Two Decades of Discovering Apes

Diary #15 – Saving Tripa: The Nightmare Comes Home

Bornean orangutan baby (pongo pygmaeus)

A few days ago I wrote about the localness or home-ness of incidences, a consequence of global travel and this work. The past two days that has come home to haunt me. I feel frustratingly lost to affect change. Yet that is the whole purpose of this project, to publically chronicle the issues and conditions impacting the fate of great apes – make people aware. All I seem to be doing is making myself feel like shit.

Only days ago I sat in the second floor office of Ian Singleton, conservation director of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program. He eluded in reserved tone to a potential crisis, but it was clear his concern for a peatlands tropical rainforest area north of Gunung Leuser NP was great. Yesterday in an interview in AlJazeera his reserved was removed, he said that the population of great apes, Tripa’s orangutans, was “just barely hanging on”.

“It is no longer several years away, but just a few months or even weeks before this iconic creature disappears,” Singleton said.

“creature disappears” like a stab in my heart. Those are not hollow words.

The population of Sumatran orangutans, who live in the Tripa forest on the north coast of Sumatra, Aceh province, have decreased from about 3,000 to only about 200 in just over a decade.

The peatland forest is the most densely populated Sumatran orangutan population in the world, with eight individuals per each square kilometer.

I’m sitting here feeling helpless – as if my very own house is burning to the ground and not a single neighbor notices nor steps outside to offer a hose.

I feel like I need to run, as fast as I can, door to door, telling people please help, there is a chance:

There is a much greater chance of the judge making the right decision, and revoking the permits to clear this fragile ecosystem, if he knows that the world is watching. Please share this story far and wide, and sign the urgent petition.


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