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Friday, 27 July 2018 10:47

Rarest ape sighted with twins as Bodyshop & conservationists counter hydroelectric dam

Researchers in Indonesia have documented the first-ever sighting of twin Tapanuli Orangutan infants. The sighting is significant as Tapanuli Orangutans, a species that was only discovered in 2017, are the rarest ape in the world and face extinction. The immediate threat to the species comes from a Chinese-funded hydroelectric project which will further fragment the forest where the last remaining Tapanuli Orangutans live.

Orangutan Twins 2 Photo Credit  Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme SOCP copyTo counter the devastating effects of fragmentation, The Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP) team is working with The Body Shop to create ‘bio-bridges', restoring wildlife corridors in damaged landscapes that help endangered species to reconnect, breed and thrive again.

The twins sighting underlines the importance of preserving the Batang Toru forest and are a sign of hope that this species can be saved if urgent action is taken.

Christopher Davis, International Director of Corporate Responsibility and Campaigns, The Body Shop, says: “This is amazing news and we are proud to be working in this biodiversity forest. These newly discovered Tapanuli Orangutan twins give all of us at The Body Shop an added impetus to continue to raise awareness and support for the Batang Toru forest so that this newly discovered species will thrive.

"Our team in Indonesia is working with our local partners and the government to do all that we can to make our Bio-Bridges project here as successful as possible.”

Orangutan Twins2  copyIt was two SOCP staff, Andayani Oerta G and Ulil Amri Silitonga, based in the Batang Toru forest monitoring station in Tapanuli, who had the sighting of a lifetime. While on a routine search for orangutans and other wildlife just over a kilometre northwest of the station, they came across a female Tapanuli orangutan with her two infants.

Dr Ian Singleton, Director of the SOCP who himself spent several years studying wild Sumatran orangutans was also thrilled with the news: “I spent years studying orangutans in the wild and never saw a mother with twins, so yes, this is wonderful news.”

He continued: “But we also need to remember that the Tapanuli orangutan is the rarest and most endangered great ape in the world and only described last November. But these last forests where it occurs are already fragmented, and under immediate threat from a Chinese-funded hydroelectric project. We need to stop destroying more orangutan habitat and reconnect these forests as soon as possible. These still twins are a sign of hope that this species can be saved if we take urgent action to save it."

Aryo Widiwardhono, Chief Executive Officer of The Body Shop Indonesia, says: “We are delighted with the arrival of these new twin-born Orangutans, The Body Shop and our customers believe and more optimistic about the Batang Toru forest conservation efforts that we have started in 2016 through the bio-bridge programme. We hope everyone agree the importance of preserving this forest, because Orangutan Tapanuli is an almost extinct species and we have to protects and preserve Orangutans and the biodiversity in the Batang Toru Forest.”