Sungai Pengian Station: Sumatran Orangutan Reintroduction Site

Bukit Tigapuluh (BTP) National Park is located in the provinces of Jambi and Riau in Sumatra. BTP is the site of the only Sumatran orangutan reintroduction centre; Sungai Pengian. The BTP re-introduction project objectives are:

  1. To enhance the long-term survival of a species
  2. To re-establish a keystone species
  3. To restore natural biodiversity

Sumatran orangutan populations (IUCN Critically Endangered) now number less than 7% of what existed in 1900. Sumatran orangutans are the slowest reproducing species in the world, with an inter-birth interval of nine years. There are approximately only 6,300 left in the wild and the current rate of loss is approximately 1,000 per year. Unfortunately, 80% of the remaining current orangutan habitat is covered by timber concessions in the troubled province of Aceh.

As the Sumatran orangutan is Critically Endangered, it is imperative that viable released populations are built up outside of the Aceh province. The BTP (144,000 ha) most likely contains the entire mega fauna of Sumatra, including the Sumatran tiger, Sumatran elephant, Sun Bear, tapir, probably still some Sumatran rhinos and now the Sumatran orangutan, which was hunted to extinction in the 1800’s.

The BTP re-introduction project is a co-operation between the BTP, the Nature Conservation Department (BKSDA) of the provinces of Jambi and Riau, The Orangutan Project (TOP) and the Frankfurt Zoological Society. The Park is successfully protected by eight Wildlife Protection Units, funded by TOP.

A survey in 2000 found that BTP was a highly suitable habitat for the Sumatran orangutan. A conservative estimate for the BTP Bukit Tigapuluh area, only taking the remaining primary forest into account, extrapolates a carrying capacity of approximately 750 orangutans. The whole BTP Bukit Tigapuluh forest block is ten times larger than the area included in the evaluation, and therefore has a much higher potential than stated in the survey. Over 150 orangutans have already been released.