Orangutans are Indonesian animals that are considered protected species. They have a vital role in keeping tropical forest ecosystems healthy by spreading the seed of various trees across the forests.
Unfortunately, orangutans are under threat of extinction. According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, three orangutan species exist in Indonesia (Sumatran orangutan, Bornean orangutan, and Tapanuli orangutan) are listed as Critically Endangered. This is mainly due to forest loss, which is their natural habitat.
Seeing that fact, Orangutan Information Center (OIC) makes it their mission to rescue orangutans and their habitats in Sumatra, Indonesia. This organization works with the local communities who live beside the orangutans’ habitat at the Leuser Ecosystem and Batang Toru, South Tapanuli.
Not only Orangutans
OIC was established in 2001 by Panut Hadisiswoyo. One of their missions is to tackle human-orangutan conflicts through the Human-Orangutan Conflict Response Unit (HOCRU). Along the way, OIC also focuses on protecting wild animals, rehabilitating habitats, restoring forests, empowering communities through sustainable agriculture, and building collaborations with governmental institutions and other organizations to tackle crime against lands.
In 2008, OIC pioneered the forest restoration program on the degraded lands at Leuser Ecosystems, where more than 2,390 hectares of forest with High Conservation Values were illegally cleared for plantation development. In this case, OIC has reduced illegal plantations by cutting down more than 15,000 oil palm trees, 5,000 rubber trees, and other illegal plants.
OIC restored forests by planting over 2,2 million seeds of 97 indigenous tree species at more than 800 hectares of forests inside and outside Mount Leuser National Park. Every hectare of critical land is planted with approximately 1,100 seeds from 20-30 different tree species.
Empowering the Communities
To empower local communities, OIC helps provide job alternatives through sustainable agriculture. The organizations formed Community Agroforestry, Reforestation, and Education (CARE) to transform the villages to be conservation-oriented. OIC introduces environmental education, awareness, and habitat protection. CARE’s mission targets several communities that live side-by-side with orangutan habitats.
Since 2001, around 6,164 farmers from 53 villages in the Leuser Ecosystems have been invited to participate in various educational workshop programs to develop sustainable agriculture practices. Together with Orangutan Republik Foundation, OIC also implements Orangutan Caring Scholarship schemes to support the studies regarding ecology and orangutan conservation at Sumatra.
Furthermore, OIC also formed The Forest and Wildlife Patrol Unit (ForWPU) to encourage local communities to participate in conservation and forest protection efforts by aiding the legal process of criminal offenses in the Leuser Ecosystem.
OIC’s Works in Numbers
OIC conducts research and surveys based on data to measure the success and impacts of their movements. Below are a few of OIC’s work progress from 2012 until 2020:
- Rescuing 223 orangutans (through translocations and confiscated from private ownership).
- Restoring 2,629 Ha degraded land at Leuser Ecosystem from 2008 until 2020.
- Planting 2,523,352 tree seeds to restore degraded lands.
- Providing annual scholarships to students from Aceh and North Sumatra since 2006.
- Assisting the law enforcement process of 46 forestry-related crimes with the National Conservation Agency.
- Trained 6,229 communities on human-orangutan conflicts, organic agriculture, and forest restoration.
Translator: Kresentia Madina
To read the original version of this article in Indonesian, click here.
This article is published by scheduling per 23 December 2022. The Green Network Team is currently on end-of-year break until 02 January 2023.
Amar is the Manager for Editorial Indonesia at Green Network Asia. He graduated from the Master of Philosophy program at Universitas Gadjah Mada and Bachelor of Communication Science at Universitas Sumatera Utara, Indonesia. He has ten years of working experience in journalism as a reporter and editor.