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Help save Sumatran orangutans

We’re running our #SOSsumatra campaign for the second year in a row – here’s why

When people work together, wonderful things can happen. Last year, it’s safe to say, you folks outdid yourselves. Everyone who bought one of our 14,600 limited edition Orangutan soaps helped raise a massive £126,014 for the Sumatran Orangutan Society (SOS) and its partner organisation Orangutan Information Centre (OIC). Thanks to you, 50 hectares of a former Indonesian palm oil plantation in Bukit Mas is being restored to its native rainforest.

The challenge continues

So far so good. In fact, just one year on and the SOS and OIC teams have already started the regeneration process, making great efforts to restore the land, creating a forest playground for the Sumatran orangutans once again. But when it comes to looking out for these endangered creatures, there’s always more we can do to improve things.

This part of the world is home to the Leuser Ecosystem, which means hundreds of species of mammals and birds – as well as millions of people – depend on its rainforests for food, water and livelihoods. In fact, it’s the only place on the planet where rhinos, elephants, tigers and orangutans coexist. Sadly, Cinta Raja – near to the newly protected zone in Bukit Mas – has turned into an area of conflict for wildlife and desperately needs our help.

Helen Buckland, director of the Sumatran Orangutan Society (SOS), explains:

“SOS’s strategy in saving Sumatran orangutans is to protect and restore their rainforest home. One of the key ways we do that is by reclaiming land that was once lush, biodiverse forest and returning it to wildlife.”

Cinta Raja, on the border of the Gunung Leuser National Park in North Sumatra province is a wildlife hotspot – within the home ranges of elephants, tigers and rhinos – but it’s also facing conflict. “A baby elephant was killed last year in revenge for damage caused by his herd passing through the plantation,” Helen tells us. “A man was arrested in possession of two tiger skins and an orangutan was rescued from the plantation – all within the last two years.”

This area is unique, as she explains: “There is a six kilometre long stretch of land bordering the National Park, ranging from Tangkahan in the south up to a zone currently being reforested by Orangutan Information Centre, in the North. It is currently a weak spot for the protection of Leuser’s forests and wildlife, giving access to poachers and loggers.”

Securing this key, strategic piece of land would mean SOS could close a vulnerable gap in the forest border. But time is running out. SOS has so far raised over £500,000, but needs to meet its goal of £870,000 by the end of February 2019. Missing out on this target could mean the land remains a plantation and wildlife conflict zone.

The good news?

We can all do something about it. “Every person who makes a donation, signs a petition or signs up to climb a mountain or run a marathon for SOS becomes a part of our worldwide movement,” says Helen.

She continues: “Every social media share helps us communicate about our cause and galvanise support. We need to be able to explain to people all over the world about the urgency of the situation, but also the reasons for hope – the amazing men and women on the frontline, working tirelessly and having a huge positive impact.”

Last year’s #SOSsumatra campaign was such a success, that it will continue again this year. The Lush Orangutan Soap – a palm-free, limited edition patchouli and orange-scented delight – will be available online and in stores worldwide from 30 November until 3 December. Also new for this year is an exclusive SOS Sumatra shampoo bar from #LushLabs, available to buy from 29 November. All proceeds from both products, minus VAT, are going to the Sumatran Orangutan Society, meaning its partner organisation – the Orangutan Information Centre – can purchase the land and successfully reforest it to its former glory. But, when the 14,600 are sold that’s it. When they’re gone, they’re gone – just like the orangutans in the Sumatran rainforest.

Find out more about SOS and its wonderful work here. #SOSsumatra

About the author: Sarah Gane is a freelance writer, editor and content strategist based in the UK

Photo by Gita Defoe

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