Sumatra is the biggest island in Indonesia and is home to three of the nation’s national parks, including Gunung Leuser National Park, Kerinci Seblat National Park, and Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park. Sumatra is the only place on Earth where orangutans, tigers, rhinos, and elephants coexist.In the eastern part of Gunung Leuser National Park, a favorite orangutan seeing area, Bukit Lawang is the major jumping-off point. Bukit Lawang jungle hiking has never been more popular, despite the fact that this little town receives far fewer tourists than other Indonesian tourist sites. Nevertheless, the rainforests of Sumatra have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2004. However, Sumatra’s tropical rainforests have been destroyed by deforestation over the past 35 years, resulting in the listing of numerous species as critically endangered.
Moreover, Sumatran orangutans are listed as “critically endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species because there are only 14,760 left in the world. You must not only have a personal relationship to them, but you must actively contribute to their protection as well, since this is a crisis. For orangutan treks, sustainability and accountability standards are also impacted by huge tourist numbers. For example, the peak season, which lasts from July through September each year, is an excellent illustration. More than a thousand individuals a day are expected to take part in the hikes, and there is no daily limit. If we’re not cautious, this might turn into eco-exploitation rather than eco-tourism.
As the only primate found outside of Africa, the orangutan draws visitors from around the world to witness its uniqueness in being very similar to humans. Seeing orangutans in their native habitat is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many travellers to Southeast Asia. It is beyond a shadow of a doubt that this beautiful animal is a sight to behold, and it is only possible to see it in its natural habitat in particular regions of Malaysia and Indonesia. On the other hand, it is essential to keep in mind that the orangutan is also a species that is on the verge of extinction owing to the destruction of its natural habitat of the rainforest.
Every year, tens of thousands of people visit this little community on the outskirts of Gunung Leuser National Park, attracted by the certainty of coming face-to-face with a Sumatran orangutan. Although the orangutans at Bukit Lawang are now free to live in the wild, a large number of them were once kept in captivity, and as a result, their behavior is vastly distinct from that of orangutans living in their natural habitat. This reality, along with the crowds of tourists who want their very own personal experience up close and personal with the animals, is a prescription for catastrophe. By allowing visitors to feed and touch critically endangered orangutans, many tour operators are putting their clients’ lives in jeopardy as well as the lives of the orangutans themselves.
Let’s take a closer look at what sustainable travel is so that we can be more responsible travelers. Eco-tourism, ethical travel, and green travel are just a few of the terms we might use to describe eco-tourism. Although sustainable travel is clearly defined and more diversified than the other phrases, it’s by far the most popular. If you wish to visit wild orangutans in Indonesia, it is very necessary to work with a reputable guide or organization that adheres carefully to the safe criteria for wildlife ecotourism. Therefore, We must prepare our trips so that we treat orangutans and their environment with respect, especially as these activities grow increasingly popular, by choosing ethical vacations, supporting local communities, and promoting awareness may all go a long way toward saving this endangered species.
For instance, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, these measures have never been more important. Hundreds of tourists might be trekking at any given moment during the peak season. Reckless actions that were common before to the pandemic, such breaking distance regulations or taking photos, are now considerably more of a threat to the orangutan’s survival. The outbreak should serve as a wake-up call to anyone involved in wildlife trekking to reconsider their methods. First, we need to maintain a wider distance. It’s probable that 15–20 meters is more optimal than the standard distance of 10 meters. In addition to preventing the spread of COVID-19 to animals, we should consider restricting the number of daily visitors to ensure the safety of all tourists. Health documentation and guidelines for tourists and guides should also be taken into consideration.
The tremendous threat that the orangutan faces serves as a warning that the outbreak is not just about climate change; it is also about human transformation. It’s time to pay greater attention to the consequences of our activities and how they affect the environment. In the end, it is not just other species who are in danger, but also ourselves. In the sake of enjoyment and entertainment, we must stop destroying our environment. It’s time to get back to seeing nature from afar, without causing problems. All in all, Our species is not the only one on Earth, and it is time for us to face that truth head-on. Almost everything we do has repercussions.