Batang Toru

Sydney Jones

Press Secretary

[email protected]

Carole Mitchell

Sr. Director Communications

[email protected]
A Tapanuli orangutan. Photo: Andrew Walmsley

A new article in Mongabay exposes in breathtaking detail the dire threat that the Tapanuli orangutan now faces. Identified as a unique species in 2017, the discovery of the Tapanuli stunned the scientific community and drew international headlines. This announcement marked the first time since the 1920s that a new species of great ape had been found. The Tapanuli is one of just eight great apes on the planet — including humans. It now faces an existential threat, as the Bank of China and an overlapping maze of Indonesian and Chinese entities aim to build a dam that would permanently fragment its habitat.

The Tapanuli orangutan has a total population of just 800 — far lower than any other great ape species. They are found exclusively in the Batang Toru forest, on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia. The Tapanuli are already under siege from a dizzying array of threats. Poaching, habitat loss, and climate change are all pushing them to the brink. The Batang Toru dam would permanently bisect their territory, impeding each Tapanuli orangutan’s potential to find a mate and lessening their ability to sustain the level of genetic diversity needed to remain viable.

National Geographic aptly summarized the dire situation: “The world’s rarest great ape, discovered only in 2017, will not survive the building of a $1.6 billion hydroelectric power plant and dam in the middle of its remaining habitat in Sumatra, Indonesia, wildlife experts warn.”

In all recorded human history, no great ape has been made extinct. If the Batang Toru dam is built, that will no longer be true.



This Planet Story shows the hydrodam’s progress from June 2017-February 2019, including forest clearance, establishment of spoil pits, and road development for access. Credit: James Askew

At Mighty Earth, we are asking Joko Widodo, President of Indonesia, to cancel the dam project. You can view the letter we sent to President Jokowi in English and Bahasa

We are also calling on the Bank of China to de-fund the dam and on other Chinese and Indonesian entities to pull out of the project, including Sinohydro and the Dharmawangsa Group. Each has the power to withdraw its financing and protect the Tapanuli.

The Tapanuli is one of humanity’s closest relatives, and we now have only a small window left before it’s too late to save them. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Palm Oil Report 44
Protected: Avoiding forests, protecting people, and electrifying vehicles
Monitoring Report: Mayawana Persada