MONITORING ACTIVITIES IN SIKUNDUR
In 2013 our research station in Sikundur started its data collection effort. Find out why the station is producing special results.
Our Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme SOCP operates four research stations in typical orangutan habitats in Sumatra. The station in Sikundur was started by the SOCP in 2013. Looking for a suitable location for a new research station at that time, the choice fell on an old camp that had originally been built by the “Leuser International Foundation”.
Sikundur is located on the eastern edge of the Leuser Ecosystem. A large part of the primary rainforest in the area fell victim to logging in the 1970s and 1980s but by the late 1990’s was already regenerating naturally.
In the early 2000’s, some interesting results from Sikundur were published by Dr. Eva Knop and Dr. Serge Wich. These confirmed that orangutans will return to areas that were once completely destroyed – as long as there is a sufficiently large food supply. These results show the specific value of monitoring activities in Sikundur compared to other sites. Until a few years ago, there was a lack of knowledge about Sumatran orangutans in less productive or degraded landscapes. Nor had there ever been any detailed long-term studies of orangutans at the eastern side of the Leuser Ecosystem. This is because Sikundur is a region that has been largely ignored by universities due to low orangutan density, low habitat productivity and heavy human settlement, whilst researchers tend to look for areas with high orangutan densities, so they can maximise their data. This has resulted in a lack of knowledge of orangutan behaviour, demography, ecological and physiological variability in less ‘optimal’ habitat types – all factors that are critical to understanding the future viability of their populations.