“The Sumatran Rescue Alliance has been launched to help authorities fight back against the illegal trade of critically endangered orangutans,” said Leif Cocks, President and Founder of The Orangutan Project in a statement. “We know these multi-billion dollar crime networks will be seriously impacted as soon as their buyers see that Indonesia now has the means to confiscate illegally held orangutans no matter where they are in the world.”
For several decades, illegal poaching syndicates have been smuggling critically endangered orangutans out of Indonesia for wealthy international buyers. Once out of Indonesia, it has been extremely difficult for authorities to locate, confiscate, and repatriate these stolen orangutans.
“The Sumatra Rescue Alliance will address an important need within a coordinated effort to end the illegal wildlife trade, especially with smuggled orangutans waiting to be repatriated from overseas,” Gary Shapiro, PhD, President of the Orang Utan Republik Foundation and The Orangutan Project-USA, told WAN. “Orangutans suffer waiting in cages in a faraway land. Now, they will be returned to a new home under expert care as they transition to life in the forest.”
The Alliance has secured 100 hectares of land in North Sumatra for a rescue and rehabilitation center for confiscated orangutans that will be established as soon as lockdown restrictions are eased across Indonesia. The center, initiated in response to requests from local officials, will allow authorities to ramp up efforts to confiscate and repatriate smuggled orangutans and provide them with genuine rehabilitation. The center will also provide rehabilitation for Sumatran orangutans that have been confiscated from illegal networks and have a strong chance to survive and be returned to the wild.
Two orangutans have already been repatriated to Indonesia, and there are many other urgently waiting to be transferred from Malaysia, Thailand, and across Indonesia.
Most of the rehabilitated orangutans will graduate to a release program in the protected Bukit Tigapuluh Ecosystem, where they will eventually join what is now the most successful colony of rehabilitated Sumatran orangutans in the world, helping to secure the survival of their species. The center will also include a permanent rainforest home for any orangutans who can’t return to the wild.
“All orangutans are highly sentient and deep-thinking and deserve to be wild and free,” said Cocks. “But this is much more than an ideology. If we are to secure their future survival, we urgently need every stolen orangutan to be able to contribute to the genetic viability of their species. We are down to almost unsustainable populations and every critically endangered orangutan counts.”
The Sumatran Rescue Alliance has a goal to raise $160,000 to build the rescue center and operate it for the first year. Donors who contribute $500 or more will be recognized as founding donors and will have their names included on a plaque at the center.Help The Orangutan Project build the Sumatran Rescue Alliance Center by donating HERE!
Written by Lauren Lewis for World Animal News
Photo (c) COP