As habitat destruction expands (most recently logging and draining the Tripa Swamp in Leuser Ecosystem for palm oil plantations), poaching and illegal capture of endangered Sumatran orangutans (Pongo abelii) increases. Read the article: Everywhere else but home. What’s going on? A … Continue reading
From Sumatran Orangutan Society Newsletter Emergency: Planned destruction of 1.2 Million hectares of forest in Sumatra The Governor of Aceh province in Sumatra is set to wipe 1.2 million hectares of forest off the map, replacing some of the most … Continue reading
SoS: Urgent: Tell the UK Government to Stop Biofuelling Deforestation from Sumatran Orangutan Society The UK Government is offering subsidies to energy companies to burn palm oil in power stations, as part of plans to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas … Continue reading
This is heartbreaking. I'm glad Mike Griffiths is still fighting the good fight, at least.
Taking to the streets over Cargill's participation in palm oil: who are these audacious primates?
Take Action for Forests: 3 campaign alerts from Sumatran Orangutan Society 1) Save Tripa, Save Orangutans Thanks to the worldwide outcry for the Indonesian government to put an end to the destruction of the Tripa peat swamp forests, home to … Continue reading
A great new addition to the Great Ape Conservation info – right in my backyard, so to speak.
“We are accepting (working or not plus accessories) cellphones, iPods, MP3 Players, laptops, digital cameras, all small computer accessories, inkjet printer cartridges, energy bar wrappers (foil inside), potato chip bags and corks to help raise funds for the Orangutan Conservancy, Santa Cruz SPCA and Save Our Shores. Over 2500 cell phones, 50,000 corks, and 19,000 energy bar wrappers have been kept out of the landfill and refurbished or recycled in environmentally-safe ways through our program. They can be given to Phil. Other out-dated or unwanted electronics, including computers and TVs, can be recycled for free at Grey Bears on Chanticleer near the old Skyview Drive-Inn and Flea Market. Read about the increasingly sad plight of the Orangutan (which is Malaysian for “person of the forest”).”
I realize that the title of my blog probably makes some think that I’d be talking about non-human primates a bit more. But, despite the fact that I could be called an expert on them, I find it very difficult to devote much time or thought to these creatures that I love. It simply hurts way too much.
Bonobo (Pan paniscus) - photo by FJ White
I went to Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) to study female cooperation among bonobos in 1996. I had to leave after a couple months, in part because a civil war was brewing (it continues to simmer). War is bad for any primate that’s unwittingly caught in the middle – for large monkeys and apes in Africa, it means an increased threat of poaching as well-armed mauraders move through their habitats. In Congo, a lot of the money that keeps the war going comes from coltan – essentially, people like us buying electronic gadgets.
Sumatran Orangutan (Pongo abelii) - photo by M Merrill
So I changed my research topic to social learning in orangutans, and went to Sumatra in 1999. While I was there, one of the research sites where I lived was being logged illegally. I wrote letters and set up a website about it, but I wasn’t able to do much to stop it. I somehow managed to get through analyzing what data I had and get my dissertation done in 2004, and I haven’t really been involved in primate research since. The wounds just never healed right.
I face the pain from this every semester when I come to the place in the Introduction to Biological Anthropology classes I teach where I have to talk about my research and primate conservation. It’s always a hard week.
Now I’ve been asked to co-present on great ape conservation with some of my colleagues at Cabrillo College, so I’m facing it at least twice this semester. This also necessitated putting together some resources (though Renee found more of them) – I’ve posted those here: Great Ape Conservation.
I keep hoping someday this will get easier, it will hurt less so I can do more, but the news keeps getting worse. So I try to focus on the things I can do here, just simple stuff like changing the entire culture of consumerism that is driving the destruction.
Wish me luck!
Posted in culture change, nature
Tagged apes, bonobos, conservation, education, nature, orangutans, politics, resilience, science, sustainability, trees, wildlife