A shoestring expedition to one of the remotest places in Sumatra has returned with stunning photos of tigers, tapirs, clouded leopards among other rare species, large and small. Will they find orangutans next?
Last year a motley crew of conservationists, adventurers and locals trekked into one of the last unexplored regions of Sumatra. They did so with a mission: check camera traps and see what they could find. The team – organized by the small NGO, Habitat ID – came back with biological gold: photos of Sumatran tigers, Malayan tapirs, and sun bears. They also got the first record of the Sunda clouded leopard in the area and found a specimen of a little-known legless reptile called Wegner’s glass lizard. But most tantalizingly of all is what they didn’t find, but still suspect is there: a hidden population of orangutans that would belong to the newly described species, Tapanuli orangutan (Pongo tapanuliensis).
“The trek into the interior was fraught with hordes of leaches, wasps, cliffs, river-crossings, and trackless jungle, and it pushed everyone on the team to their limits,” Greg McCann, the head of Habitat ID and a team member, said, clearly relishing the adventure to an undisclosed area they call Hadabaun Hills.