Our Goal: Isolated forests connected, fragmentation of orangutan populations reversed.
Orangutans can live for over 40 years, but females will only have around three offspring in their lifetimes. The bond between an orangutan mother and her young is one of the strongest in nature. The mothers stay with their young for six to eight years, teaching them where to find food, what and how to eat, how to avoid predators and the technique for building a sleeping nest. This makes them extremely vulnerable and slow to recover from disturbances. They need large areas of connected habitat to find enough food throughout the year to maintain a genetically healthy population.
On Sumatra, orangutans face a range of constraints – including the fragmentation of their habitat. It is often not just the scale of habitat loss that has an impact on orangutans, but the pattern of forest degradation. Farmlands, energy infrastructure, roads and other human made barriers can cut through natural landscapes and prevent connectivity between populations, leading to orangutans being trapped in isolated pockets of forest.
These limitations need to be addressed with innovative and locally-sensitive approaches to give these animals the opportunity to thrive in extensive areas of habitat, while giving forest-edge communities living alongside orangutans the opportunity to flourish, too.
Unless these fragmented habitats are protected and reconnected, there is a risk that some of these populations might disappear– either rapidly due to natural disasters, disease or human intervention, or gradually through the genetic effects of in-breeding. Small populations in isolated forest patches are often labelled ‘functionally extinct’ – surviving for now but heading towards extinction in the longer term.
By 2030, SOS will have contributed to enhancing the viability of wild populations of Sumatran and Tapanuli orangutans, securing and recovering connectivity between populations that are genetically isolated or vulnerable to functional extinction.
To find out more about our goals to 2030 dive into our Conservation Greenprint here.
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