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The newly discovered orangutan will soon die. It is in the way of a hydropower plant

The tragedy quickly becomes a natural stunning: Tapanulian orangutan, which was "discovered" only six months ago, can soon become extinct. The isolated area in which it is located is to divide the reservoir of the newly built power plant. It's about the Guardian.

The fact that the orangutan tapanulist will face a likely threat of extinction only half a year after its discovery is at least alarming.
The planned construction project, ie the construction of a 510 MW hydroelectric power station in Batang Toru, has no effect yet. The Chinese company Sinohydro, which implements the contract, continues boldly to clear the forest in places of future water reservoir. The renewable energy project still has full support from the Indonesian government.

Instead of one population two. Or none

"The construction of the reservoir will divide the current population of orangutans," comments Erik Meijaard, director of the conservation organization BorneoFutures and one of the experts who described the new species of orangutan. "Instead of eaten, already a very small population with 800 pieces, there will be two. And two small populations have much less chance of survival than one big. " The construction will immediately hit 10-20% of the existing population and will avoid contact between individuals living on the newly-created East and West Banks. "Their next contact will no longer be possible," Meijaard adds.

The catastrophe is not limited to the division of the population, but it will hit hard all the animals in the area. "It's not just about destroying habitats," says Gabriella Fredriksson, a researcher at the Sumatran rescue program for orangutans. "The dam means further fragmentation of the landscape. Roads, tunnels, high voltage lines. Accessible territory will quickly be subject to further changes and pressure from humans. Two of the three sub-populations of Tapanulian orangutan will die very quickly, the third will probably survive for a little longer. " Maybe for several years.

We will take care of them!

The Indonesian government is in an unpleasant situation: last November promised the new kind of orangutan the maximum possible protection. But in a previously approved Sinohydro project, there is no mention of primates either. "Indonesia should start to respect at least its own laws," says Meijaard. "Orangutan is a protected species and it is obvious that the hydroelectric project will lead to its destruction. The government should act. "

Wiranto, the former Supreme Commander of the Indonesian Armed Forces and the current Director of the Department of Natural Resources at the Ministry of the Environment, says Orangutans will be taken care of. "I'm sure they will be fully protected." He has sent teams of experts to the field to investigate the situation. But cutting still goes on. Whether orangutan tapanulic will follow in forgetting the Java or Balinese tiger (just like the Sumatran rhinoceros, barely 30-100 in the wild) is uncertain.

Critics of the hydropower project point out that "other than national interests" are behind the construction, as well as corruption. The northern part of Sumatra is said to have suffered from a lack of electricity and, if new energy sources were to be built, a much greater potential (and less damage to the orangutan population) would be the geothermal power plant. Drills can provide up to 1 GW of clean energy. The question is whether there is the extinction of the whole species of the great primate (this would be the first case in this century) for 510 MW of pure energy.

Author: Radomír Dohnal

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