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Stop Bulldozing the Tapanuli Orangutan!
The uncovering of the Tapanuli orangutan as a distinct species in 2017 was a remarkable revelation. However, this discovery came with impending doom - this newly recognized species is already on the brink of extinction. Merely 800 of these unique beings persist, secluded in a petite tract of forest in Northern Sumatra. Unfortunately, their sanctuary is under imminent threat of destruction due to a proposed Chinese hydropower project. Join us in our fight to preserve these valuable creatures and their habitat.
Sporting distinctive long, wavy hair, the orangutans of Tapanuli in North Sumatra, Indonesia, are remarkably different from their kin in other regions of Sumatra and on Borneo. The vocalizations of the males could easily be mistaken for a human dialect.
Only in November 2017 did scientists discover that these unique orangutans in Tapanuli are not a subspecies of the Sumatran orangutan, but a distinct species of their own, designated as Pongo tapanuliensis. Genome analysis proved these unique creatures diverged from the Borneo orangutan lineage around 670,000 years ago, making them the scarcest and most critically endangered orangutan species.
This revelation only underscores how little we know about our nearest relatives and how incomplete our comprehension of biodiversity remains. Surprisingly, we are driving species towards extinction faster than we can uncover and document them. The Tapanuli orangutans could soon be added to that list if a gargantuan hydropower project proceeds within their habitat.
A mere 800 individuals remain, these being the last of their kind, struggling for survival in the forest region south of Lake Toba. Within this same Batang Toru Forest, Sinohydro, a state-owned Chinese hydropower company, intends to build a dam for a 510 MW power plant as a part of China's ambitious Belt & Road mega-infrastructure initiative.
The prospect of the dam has sparked outrage amongst wildlife experts since its creation would obliterate the sole habitat of the Tapanuli orangutan, subsequently instigating the downfall of the world's rarest primate.
Is the production of a few hundred megawatts of electricity worth the life sentence we inflict upon our closest evolutionary kin? Implore the Indonesian and Chinese governments to discard their plans immediately! Join us in preserving these remarkable creatures.