By Bunmi Adigun @Bunmi_Adigun
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Videographer / director: Jefta Images
Producer: Charley Sutton, Ruby Coote
Editor: Jack Stevens
The Human Orangutan Conflict Response Unit (HOCRU) operate out of Sumatra, Indonesia, with the sole aim of protecting the region’s fragile orangutan population.
Since 2012 the team have already captured more than 10 orangutans who found themselves stuck in the palm oil plantations, and fear the number will continue to rise.
Panut Hadisiswoyo, the director of Orangutan Information Centre - an NGO that heads up the HOCRU - said: “This location used to be the habitat of orangutans and then turned into oil palm plantations. There are several enclaves of orangutan that are isolated inside and are unable to return to the forest.”
The two orangutans - a mother and her son - were taken to the Gunung Leuser National Park and then returned to the wild.
It’s estimated that every year up to 1,500 orangutans are killed on palm oil plantations either due to loss of habitat or poachers.
Palm oil is found in everyday products such as cosmetics and detergents and is integral to the Indonesian economy, one of the biggest producers of it.
To make way for the plantations, hundreds of acres of the forest is cleared, leaving orangutans stranded and forced to adapt to a change of environment.
Many of the orangutans who avoid being killed by poachers, or taken as illegal pets, usually die from malnutrition as they only feed on palm fruit which is not sufficient for them to survive.
Panut said: “Orangutans, like humans, will quickly adjust to a new habitat. If they live in palm oil plantations they will eat the fruit.
However this is not ideal for orangutans as they will be susceptible to illness and malnutrition because they are eating unfavourable fruits such as eating rubber or the palm fruit.”
Currently in Sumatra there are only 6000 orangutans left in the wild.