September 26, 2018

New photos show Tapanuli orangutans on the move

( - Two Tapanuli orangutans that fled about 7 kilometers from the site of an ongoing hydroelectric power plant project in North Sumatra's Batang Toru Ecosystem have been successfully photographed by an Indonesian Environment and Forestry Ministry monitoring team (Sep 24).

The two orangutans are moving closer to the Dolok Sibual Buali Nature Reserve, one of the region’s legally-established conservation areas which also serves as an important habitat of the Tapanuli orangutans living within the Batang Toru Ecosystem.

The photos of the orangutans were shared by Wiratno, the Ministry’s Director General of Natural Resources and Ecosystem Conservation (Sep 25), who is receiving daily reports from his monitoring team which continues to work on the ground level. 

Below are the photos of the Tapanuli orangutans captured by the ministry’s monitoring team as part of its efforts to ensure the continuing protection of the area’s orangutans from the ongoing impact of the hydroelectric power plant's construction.

The director general pointed out that the movement and protection of the two Tapanuli orangutans continue to be monitored on a daily basis to make sure nothing happens to them.

The photos below demonstrate the ministry's monitoring team which continues to observe the movement of the Tapanuli orangutans forced out from areas around the hydroelectric power project development.

The availability of food for the Tapanuli orangutans is a serious concern to be monitored by the ministry team, which is seeking to ensure that sources of food consumed by the orangutans are available. 

However, the director general confirmed that currently the two Tapanuli orangutans have no problems finding food in the location where they were photographed, as evidenced by food remnants and the type of food consumed, seen in the following two photos: 

A research study undertaken by the ministry concluded that along the hydroelectric power site, the Tapanuli orangutan population is quite low at one orangutan per 250 hectares.

In contrast, major populations of the Tapanuli orangutan are distributed in the eastern block of the Batang Toru Ecosystem in conservation areas. 

As reported earlier by (Sep 13), Director General Wiratno previously made a presentation on the discovery of three fresh nests belonging to Tapanuli orangutans in community plantations that were forced out by the fragmentation of their habitat due to the hydroelectric power project's development.

Company involved responds 

Indonesian Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya recently sent a letter to PT NSHE, the hydroelectric power company responsible for the project, requesting that it add an addendum to the project's environmental impact assessment (AMDAL) document because it does not yet comprehensively address the protection of the Tapanuli orangutans.

Furthermore, as reported by (Sep 19), the minister also asked the company to prepare four plans with a set time to ensure that real efforts are in place to protect the Tapanuli orangutans from the effects of the project's ongoing construction phases. 

Director General Wiratno provided a further update on the matter, saying that PT NSHE has responded in writing to the minister’s letter (Sep 21) indicating its willingness to comply with and carry out all the demands of the minister’s letter. 

“The company also promised, as confirmed in its letter, to remain committed to adopting the World Bank Group's IFC performance standards while aligning itself with the revised results of the AMDAL document,” he explained.