2020 Photo Contest, Nature, Stories, Nominee

Saving Orangutans

Photographer

Alain Schroeder

For National Geographic

12 March, 2019

SOCP staff help prepare three-month-old orangutan Brenda for surgery at the SOCP Quarantine Centre, in Sibolangit, North Sumatra, Indonesia. She had been confiscated from a villager who was keeping her as a pet.

Indonesia’s orangutans are under severe threat from the ongoing depletion of the rainforest. Sumatran orangutans, which once ranged over the entire island of Sumatra, are now restricted to the north and critically endangered. They are almost exclusively arboreal: females virtually never travel on the ground and adult males do so rarely. As logging, mining, and palm oil cultivation increase, orangutans find themselves squeezed into smaller pockets of forest, forced out of their natural habitat and in more frequent conflict with humans. Organizations such as the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP) care for lost, injured and captive orangutans, aiming to reintroduce them into the wild. Human caregivers take on the maternal role that female orangutans play, aiming to reintroduce young to their natural habitat at around the age of seven or eight, when they would naturally leave their mothers in the wild.

About the photographer

Alain Schroeder

Alain Schroeder is a Belgian photojournalist born in 1955. In 1989 he founded Reporters, a photo agency in Belgium.  Schroeder’s work has been published in National...

Technical information

Shutter Speed
1/210
Focal length
14mm
F-Stop
3.6
ISO
1600
Camera
Fujifilm X-Pro2

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