On 2 November 2017 it was announced, in the scientific journal Current Biology, that a team of scientists had discovered that the orangutan population living in the Batang Toru Forests in North Sumatra to be genetically distinct from both Sumatran and Bornean orangutans – and therefore a separate species known as the Tapanuli Orangutan.

According to the findings in the journal, the Tapanuli Orangutan is in fact more closely related to the Bornean Orangutan than it is to the Sumatran Orangutans living further north in the Leuser Ecosystem. Fascinating considering that the Bornean Orangutans live on an entirely separate island to the the Sumatran and Tapanuli Orangutans.

With less than 800 individuals in just 1,100 square kilometers of forest, urgent conservation efforts are underway by the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP) to protect the Tapanuli orangutan – the most endangered great ape species in the world. Gold mining, a proposed hydroelectric power plant, deforestation, and illegal logging all threaten the Batang Toru Forests.

Information provided by Sumatran Orangutan Society (SOS).

The news of this amazing discovery was published all across the world in November 2017.


Image: Matt Senior