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ASIA / PACIFIC
Page 16 n THE ASIAN REPORTER
November 20, 2017
Frizzy-haired, smaller-headed orangutan may be new great ape
GREAT APE. A director general at Indonesia’s
Forestry and Environment Ministry, center, inspects
a screen displaying maps of Batang Toru forest in the
Tapanuli districts of Northern Sumatra, where a popu-
lation of orangutans with frizzier hair and smaller
heads have been located. The researchers say the
population is highly vulnerable and its habitat is facing
further pressure from development. (AP Photo/Tatan
Continued from page one
orangutans further north but that
completely ceased 10,000 to 20,000 years
ago, according to the genetic study.
Aside from genetic evidence and the
physical differences that include frizzier
hair and a smaller head, other unique
characteristics include diet, restriction of
habitat to upland areas, and the male’s
There is no standardized international
system for the recognition of new species,
but to be taken seriously a discovery
requires at least publication in a credible
peer-reviewed scientific journal.
Primatologist Russell Mittermeier,
head of the primate specialist group at the
International Union for the Conservation
of Nature (IUCN), called the finding a
“remarkable discovery” that puts the onus
on the Indonesian government to ensure
the species survives.
Mittermeier, who was not one of the 37
authors of the study, said he was “very
excited” by the research.
Last year, the IUCN classified Bornean
orangutans as critically endangered due to
a precipitous population decline caused by
destruction of their forest habitat for
palm-oil and pulp-wood plantations.
Sumatran orangutans have been classified
as critically endangered since 2008.
Matthew Nowak, one of the study’s
authors, said the Tapanuli orangutans live
in three pockets of forest that are
separated by non-protected areas.
“For the species to be viable into the
future, those three fragments need to be
reconnected via forest corridors,” he said.
recommending that development plans for
the region, including a hydropower plant,
be stopped by the government.
“It is imperative that all remaining
forest be protected and that a local
management body works to ensure the
protection of the Batang Toru ecosystem,”
Wiratno, the director general of
conservation of natural resources and
ecosystems at Indonesia’s Forestry and
Environment Ministry, told a news
conference in Jakarta that most of Batang
Toru forest was designated as protected in
He said its management will be a
priority and is a “great challenge.”
maintaining the survival of this species,”
said Wiratno, who uses one name.
The Batang Toru orangutan population
was found during a field survey by
researcher Erik Meijaard in 1997 and a
research station was established in the
area in 2006.
It was not until 2013, when the adult
male skeleton became available, that
scientists realized how unique the
population was, which sparked the largest
genomic study of wild orangutans ever
carried out to provide further evidence of a
third orangutan species.
Wright reported from Bangkok.
Container ships returning to the Port of Portland
Continued from page 8
Major shipping companies made weekly
visits to Portland before halting service in
2015. The stoppage forced businesses that
used the terminal for international
shipping to send their goods to out-of-state
ports via truck or rail.
The disruption was largely blamed on
productivity problems that stemmed from
a labor dispute between the longshore-
men’s union and ICTSI-Oregon, the
terminal operator at the time. Though
ICTSI is a major global ports operator,
Portland represented its first venture in
the United States, and management
quickly clashed with American labor.
The Port of Portland ended its contract
with ICTSI earlier this year, resolving that
issue. Carriers, however, still must be
convinced to return to the port that’s less
convenient to access than others on the
The governor’s office has chipped in
$250,000 from the state’s strategic reserve
fund. It’ll help pay for bar pilots who
navigate vessels up the Columbia River.
Port of Portland CEO Curtis Robinhold
said it takes two bar pilots and costs
carriers $20,000 more to visit Portland
than other ports.
“This is really walking before you can
run,” Robinhold told OPB. “What we’re
really trying to do is show we can get T-6
The staff at The Asian Reporter wish you
and your family a happy and safe Thanksgiving!
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