Plight of orangutan populations revealed

September 21, 2012

Murdoch University will host a public lecture by world-leading primatologist and conservationist Dr Ian Singleton on Friday, September 28.

In A Future for Orangutans, Dr Singleton will discuss ongoing efforts to develop habitat for the great apes in the face of ongoing deforestation and encroachment by palm oil companies in Indonesia and Malaysia.

This includes involvement with Save Tripa, a campaign which was undertaken because of illegal habitat destruction inside the protected Leuser Ecosystem of the Tripa peat swamps.

As chronicled on SBS’s Dateline, illegal burning of vast swaths of this area has reduced a once-thriving population of between 2000 and 3000 orangutans to only a handful.

Lecture organiser Annaleis Martin of Murdoch’s School of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology said Dr Singleton was a passionate advocate for a species on the brink of extinction.

“Through the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program (SOCP), which he founded in 2001, Dr Singleton has helped rescue hundreds of orangutans from wildlife traffickers and areas destroyed by habitat clearing, many of whom have been deeply traumatised and physically abused,” Ms Martin said.

“He’s also the co-founder Earth 4 Orangutans (E4O) with Jessica McKelson, the Director of Raw Wildlife Encounters, which is aiming to raise funds to purchase a significant area of land within the Sumatran rainforest for orangutan conservation.

“With only 6,600 orangutans left on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra, this work is vitally important.”

E4O hopes to develop habitat for orangutans unable to be re-released into the wild, along with a sanctuary for other endangered species. It also hopes to build an education centre for conservation awareness.

Dr Singleton is the Director of Conservation at the PanEco Foundation, Director of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program and Principle Advisor to Yayasan Ekosistem Lestari (Foundation for a Sustainable Ecosystem) in Indonesia.

His talk takes place at 3.30pm in the Economics, Commerce and Law Lecture Theatre 2 at Murdoch University’s South Street Campus and runs for 90 minutes.

Entry is free, though a gold-coin donation can be given, with all proceeds going to E4O.

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