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Petition to save the Tapanuli Orangutan gains almost 1 million signatures


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The Tapanuli Orangutan, also known as Pongo tapanuliensis – a subspecies of the Orangutan whose name means ‘person of the forest' in Malay – was only discovered in 2017.

Yet it is already the most endangered great ape species in the world. With only 800 apes left in the wild, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has already included the species on its red list, classing it "critically endangered".

Frontal view of Pongo tapanuliensis MorphobankImage Credit: Tim Laman on Wikipedia 

Despite this, plans have been announced to build 'a major new hydroelectric dam right in the heart of the orangutans’ habitat'Just like their fellow cousins, this orangutan is already endangered due to the vast destruction of its habitat, illegal settlements, logging and hunting, but the Tapanuli now additionally face another grave danger. 

'Today, the new species is found only within the forests of the Batang Toru ecosystem, located in the Tapanuli highlands of North Sumatra province.' , states the report.

The dam has been planned and will be monitored after its subsequent building by the Indonesian company PT North Sumatra Hydro Energy.


The Bakun Dam in Malaysia.

Image Credit: Mohamad Shoox via Flickr

The dam is dangerous for the Tapanuli, as well as many other species, as it will split the orangutans’ remaining forest habitat.  

The environmental group Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) had previously already filed a lawsuit with the Medan State Administrative Court in North Sumatra to stop the $1.5 billion pound project, but the appeal was denied. 

In an interview with the Jakarta Post, Walhi’s North Sumatra office director, Dana Prima Tarigan stated that Walhi "will file an appeal and take any other remaining legal measures available".

In addition, Tarigan set up a petition calling on the Bank of China to stop financing Batang Toru dam.

In the petition, Tarigan states“With less than 800 left in the wild, these amazing creatures live in a very small area, and if built, the dam will essentially doom the Tapanuli orangutan species to extinction."

However, states that there is a chance to halt the planning. As with any project as big as this, funding is crucial and "Batang Toru Dam’s main financier, Bank of China could pull out and stop the dam from being built."

The petition has so far nearly received 940,000 signatures - click here to to find out more about how you can support this cause.

 Lead Image Credit: Tim Laman on Morphobank

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