The fight for an iconic animal
The Leuser Ecosystem is a biodiversity hotspot in North Sumatra, Indonesia. It is the last place on earth where you can find critically endangered Sumatran rhinos, elephants, tigers, but most importantly for Panut, Sumatran Orangutans.
Horrified by the rapid rate of deforestation in this key refuge for some of the world’s most loved creatures, Panut decided that enough was enough: it was time to be the solution.
Since the creation of the Orangutan Information Centre, Panut has replaced thousands and thousands of hectares of encroaching oil palm plantations with brand new forests, able to provide orangutans with food, habitat and locomotive pathways in just five years. Panut knew there was no long term sustainability for his projects without involving the local community.
He employed agricultural workers from the plantations to plant trees for him instead, maintaining economic growth in rural villages. This project expanded into orangutan rescue missions and relocation, community outreach programs, tackling forest crime and researching more about the forest and the impacts of his projects. Thanks to Panut, I was able to walk through his brand new forests and see evidence of baby elephants and nesting orangutans. More importantly, I could stand on the tower and look over at the ever expanding canopy with gibbons calling in the background. That’s how I knew deep in my heart that these critically endangered animals wouldn’t be at risk of extinction for much longer.