Hazel Southam - Journalist

The best way to rescue a trapped orang-utan? Ask a tree surgeon

Daily Telegraph 15 March 2015: A team of British tree surgeons is being sent to Sumatra to teach climbing techniques to orang-utan conservationists.
The apes on the Indonesian island are an endangered species and many need rescuing after they become trapped in limited forest where surrounding trees have been felled for logging or growing palm oil plantations.
Staff from the Human Orang-utan Conflict Response Unit currently track them on the ground until vets can safely fire anaesthetic darts. The animals – which can weigh up to 28 stone – are caught in giant nets as they fall from the trees.
Helen Buckland, the director of the Sumatran Orang-utan Society, which is backing the project, said: ‘If the rescue team can climb they will be able to rescue orang-utans quicker and more efficiently.
‘That means we can reach more animals. We know of many animals that need rescuing and we can’t get to them all. They are on a waiting list. If we can take more animals from these small, threatened areas of forest and release them into bigger areas they can help the species survive.’
Scientists say that while orang-utans are a protected species, around 1,000 are poached every year for the pet trade or to be eaten.
The five-man British team will spend two weeks in northern Sumatra training rescuers to use ropes to climb safely into the rainforest canopy.

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About Hazel

Hazel Southam is an award-winning journalist who reports on religious affairs, international development and the environment. She has covered four G8 Summits.

She wrote for The Sunday and Daily Telegraph for 10 years. Her work has also appeared in The Guardian, The Independent, The Independent on Sunday, The Daily Mail and The Evening Standard.

Reporting assignments have taken her to places including Bosnia, Zimbabwe, Mongolia, Albania, Nagorno-Karabakh, Senegal and the Arctic Circle.

In the UK, she has also delivered media training to the MOD and leading businesses.

Contact Hazel