- as landmark conservation agreement spells Red Letter day for Red Apes
A new £200,000 fundraising appeal by the Orangutan Foundation has been boosted by the signing of a landmark conservation agreement to further protect a ‘red ape’ release site in Central Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo.
The Foundation’s ‘20/20 Vision of a Future - for orangutans, forests and people' – also celebrates 20 years of stellar conservation success, elevating it from a standing start to a position at the forefront of international efforts to protect the great apes.
The Vision appeal carries bold ambition – to halt the decline of orangutans by 2020 with remaining wild populations stable or expanding.
Illustrating its achievements is the newly signed Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve Ecosystem declaration, in which all stakeholders committed to support the conservation of the 56,000 ha reserve and its newly agreed buffer zone surrounding it, which are home to many endangered species, including orangutans.
It is endorsed by two district governments, surrounding villages, community organisations and even two oil palm companies.
Not only will signatories share responsibility for and involvement in the reserve, threatened by human encroachment and economic forces, but their declaration represents a template for the sustainability of wildlife reserves everywhere subjected to the conflicts of competing interests, believes Orangutan Foundation founder and director Ashley Leiman OBE.
“This declaration is a massive achievement. It has taken more than two years to achieve this agreement and it embodies conservation at a truly local level. That’s the key to the success and its importance cannot be over-emphasised,” she said.
The appeal aims to raise at least £200,000 during 2011, increasing the Foundation’s efforts to: ensure that protected orangutan areas stay protected; create new conservation areas to protect critical populations of wild orangutans; secure long-term funding for valuable habitat; and help reduce carbon emissions by preventing deforestation.
“Our appeal highlights the need for continued action for orangutans, forests and people. It’s particularly topical as we enter the International Year of Forests, but it also marks 20 years of achievement which this new declaration demonstrates so perfectly.”
“Back in September 1990, when our first member joined, I never imagined that 20 years later the Foundation would be at the forefront of international orangutan conservation,” said Ashley, awarded the OBE for her work. “We have made a major difference and thanks are due to so many people.”
The highs have been many; negotiating bans on trade in endangered species, helping establish orangutan care centres and veterinary care, enabling research, tackling illegal logging, stopping an 8,000 hectare oil palm plantation, establishing a volunteer programme, encouraging responsible tourism and even inaugurating a ten-day Red Ape Trail trek ... all the while raising awareness of the plight of the orangutan.
Helping to secure the protection of the Lamandau River reserve was itself a notable achievement, protecting an ecological treasure in terms of animal biodiversity and safeguarding carbon-rich forests. More than 160 orangutans have now been released there, with 40 successful births.
Low points have included catastrophic forest fires, with staff and fire fighters tackling a blaze which had destroyed a significant area of Tanjung Puting National Park. Their efforts saved the heart of the park - and countless orangutans.
Wildlife conservation icon Sir David Attenborough acknowledged the Orangutan Foundation’s anniversary with this message of support:
“I have seen firsthand what wonderful work the Foundation is doing but there is still a great deal to be done. May your past successes encourage you and give you the strength to tackle what lies ahead.”
With oil palm operations increasingly a threat to habitat, the Foundation welcomes the significant involvement of oil palm companies ‘BGA’ and ‘Sungai Rangit’ in the declaration, with both having previously agreed not to establish oil palm plantations within 500 metres of the reserve boundaries. Additionally, they will also report any orangutan and other protected wildlife if they enter a plantation area.
Editor’s Notes: Great Things from Small Beginnings … key successes include
- Securing the protection of the Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve through a conservation and community development programme in collaboration with Yayorin, a local Indonesian NGO and co-funded by the EU
- Re-introducing and protecting a viable orangutan population in Central Kalimantan
- Working with Yayorin, to safeguard the largest wild population of orangutans outside a protected area within the Belantikan forests, Central Kalimantan. Established initially with co-funding from the EU through UNEP
- Involving and educating local people – supporting Yayorin who run an education and sustainable livelihood programme
- Safeguarding the critical population of orangutans through habitat protection in Tanjung Puting National Park
- Developing and maintaining a vital research centre in Tanjung Puting – now used by international researchers, students and universities
- Introducing more than 1,000 people to the wonders of the rainforests and orangutans through responsible tourism and by working with the travel company Steppes Discovery for more than 10 years
Downloadable images here: http://www.orangutan.org.uk/about-us/photo-gallery and read the Red Ape newsletter for step-by-step detail of 20 successful years of orangutan conservation.
For interview: contact Ashley Leiman OBE or Cathy Smith (assistant to the director)
020 7724 2912 www.orangutan.org.uk