Orangutan rescue - SOS – Sumatran Orangutan Society
a rescued sumatran orangutan

Gita Defoe - Photographers Without Borders

Orangutan Rescue

As more and more trees fall in Sumatra, we are seeing a new crisis unfold for orangutans that are coming into contact, and conflict, with humans

Trapped in tiny patches of forest surrounded by farmlands, cut off from viable areas of habitat, orangutans may resort to raiding crops for survival. For smallholder farmers, this can seriously threaten their livelihoods, and their retaliation can be fatal.


The Human Orangutan Conflict Response Unit (HOCRU) is the only active orangutan rescue team in Sumatra. They regularly evacuate orangutans from condemned forests that are being torn down by bulldozers, then release them into safe habitat.

Paul Hilton

Paul Hilton

Rescues are just one element of the HOCRU programme. The team also seeks to tackle the causes of human-orangutan conflict, provides training so that agricultural communities can protect their crops without harming wildlife, and supports government capacity in dealing with this growing problem.

Rescue operations usually involve driving hundreds of miles, often off-road, so it’s vital for the HOCRU teams to have four-wheel-drive trucks they can rely upon. The South Aceh team, who made headlines in 2019 when they rescued an orangutan called Hope who had been shot 74 times, are currently having major problems with their truck – it breaks down regularly and the expense of repairing it is a big drain on the team’s rescue budget. They are doing everything they can to ensure they still get to the orangutans who need their help, but what they really need is a new vehicle. Please click here to help us raise enough money to buy the new truck they so desperately need.

Our partners also confiscate orangutans from the illegal pet trade – a by-product of deforestation, as shrinking forests make them easy targets for poachers.

These rescues are vital – with so few Sumatran orangutans left in the wild, every life is precious. However, they do not solve the larger problem that is driving human-wildlife conflict. To protect orangutans in the long term, we need to ensure that their habitat is safe.

To read more about the role of rescue and translocation in orangutan conservation please click here.

Orangutan rescue

Gita Defoe - Photographers Without Borders

Orangutan rescue


orangutans have been rescued so far

An adult sumatran orangutan

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