There are fewer than 14,000 Sumatran orangutans and fewer than 800 Tapanuli orangutans left in the wild. These species are Critically Endangered, and already in a precarious position. At the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Indonesian government made the choice to protect orangutans and the guides who lead tourists through the national parks by closing national parks to tourists. This was the right thing to do, but it has had unintended negative consequences.
With no furlough scheme for the guides who are now out of work at Bukit Lawang, Tangkahan and Ketambe (three tourist sites in the Leuser Ecosystem), the income supporting their families has disappeared overnight. Their food security is tenuous, and they don’t know when visitors will be allowed to return.
We’ve spoken to Darma, who runs Nature for Change and has lived in Bukit Lawang for decades. Many of the people who are now without income are his friends and neighbours, and he knows how hard this time is for them. He’s given us a list of the supplies people are struggling to afford, and we want to raise the money to give as many families as possible some rice, eggs, sugar and noodles so that they have some of the basics they need and can supplement them with fruits and vegetables from their smallholdings, or their friends’ smallholdings. We will be working with Darma and Orangutan Information Centre to distribute the aid in Bukit Lawang, Tangkahan and Ketambe.
To buy a day’s worth of supplies for one family costs £1.40, so ten days’ worth would be £14, or a month’s worth would be £42.
Please donate to make an extremely difficult time just a bit easier for people who’ve taken a huge hit to their income to keep orangutans safe.
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