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RESEARCH FOR THE BENEFIT OF ORANGUTANS James Askew during a recording experiment in the Sikundur research Station (Photo: John Abernethy) Full view


The research effort which is part of our orang-utan protection program is the basis for a successful reintroduction of orang-utans into the wild and for the protection of the rainforest, their natural habitat. Each year, students form universities in Great-Britain, the Netherlands, the United States, Switzerland and Indonesia help our local research teams on Sumatra with their work. One of our research stations is in Sikundur, on the edge of the well-known Leuser ecosystem. Research in this area is extremely exciting as the rainforest of Sikundur is a so-called “secondary forest”. The Sikundur orang-utans live in a rainforest which had been cleared but which has grown again. This is a scenario which will repeat itself frequently in the future. Last year, three students, together with local staff, examined the behaviour of orang-utans in this area and also its biodiversity.

Degraded rainforest as habitat for orang-utans
PhD Student John Abernethy of Liverool’s John Moores University conducted detailed research of orang-utan nests. This helped him to calculate the population density and to compare this data with the structure of their habitat. As part of rainforest near the research station was cleared last year, his study shows revealing results on how orang-utans act in a degraded forest. John Abernethy’s work is particularly important for the future strategy on how to protect the orang-utans because a large part of the lowlands, where the orang-tans live, was either cleared or is degraded.

The liana, a food plant for orang-utans
A different study was compiled by Soepriadi Amry of the Medan Area University. He examined how orang-utans fed on the liana plants. Around 15% of the food and 26% of all fruit the Sikundur orang-utans consume comes from liana species. This makes these climbing plants particularly important for the survival of the orang-utans.

Orangutan «long calls» – a special characteristic
James Askew of the University of Southern California examined the special behaviour of the local orang-utan population. In particular, he studied the so-called “long-calls” used by the males to attract the females. In order to do this, James Askew used recordings of these prolonged calls and evaluated the reactions of the orang-utans he observed. Currently, James Askwe is on Kalimantan and works on a similar study of a population of Borneo orang-utans.
> James Askew’s science blog (en)

Please read the interesting yearly report of the Sikundur researchstation.
>Sikundur yearly report