"Broken Paradise" is part of a photo series which questions the destruction of the Leuser Ecosystem in Northern Sumatra, Indonesia.
The Leuser Ecosystem is a place of incredible biodiversity, home to over 500 different species and the last place on Earth where critically endangered Sumatran orangutans, tigers, rhinoceros, and elephants roam freely together. This unique ecosystem also provides vital resources and services for the local people living within and around it.
And while for many of us it seems far away, its forests and peat swamps play an important role in mitigating climate change on a global level. An article in the journal Science by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) called the Leuser Ecosystem one of the “World’s most irreplaceable protected areas.”
Tragically, the Leuser is under immense and immediate threat from palm oil production. Palm oil is an edible and cheaply produced vegetable oil that comes from the African oil palm tree. And since it’s in nearly every household product you can imagine – from baked goods and confectionaries to shampoo, toothpaste, and cleaning products – there’s a good chance you own products that contain it. The problem is that most palm oil isn’t sustainably produced, linking the industry to deforestation, habitat degradation, climate change, animal cruelty, and indigenous rights abuses.
This devastation is happening at an unprecedented rate. But it’s not too late to turn the tide, and organizations like the Orangutan Information Centre (OIC) are leading the charge. To ensure the survival of Sumatran orangutans the OIC is working to restore the forest, operate orangutan rescue missions, train communities and create the "Sumatran Wildlife Sanctuary" a nature sanctuary that will conserve land around the Gunung Leuser ecosystem. The Sanctuary will allow animals to migrate to and from conservation lands more safely.
To learn more about OIC and its sanctuary project, visit http://www.sumatranwildlifesanctuary.org. All donations go directly to protecting orangutans in the wild, where they belong.
Photos in this series are taken in and around the Gunung Leuser National Park, Cinta Raja Restoration site, Tangkahan Paradise, and the Medan Zoo, Indonesia.The project highlights the efforts being done by the Orangutan Information Centre, an organization dedicated to the conservation of Sumatran orangutans.