Sumatra: Connecting forests for Orangutans, Tigers and other rare species

Photo of orangutan,

Togus, a male Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii), trying to nap in a tree in the Batang Toru Forest. Photo credit: Tim Laman.

Photo of waterfall.

A waterfall in Sumatra’s Batang Toru forest. Photo by Tim Laman.

Sumatra, one of the major islands of Indonesia, is spectacularly biodiverse. It is a land laden with iconic creatures, some found no where else on earth. Sumatra is home to critically endangered tigers (Panthera tigris sumatrae), critically endangered pangolins (Manis javanica), and hundreds of rare bird species like the critically endangered Helmeted hornbill (Rhinoplax vigil). And of course, orangutans (Pongo abelii).

But the forests of Sumatra are one of the most threatened ecosystems on the planet. From palm oil plantations to mining and logging, orangutans, pangolins, hornbills and tigers are just some of the species that have seen their forest homes fragment into unconnected patches—even vanish away.

It is a critical problem for the world to address. And SavingSpecies is honored to be a part of the solution to save the Batang Toru forests of north-central Sumatra.

SavingSpecies is working with our partners, PanEco’s Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP) and Sumatra-based Yayasan Ekosistem Lestari (YEL) to create a 500 hectare corridor connecting two large forests in the Batang Toru rainforests that are home to separate orangutan populations (and scores of other species of plants and animals). Consistent with SavingSpecies’ unique strategy to Connect, Protect, and Restore forests for threatened and rare species, the project will help forge a more secure, larger protected area in the center of northern Sumatra.

Focusing on connections between forests—especially forest protected areas—means that wildlife, including rare and endangered wildlife like orangutans and tigers, have more connectivity and space to seek food sources, and other members of their species. This in turn increases genetic diversity, fostering healthier and stronger orangutans and tigers, too.

Maps of Batang Toru forest area.

Maps of Sumatra and the Batang Toru forest area. SavingSpecies and its partners aim to connect the two large forest blocks for orangutans, tigers, and many other threatened species.

The forest and its wildlife are primarily threatened by small scale, but encroaching new development, gold mining, geothermal activities, and more recently, plans for a hydro-electric dam. These actions do not tread lightly–and the orangutan’s future is particularly at risk.

As the orangutan population is currently fragmented into three populations, identifying the most promising and robust areas for corridors to connect those forests and populations is essential to greatly increase the orangutans’ chances of survival.

SavingSpecies’ ambitious project will increase connectivity and add protection for:

Critically Endangered (CR): Pangolin (Manis javanica), Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae), Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii)

Endangered (EN): Agile gibbon (Hylobates agilis), Asian Tapir (Tapirus indicus), Mitred leaf monkey (Presbytis melalophos), Siamang (Symphalangus syndactylus)

Photo of Sumatran tiger.

A Sumatran tiger roaming the forest triggered a ‘camera trap.’ Photo credit: YEL/SOCP/Batang Toru Programme.

Vulnerable (VU): Banded Palm Civet (Hemigalus derbyanus), Binturong (Arctitis binturong), Dark-tailed tree rat (Niviventer cremoriventer), Malayan sun bear (Helarctos malayanus), Marbled cat (Pardofelis marmorata), Oriental small-clawed otter (Aonyx cinerea), Pig tailed macaque (Macaca nemestrina), Sambar deer (Cervus unicolor), Serow (Capricornis sumatrensis), Slow loris (Nycticebus coucang), Whitehead’s spiny rat (Maxomys whiteheadi)

Mammal overview: CR: 3; EN: 4; VU: 11; NT: 7; LC: 46; DD: 6

Critically Endangered (CR): Helmeted hornbill (Rhinoplax vigil)

Vulnerable (VU): Black-crowned pitta (Pitta venusta), Sunda blue flycatcher (Cyornis caerulatus)

Bird overview: CR: 1; EN: 0; VU: 2; NT: 39; LC: 175; DD: 47

Amphibians and Reptiles
Endangered (EN): Brown tortoise (Manouria emys), Spiny turtle (Heosemys spinosa)

Vulnerable (VU): Blue-throated litter skink (Sphenomorphus cyanolaemus), Kinabalu Tree Frog (Rhacophorus baluensis), Lesser Swamp Frog (Limnonectes paramacrodon), Lowland Dwarf Toad (Pelophryne signata)

Amphibians and Reptiles overview: CR: 0; EN: 2; VU: 3; NT: 4; LC:52; DD: 69

A rafflesia flower blooming in the forest. This species is the largest flower on earth. Photo credit: Jeremy Holden.

A rafflesia flower (Rafflesia arnoldii) blooming in the forest. This amazing species produces the largest flower on the planet. Photo credit: Jeremy Holden.

Plant and Tree species
Critically Endangered (CR): Hopea beccariana, Hopea mengerawan, Shorea acuminata, Shorea balangeran

Endangered (EN): Agathis borneensis, Dipterocarpus crinitus, Dryobalanops lanceolata, Lithocarpus kostermansii, Santiria rubiginosa, Shorea leprosula, Shorea ovata, Shorea parvifolia, Shorea platyclados, Syzygium zeylanicum

Vulnerable (VU): Aglaia angustifolia, Alangium longiflorum, Horsfieldia glabra, Knema hookeriana, Schima wallichii

Plant and Tree species overview: CR: 4; EN: 10; VU: 4; NT: 1; LC: 19; DD: 464

A conservation project this ambitious will take time and resources to see it through to completion and success. And SavingSpecies needs your help more than ever.

Your support today can help us and our partners provide hope for orangutans, Sumatran tigers, and many other rare and threatened species. Please support this project today.

Photo of mom and baby Sumatran orangutan.

A mom and baby orangutan are looking to you to help save and expand their forest home. Photo credit: YEL/SOCP/Ronald Siagian.

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