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Orangutan Conservation Programme

Every year one million hectares of rainforest fall victim to legal or illegal overexploitation. As a consequence, the orangutans are losing their habitat. The Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme SOCP is fighting to prevent these great apes from dying out and to protect their habitat, the tropical rainforest.


The orangutans are victims of the rapid deforestation of the rainforest. Their habitat is being cleared to produce timber and for new palm oil plantations. Indonesia has now become the biggest palm oil producer in the world. We can no longer imagine today’s industry without the versatile and inexpensive vegetable fat. One in two products at supermarkets contains palm oil. But nature is paying a high price for this. In most cases it is valuable tropical forests which are the victims of the palm oil plantations. This means that as well as the orangutan, many other species are also losing the basis of their existence. In addition, slash-and-burn agriculture and the drainage of swamp forests release large quantities of greenhouse gases, and the chemicals which are sprayed contaminate the soil. Where new plantations arise, there are often also conflicts for the land use rights.

Another reason why the orangutans are endangered is the trade of orangutan babies. These are seen as a status symbol. To get to the young animals, the mothers are shot dead. In many cases, the young orangutans also die when falling from the tree. If a baby survives the fall, it will often die later in captivity because of the stress caused by the traumatic experience.


Reintroduction to the wild of captured orangutans:

Orangutans kept illegally as pets or endangered are confiscated and given medical treatment in the SOCP rescue and nursing station. Then the orangutans are taken to one of the two reintroduction stations. Here they are prepared for life in their natural environment before being released.

> Rescue and nursing station
> Reintroduction to the wild

Research and monitoring:

Research provides the basis for successfully returning orangutans to the wild and protecting their habitat. In its four research stations, SOCP takes care of long-term research projects. This is because observing orangutans in the wild over several years is the only way to find out what is needed to protect them.

> Research stations

Protection and conservation of the habitat:

SOCP advocates the expansion of conservation areas and the improvement of protection in already existing conservation areas. The SOCP team runs campaigns and information activities to protect the orangutans and their habitat. The programme advocates sustainable palm oil cultivation.

> Rainforest conservation


  • So far, 403 orangutans have been taken to the rescue and nursing station and given treatment there.
  • In Jambi and in Jantho, a total of 303 orangutans have been successfully reintroduced to the wild.
  • The close cooperation between SOCP and the local authorities has led to a significant improvement in law enforcement. The authorities are able to confiscate so many more illegally held orangutans than before.
  • Establishment of a new Sumatran orangutan population in the Bukit Tigapuluh National Park, Central Sumatra, where the orangutans had died out. As a result, the chances of survival for the species are greatly improved.
  • After many years of lobbying by SOCP, in 2014 the government decided to declare Batang Toru as protection forest. This means that the local orangutan population, which is genetically very different from the northern population, is being given lasting protection.


The Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme SOCP is a joint programme of PanEco, its partner foundation YEL on Sumatra and the Indonesian Nature Conservation Authority. The programme is funded by donations from private individuals and other foundations.