Wednesday, September 5th, 2012
SBS Dateline last night reported on the mission to rescue Critically Endangered orangutans left with nowhere to go on the Indonesian island of Sumatra due to large-scale dramatic deforestation for palm oil plantations. A huge swathe of destruction has occurred in the last 12 months in the Tripa Peat Swamp.

Tripa is the northernmost Peat Swamp within the protected Leuser Ecosystem in the Province of Aceh, Sumatra, Indonesia. Tripa is famous for being one of the few remaining peat swamp forest habitats with the highest densities of orangutans in the world. Experts are warning that if the current wave of illegal palm oil expansion in Tripa is not halted immediately, its unique Sumatran orangutan population could be extinct before the end of 2012.

In 1990 there were almost 2,000 Orangutans in the Tripa Peat forest, and now today it could be less than 200 due to the ongoing and often illegal clearance of forest through the conversion to palm oil plantations. Satellite imagery obtained shows over 1,500 hectares of conversion in the last 6 months in Tripa alone, and ground project teams have reported ongoing fires and illegal activity of operations in palm oil concessions despite a central government investigation into their behavior.

The Leuser Ecosystem is one of the most important biodiversity hotspots on earth, and the Tripa Peat Swamp Forest is a key part of it. Tripa has become an important test case for Indonesian authorities as International pressure for its protection has skyrocketed. A multi?billion dollar REDD+ agreement between Indonesia and Norway has been severely tested. The UNEP/UNESCO Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP) has requested Tripa be saved and a global petition generated over 15,000 signatures, demanding that Indonesia’s President SBY enforce Indonesian law in Tripa, with the prosecution of offenders, and the restoration of the full 61,000 ha of Tripa’s original forest. As a direct result of this pressure the Indonesian Government, via the Ministry of the Environment and National Police, are now conducting a detailed investigation into the illegal destruction taking place and legal action is imminent.

The Chairman of Indonesia’s REDD+ Taskforce, Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, recently wrote to the newly elected Governor of Aceh, Zaini Abdullah, requesting that two palm oil plantation permits in Tripa be immediately revoked, and at the same time verbally indicated the need for all plantation permits in Tripa to be withdrawn, and for Tripa’s peat swamp forest ecosystem to be fully restored. To do this, an additional three palm oil plantation companies urgently need to be placed under investigation and fully included in forthcoming legal action.

The next 6 months requires a serious investment of energy and funds. Indonesian National Law has clearly been violated. Now comes the absolutely critical stage of ensuring the courts uphold justice in this landmark case.

There will be no more chances for Tripa and its orangutans if this campaign were to falter now; The Orangutan Project is calling for public support of the Tripa Swamp project leader Dr. Ian Singleton on this campaign at

“The destruction of the of the orangutan's rainforest is not only driving the extinction of the orangutans, but is also is a major contributor to global warming, the loss of biodiversity, the violation of the rights of indigenous communities and destruction of key environmental services needed for both quality of life of local communities and long-term sustainability,” says Leif Cocks, the Founder and President of The Orangutan Project.

As an individual or an organization, your support is urgently needed now.

“Indonesia’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions, protect its tropical forests and save threatened species have never been under such intense international scrutiny. Success in Tripa will set a hugely important precedent that will help forests throughout the country. Failure in Tripa, on the other hand, will simply reiterate the fact that none of Indonesia’s forests, or magnificent wildlife are safe.” Dr. Ian Singleton, Director of Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme.

Please view the following video on the Tripa Swamp ecosystem:

Public donations to the Tripa Swamp Appeal can be made at


Video footage and images available. For more information, or to arrange an interview with The Orangutan Project Founder, Leif Cocks please contact:

Kate Richards Affinity Marketing | 0404 892 782 | [email protected]


Orangutan, Deforestation, Sumatra, Palm Oil



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