A man who is dedicating his life to protecting a critically endangered species in hopes of saving it from becoming extinct visited Salina’s Rolling Hills Zoo this week, and was the featured speaker at the Taste of Adventure event.
Dr. Jamartin Sihite is a long-time conservation activist with a huge passion for orangutans, and is the driving force behind the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation.
Dr. Sihite told KSAL News extinction in the wild is likely in the next 10 years for Sumatran orangutans and soon after for Bornean orangutans. According to his foundation, the Sumatran species and the Bornean species are classified as Critically Endangered according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources Red List of Threatened Species. The orangatans are disappearing at an alarming rate due to deforestation and clearing of the land for pulp paper and palm oil plantations, with the remaining forest degraded by drought and forest fires.
Orangutans are extremely patient and intelligent mammals. They are very observant and inquisitive, and there are many stories of orangutans escaping from zoos after having watched their keepers unlock and lock doors.
Rolling Hills Zoo has two orangutans, Rusa and Mango.
Dr. Sihite said his organization started with just five people. Today there are over 400 people dedicated to the cause.
Dr. Sihite is in the middle of a month-long visit to the United States before returning to his work in Indonesia. He says the trip has been useful in sharing information, collaborating, and forming partnerships.
Established in 1991, the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation is an Indonesian non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of the Bornean orangutan and its habitat, in cooperation with local communities, the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry and international partner organizations. The foundation is currently taking care of almost 650 orangutans with the support of 400 highly devoted staff, as well as experts in primatology, biodiversity, ecology, forest rehabilitation, agroforestry, community empowerment, education, and orangutan healthcare.