As more and more trees fall in Sumatra, we are seeing a new crisis unfold for orangutans that are coming into contact, and conflict, with humans
Trapped in tiny patches of forest surrounded by farmlands, cut off from viable areas of habitat, orangutans may resort to raiding crops for survival. For smallholder farmers, this can seriously threaten their livelihoods, and their retaliation can be fatal.
The Human Orangutan Conflict Response Unit (HOCRU) is the only active orangutan rescue team in Sumatra. They regularly evacuate orangutans from condemned forests that are being torn down by bulldozers, then release them into safe habitat.
Rescues are just one element of the HOCRU programme. The team also seeks to tackle the causes of human-orangutan conflict, provides training so that agricultural communities can protect their crops without harming wildlife, and supports government capacity in dealing with this growing problem.Our partners also confiscate orangutans from the illegal pet trade – a by-product of deforestation, as shrinking forests make them easy targets for poachers.
These rescues are vital – with so few Sumatran orangutans left in the wild, every life is precious. However, they do not solve the larger problem that is driving human-wildlife conflict. To protect orangutans in the long term, we need to ensure that their habitat is safe.
132 orangutans have been rescued: 88 from isolated forests and 44 from the illegal pet trade.