Small but Special
As well as reinvigorating Ketambe and Suaq Balimbing, SOCP established a new research site of a small, but highly significant orangutan population in Batang Toru.
Our latest research site, and the newest orangutan site in Sumatra, is of the southernmost naturally occurring wild Sumatran orangutan population in the Batang Toru Forests of North Sumatra province. This relatively small but highly significant population is of considerable interest, since it has probably been geographically isolated from all the other populations further north for a very long time. SOCP has built a small research camp and trail system in the Batang Toru Forests of North Sumatra and is in the process of establishing research on this population, by documenting and habituating the orangutans there. We have also set up nest censuses and phenology plots to monitor the forest productivity.
This forest is of higher altitude than the two sites in Aceh, meaning orangutans exist here at much lower densities. But the population is highly interesting as the tree species composition of Batang Toru is very different than the lowland sites in Ketambe and Suaq. Hence the orangutans have been found to eat completely new and unknown species of fruit. The terrain in Batang Toru is very steep and rugged in places. As a result, it is taking a while to start collecting detailed behavioural and ecological data on the orangutans, but we are working hard on this and hope to have some new insights in to this population, and in to orangutans generally, from the data we are to collect in the coming years.