Monday, 12 Rabiul Akhir 1441 / 09 December 2019

Monday, 12 Rabiul Akhir 1441 / 09 December 2019

Orangutans that awaited by people in Batang Toru

Selasa 16 Jul 2019 08:50 WIB

Rep: Puti Almas/ Red: Nur Aini

PT NSHE sedang meninjau site pembangunan PLTA Batang Toru, Sitandiang, Tapsel, Kamis (2/5).

PT NSHE sedang meninjau site pembangunan PLTA Batang Toru, Sitandiang, Tapsel, Kamis (2/5).

Foto: Republika/Idealisa Masyrafina
Batang Toru hydropower has biodiversity action plan to ensure of orangutan habitats.

REPUBLIKA.CO.ID, SOUTH TAPANULI -- The appearance of orangutans in Sugi Village, Marancar, South Tapanuli, North Sumatra is always awaited by people there. One of the local community members, Ridwan Simatupang said orangutans gives benefit for the people due to it repeled the monkey in the salak farm.

The monkey always like to mess salak farm. However, they are afraid of orangutans. Many people in Sugi Village cultivate salak farm. 

According to Ridwan, he once saw pregnant orangutans. Another resident, Erwin Pasaribu said there was no orangutans that are protected by the community in his village. 

Many people in the region believe orangutans has supernatural powers. Whoever hurt the animal will be exposed to curses. This belief makes people do not want to disturb the existence of orangutans. 

People in Hatabosi Village also said durians on the trees also belong to orangutans. For villagers around the Sibual-buali Nature Reserve forest area, the presence of orangutans in production forests is common. In the production forest, residents often plant a variety of fruit trees, such as durian, zalacca, mangosteen, jackfruit, petai, and langsat.

Apart from ancestral beliefs, there are also those who feel disadvantaged by orangutans presence. Such as Bonar Siregar from Batangpaya Village who said orangutans ate durians on his six fruit trees. 

“I could lose Rp 600.000,” said Bonar. 

More orangutans were predicted to come to Batangpaya Village. The animal can come in groups which consist 5 to 8 orangutans. 

Conservation efforts involving the community began after various issues regarding orangutans were disturbed by the construction of Batang Toru hydropower plant. A number of people did not agree with the construction project because they assessed it could disturb habitat of orangutans. 

Batangtoru forest ecosystems are in three districts, namely South Tapanuli, Central Tapanuli, and North Tapanuli. The status of forests in this region includes protected forests, production forests, conservation forests, and other areas of use (APL). 

The natural forest is estimated to have an area of around 140 thousand hectares, including the Sibual-bual Nature Reserve, Dolok Sipirok Nature Reserve, and Sibolga Protection Forest. The Batangtoru natural forest area is separated by the Batangtoru River and is called the West and East Block.

As Forest and Other Supervisor staf (TPHL) of the North Sumatra Center for Natural Resources Conservation (BBKSDA), Nasir Siregar is in charge of monitoring and observing orangutans behavior. During these 15 years of monitoring orangutans with other researchers, Nasir said that the number of orangutans reached around 600.

According to Nasir there are three orangutan habitats in the area. Around 350-400 orangutans are in the Batangtoru or West Block forests. A total of 150-240 orangutans are located in the East Block or the area of the Nature Reserve (CA) of Dolok Sipirok to Dolok Sarulla (entered the North Tapanuli area). Whereas in the South Block, Dolok Sibual-buali, and Lubuk Raya Nature Reserve, there are 15 to 27 animals. 

The three orangutans habitats have separated by Sumatra highway. Dolok Sipirok forest, Dolok Sarulla, and Batangtoru forest are separated by Sumatra roads (Sipirok-Medan). The Sitandiang forest corridor with Sibual-Buali is separated by the Sipirok-Marancar road.

Only for the Sitandiang forest corridor which is a stretch of Sitandiang-Batang Paya-Batu Satail forest, with the status of another area of use (APL). This corridor could connect West and East Block Batangtoru forest areas.

In the past few years, the Batangtoru West Block and East Block forest areas have begun to be connected with animal crossing bridges that naturally formed from tree canopies. In 2007 there was one canopy, but it was broken because of natural factors. Now, it's connected again.

"The Sitandiang forest corridor is a connecting corridor, the main road for orangutans because there is a lot of feed," Nasir said.

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