08 October 2015

Orangutans are one of the flagship species that we are working to protect at Chester Zoo. Not only do we support and participate in hands-on field conservation activities, like building rope bridges in Borneo, but we also support education programmes, such as the one being run in the Batang Toru forest of Sumatra.

Orangutan using wires to cross a break in the canopy
Orangutan using wires to cross a break in the canopy

The project is being run by the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Project (SOCP) and focuses on protecting the last remaining habitat of this genetically unique population of orangutan, with education playing an important part to raise awareness amongst the surrounding communities.

The forest itself consists of roughly 136,000 hectares of primary forest which is thought to be home to a population of 400 to 600 critically endangered Sumatran orangutans.

The local name for the orangutans found in the Batang Toru forest is ‘Juhut Bottar’ which literally translates to ‘white meat’. Seemingly little details such as this give us a small insight into the perception of orangutans amongst the local people. Through school visits, field excursions with school children, church collaboration and distribution of awareness materials in public spaces and at public events, the project aims to raise environmental awareness and change perceptions. Hunting is just one of the problems that the orangutans of the Batang Toru forest face.

Raising awareness in local schools. Photo credit: Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Project
Raising awareness in local schools. Photo credit: Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Project

Deforestation and environmental exploitation are also jeopardising the survival of these important populations. As such, the project focuses on the conservation of the orangutans habitat.

Last year was an extremely productive year for the project with two new school partnerships, allowing the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Project to help with development of an environmental curriculum. Furthermore, awareness and education work was executed in many schools near the forest edges and an environmental education book was finalised in collaboration with the church – the first of its kind in the local language of Nias islanders, landless immigrants that threaten the forest by opening up new areas for agriculture.

Field excursions for raising environmental awareness. Photo credit: Sumatran orangutan conservation project
Field excursions for raising environmental awareness. Photo credit: Sumatran orangutan conservation project

The project continues to develop this year and Chester Zoo are very proud to be involved.

You can help us to continue our work with projects like the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Project. Together we can protect these amazing animals and stop them from going extinct.

Make a donation by either texting ‘ORNG15 £3′ to 70070 to donate £3 to Act for Wildlife through JustTextGiving* or make an online donation here. 100% of your donation will go directly to help orangutans.

We also have some free learning resources available for schools to download to help your school get involved in Go Orange for Orangutans. There’s plenty of ways in which you can get involved and help protect orangutans.

*Our Text to Donate service is delivered through Just Giving. Texts are charged at your mobile phone operator’s standard rate. We will receive 100% of your donation. You MUST be 16 or over and must have the bill payer’s permission. For full Terms of Service please visit Just Giving.