Bukit Tigapuluh: An Introduction

The Sumatran rainforest is one of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world, containing thousands of endemic species as well as habitat for the last remaining wild orangutans and Sumatran rhinos, elephants, and tigers. However, for the past half-century, the forests have been in grave decline due to threats from the ever-expanding palm oil industry. From 1985 to 1997, Sumatra lost 67,000 km2 of its original forest, with most of the loss occurring in lowland forests and old-growth forest shrank by 40% between 1990 and 2010. Perhaps one of the most important, and endangered, forests on the island are within Bukit Tigapuluh National Park.

Established in 1995, it protects the largest area of lowland forest and is home to all the charismatic animals that call Sumatra home. Located near the center of the island, the park is also inhabited by the indigenous Talang Mamak and Orang Rimba tribes. Although designated as a National Park, nearly two-thirds of the park has been logged. But all hope is not lost in Bukit Tigapuluh.

In 2001, a reintroduction program for orangutans run by the German Biologist, Peter Pratje, was established next to the park, creating the only remaining lowland population of the great ape on the island. Then, in 2010, the World Wildlife Foundation, along with Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, Frankfurt Zoological Society, and the Orangutan Project, managed to protect a logging concession of 100,000 acres with the support of local communities, bordering the park's 330,000-acres. But there is still work to be done. Much of the protected concession has already been logged and intense reforestation efforts are underway to repair the damage of the past. Those conservationists working on Bukit Tigapuluh National Park need as much help as they can get, and the Princeton Sunda Rainforest Trust hopes to be able to give them just that.

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