namun sekarang hanya tinggal sekitar 400 orang saja, dan kemungkinan dalam waktu dekat ini seluruhnya akan di PHK,” katanya.

Dia mengatakan, jika perusahaan tidak beroperasi maka dampaknya sangat besar terhadap masyarakat sekitar. “Bayangkan saja, warung-warung yang di sekitar itu saja bisa memperoleh pendapatan ratusan juta rupiah per bulannya,” ujar Djoni. Terhadap akan berhenti beroperasi perusahaan, Djoni yang didampingi Comodity Development area Manager PT SPS, Ir Basyir Hasan mengaku karena tidak tahan terus-terusan dipresure beberapa LSM setempat.

Makanya sebelum perusahaan ini ditutup, mereka masih terus mencari solusi untuk duduk bersama dengan berbagai LSM. Saat ini sudah mengarah untuk duduk bersama memikirkan jalan keluar untuk menyelamatkan ratusan masyarakat yang ada di sekitar itu. PT SPS sebuah perusahaan sawit yang menerima yang menerima HGU dari Pemkab Nagan Raya sekitar 5.000 hektar dan selebihnya diambil alih dari PT Agra Patra Citra tahun 2007. Hingga hari ini kata Djoni sudah tak lagi melakukan kegiatan. “Kami saat ini cuma merawat sekitar 2.500 hektar lahan. Ini baru tergarap. Kami belum membuka lahan, masih memperbaiki lahan yang rusak, yang kami beli dari Agra Patra Citra,” tegasnya.

Dikatakan, di daerah tersebut bukan SPS saja yang beroperasi. Sejak 1920-an hingga sekarang sudah ada perusahaan lain yang beroperasi di Rawa Tripa tersebut. “Kini, ada masyarakat yang memiliki modal besar, membuka lahan kebun di Rawa Tripa, kenapa tak disorot,” ujar Djoni. Ia masih memberi harapan jika masih ada solusi dan kesepakatan yang baik. Lebih dari 700 masyarakat nantinya bisa mereka rekrut kembali. “Nantilah kita lihat ya, bagaimana jalan keluarnya,” ujarnya.

Sementara itu, Dr Sofyan Tan, salahseorang dari LSM yang ikut mempresure kegiatan PT SPS selama ini yang dihubungi terpisah menampik disebutkan LSM yang dipimpinnya Paneco “menggoyang” beroperasinya PT SPS. “Kami bukan menggoyang, kami ingin menyelamatkan hutan Aceh. Jika Pemkab setempat ingin uang, ya silahkan, tapi rasakan nanti bila terjadi lagi tsunami,” ujarnya. Bagi Sofyan Tan, tidak ada kata-kata solusi. Rawa Tripa, katanya harus diselamatkan, SPS harus hengkang dari situ. “Rawa Tripa itu, satu-satunya kawasan di dunia ini yang harus dijaga. Rawa itu memiliki kekayaan alam yang tak ada di daerah lain,” katanya.

Tentu ujar Sofyan Tan, dengan menjaga hutan, uang pasti akan masuk ke kas daerah. “Di rawa itu ada penyerapan karbon yang lebih tinggi, yang bisa dihasilkan pemkab setempat dan Pemprov Aceh. Lebih baik perusahaan itu ditutup saja,” ujarnya.(lau) 

Sumatran Orangutan Footage

Please follow this link to view a short piece on the Sumatran orangutans, with a focus on the Tripa Swamps, Aceh, Sumatra that appeared in,32187,1926657,00.html