Wildlife Protection Units
The Wildlife Protection Units (WPU) are responsible for patrolling the Bukit Tigapuluh ecosystem and the ‘buffer zone’ surrounding the National Park borders. This is the location of the Bukit Tigapuluh orangutan re-introduction project in the province of Jambi, Sumatra, where over 150 orangutans have now been released, is the only reintroduction site for the Critically Endangered Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii). The main goals of the WPU are:
- Establish, train and maintain ranger units to secure the released Sumatran orangutan population and its habitat in Bukit Tigapuluh (BTP).
- To stop and prevent illegal logging as the major threat to orangutan habitat.
- To actively assist the reintroduction/translocation of orangutans at BTP.
- To collect wildlife data in order to produce baseline data for a buffer zone management plan and a wildlife database as an evaluation tool for ecosystem conditions at BTP.
The WPU have been highly successful in deterring all illegal activities within the National Park, including logging. They are responsible for educating local people about laws against poaching orangutans, gathering information about illegal activities and reporting these to the Forestry Police, and collecting wildlife data as an evaluation tool for ecosystem conditions at BTP. TOP funds all running costs for the WPU at BTP (normally eight units). Valuable equipment has also been purchased including GPS units, digital cameras, cooking stoves and a road car with safety features. Local people are employed as members of the WPU, giving good employment opportunities to the local community, along with increasing the profile of the Sumatran orangutan and its importance in the area. WPU members receive extensive training including first aid, wildlife crime investigation, survey techniques and report writing.