Mobile Education and Conservation Unit

The Mobile Education & Conservation Unit (MECU), created in 2009, is used to deliver targeted conservation education in remote areas around the Gunung Leuser Ecosystem in Sumatra where human/ape conflict exists. The team also conducts conservation related programs benefiting ape survival.

The project’s intent is to provide a multipurpose, reliable vehicle for educators and conservation specialists of the Orangutan Caring Club of North Sumatra to access locations near orangutan habitat in order to:

  • deliver education programmes regarding orangutan, wildlife, environment and conservation to  local villagers, and
  • transport young trees to areas adjacent to orangutan habitat that require reforestation.

The focus will be to address conflict issues specific to living within close proximity of the critically endangered Sumatran orangutan, as well as the endangered Lar gibbon and Siamang. Additional focus will be placed on enrolling and engaging the villagers in tree planting to rehabilitate degraded orangutan and other wildlife habitat which also has the benefit of revitalising forests and preventing floods.

It is predicted that the MECU programme will promote humane conflict mitigation strategies between apes and villagers. Thus a reduction in the level of violence between orangutans and humans is anticipated along with a decline in the incidence of illegal trading of the species.

Project Leader: Gary Shapiro