2020 Photo Contest, Nature, 1st Prize

Saving Orangutans


Alain Schroeder

For National Geographic

29 January, 2019

Fahzren, a 30-year-old male orangutan, undergoes a routine medical check, at the SOCP Quarantine Centre. He has spent most of his life in a zoo and lacks the skills to be returned to the wild.

Indonesia’s orangutans are under severe threat from the ongoing depletion of the rainforest. Sumatran orangutans, which once ranged over the entire island of Sumatra, are now restricted to the north and critically endangered. They are almost exclusively arboreal: females virtually never travel on the ground and adult males do so rarely. As logging, mining, and palm oil cultivation increase, orangutans find themselves squeezed into smaller pockets of forest, forced out of their natural habitat and in more frequent conflict with humans. Organizations such as the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP) care for lost, injured and captive orangutans, aiming to reintroduce them into the wild. Human caregivers take on the maternal role that female orangutans play, aiming to reintroduce young to their natural habitat at around the age of seven or eight, when they would naturally leave their mothers in the wild.

About the photographer

Alain Schroeder

Alain Schroeder is a Belgian photojournalist born in 1955. In 1989 he founded Reporters, a photo agency in Belgium.  Schroeder’s work has been published in National...

Technical information

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Fujifilm X-Pro2

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