Matt is a photojournalist and archaeologist based between Jackson Hole and Boston. Working alongside field researchers and nonprofit organizations, he currently writes and photographs articles related to culture, history, and conservation for...
Panut Hadisiswoyo, a National Geographic Explorer and founder of the Orangutan Information Centre, has devoted his career to fighting rainforest destruction and in rescuing and rehabilitating Sumatran Orangutans. His organization is also the first in all of southeast Asia to succesfully rehabilitate palm oil plantations into secondary rainforest. He hopes that by setting a positive example and inspiring others to help, it will be possible to repair the damages to the wild lands of Sumatra.
The efforts of the Orangutan Information Center are making an impact and are showcasing that eco-tourism, in places like the town of Bukit Lawang, can have a stronger effect on the community than more destructive activities like palm oil agriculture, hunting, or logging.
Because wild space is disappearing in Sumatra, the ability to rehabiliate injured and rescued animals is becoming problematic. Many, such as the Gibbon pictured in this image, are 'rescued' and deposited at the Medan Zoo where they are forced to live in cages and inhumane conditions. Several zookeepers understand the poor conditions, but admit that there is simply nowhere else to put animals that are not fit to live in the wild.
Activism, Animals, Conservation, Culture, Environment, Indonesia, Nature, Orangutan, Orangutans, Photography, Photojournalism, Sumatra
Since the 1980s, the vast majority of primary rainforest in Sumatra has been eliminated for agriculture and palm oil production. This fragile habitat is considered to be one of the most biologically diverse on the planet and is the only place where tigers, elephants, rhinos, and apes can be found in the same place. If nothing is done, it is expected that by 2030, all primary forests on Sumatra will disappear and the critically endangered Sumatran Orangutan will forever become extinct. Organizations including the Orangutan Information Center and Sumatran Wildlife Sanctuary are spearheading efforts to rescue and protect wild orangutans, and to establish sustainable eco-tourism in Sumatra that will promote conservation. Photographed and written for The New York Times