Combating the illegal wildlife trade in northern Sumatra

Thanks to donations made through Wildlife Conservation International Canada Foundation, a newly formed wildlife protection team in northern Sumatra is making great inroads to combating the illegal wildlife trade.

Protecting and conserving remaining orangutan populations from the ongoing threats of land clearing, poaching and unlawful killing is an ongoing battle that requires dedicated on-ground resources.

The Orangutan Project has been a long-term partner of the Centre for Orangutan Protection (COP), an Indonesian-based direct-action group that operates numerous teams across Indonesia to investigate, document and expose the destruction of orangutan habitat and to undertake rescues of illegally held orangutans. 

In July 2021, a new team was established within COP - APE Sentinel - to cover the northern provinces of Aceh and North Sumatra on the island of Sumatra. Based in Medan, the team is tasked with investigating and campaigning against crimes and abuse of wild animals, undertaking the rescue of illegally held wild animals and providing assistance to improve conditions of those held legally in captive facilities. The team also works in coordination with the newly established Sumatran Rescue Alliance (SRA) rescue centre.

The team is funded exclusively by donations made through Wildlife Conservation International Canada Foundation (WCI Canada), a registered Canadian charity and an affiliate organisation of The Orangutan Project.

The team currently consists of Amey, Nanda Rizki (Son) and Risma, pictured below in their Medan office.


Becoming mobile

The first priority for the newly formed team was to secure a vehicle so they could undertake their work in northern Sumatra, including animal rescue and welfare checks and supporting law enforcement efforts.

Thanks to donations made through WCI-Canada, a 4WD vehicle was purchased in August 2021. 


Sumatra mission 2021

With the team now mobile, the next step was to gather data in order to develop a workplan for the team to be effective in their mission. At the start of September, the team embarked on a 28 day mission to check on the welfare of wildlife being kept in zoos across Sumatra, as well as to connect with local community networks, conduct community talks and promote the newly formed team in local media.

The team travelled 6,629 kilometres, visiting 11 cities across six provinces. They visited nine zoos, held 18 events and visited other rescue centres along the way.

Early on in their tour, the team was involved in the successful rescue of four eagles (one brahminy kite (Haliasur indus) and three changeable hawk-eagles (Nisaetus Cirrhatus) and the capture of an illegal trader coordinated with the Lampung Regional Police. 


Wildlife monitoring

In mid-October the team started tracking the illegal animal trade in Jambi. The target being investigated was a seller of animal parts. The team also collaborated with the APE Warrior team in Java to coordinate and collect data to investigate and assess the illegal animal trade in Sumatra. A successful confiscation of illegal animal parts was undertaken earlier this year as a result, the details of which are confidential at this time while authorities undertake the legal processes.

The team also conducted monitoring of bird markets in Medan with numerous long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) being sold illegally.

In November, the team visited a zoo in Medan that houses orangutans as well as the Punti Kayu Animal Rescue Centre in Palembang. It was determined that the rescue centre needed some assistance in site management including both in operations, feeding animals and maintaining enclosures.

Education & community engagement

During October to December, the team participated in numerous media and public speaking events to promote the new wildlife protection team and to highlight the issues of human and wildlife conflict, with a particular focus on orangutans. This included speaking on 105 Kiss FM radio in Medan, presenting at HKBP Nommensen University, and appearing in a TV podcast program with Binadharma TV.

In November, the team visited three schools to speak to children about orangutans and the importance of protecting them. One of the team members even dressed up in an orangutan costume and the children were very engaged with the visit.


Why your support is so important!

The work of the APE Sentinel team in northern Sumatra, alongside the other COP teams in Sumatra, Java and Borneo, is critical to combatting the illegal wildlife trade and providing a secure future for Critically Endangered orangutans and other Endangered and Threatened species.

Donations ensure the team can continue to carry on their work of monitoring, investigating and researching illegal activities; to campaign against crimes and abuse of animals; to rescue illegally held wild animals and provide assistance to those held legally in captive facilities; and to raise awareness of and educate the community in wildlife conservation.

Please make a donation today and help continue this vital work.


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