UPDATE: ISLANDS FOR ORANGUTANS
For over a year now, our Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme SOCP has been building the Orangutan Haven, a space for orangutans that are not capable of surviving in the wild. In order to meet their particular needs, many things have to be taken into consideration. The objective is clear: The first orangutans should be able to move into their new homes in early 2019.
Sadly, there are more and more orangutans living in the SOCP’s rescue- and rehabilitation station, who cannot be released back into the wilderness because of injuries or chronical illnesses. In order to enable them to live the rest of their lives as pleasantly as possible, we are building the Orangutan Haven, where in the near future they are going to inhabit islands.
The construction is advancing rapidly. The moats surrounding the islands are fully excavated and are partially filled with water. In the next step, the structures on the islands allowing the orangutans to climb and pass the time, as well as small orangutan houses are being built. The latter will primarily be used for monitoring and medical examinations. They have to be built with special precaution, as they need to be on the “mainland” in order to allow the keepers good access, but at the same time prevent the orangutans, who are scared of water, from fleeing the islands.
Because the islands are the central element of the Orangutan Haven, visitor access routes need to be built. For the construction of these routes we employ local, manual labour. This promotes inclusion of the local population and utilizes the workers’ long-time experience in this challenging terrain.
One of the biggest challenges is the erosion of soil at the steep slopes surrounding the islands. However, we found some solutions. The slopes above the trails were planted with vetiver, whose roots stabilise the surrounding soil. Additionally, the dams were covered with a mesh and a clay mixture, ensuring the necessary protection as well as filtering the spring water, allowing the orangutans to drink it.