As well as thousands of species of animals and plants, more than four million people in Sumatra rely on the existence and preservation of the Leuser forests. Without the forest, temperatures would soar, huge amounts of carbon would be released into the atmosphere from peat stores in the rainforest, and many surrounding villages would flood. De-forestation for farmlands destroys all manner of natural balances and is one of the biggest drivers of climate change, a danger which affects us all.
All the species that share the rainforest have a part to play in the health of the ecosystem, but orangutans are sometimes referred to as ‘gardeners of the forest’. They eat hundreds of different types of fruit, and spread the seeds throughout the forest in their dung. They also make a new nest to sleep in every evening, breaking branches and allowing light through the thick canopy onto the forest floor, helping young plants to thrive and grow.
The orangutan is one of our closest relatives in the animal kingdom, sharing 96.4% of our DNA. Indigenous people of Indonesia and Malaysia call this ape “Orang Hutan” which literally translates as “Person of the Forest”.
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For me, the fact that I'm only in year 8 has not affected my love of orangutans and fundraising. I think that most people my age don't realise how easy it is to get involved with charities like SOS. Fundraising for SOS has been an amazing experience because I know what incredible work they do. I think it's really important for the next generation to find out about conservation because in the end, we're going to be the generation who has the power to destroy or save the earth.
- Isabel Warren, SOS supporter, age 12
Want to save Sumatra's orangutans? Click here to find out how!