Des Moines, Iowa February 13, 2008 Great Ape Trust of Iowa has signed its first international Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), a pact with Universitas Nasional in Jakarta, Indonesia, that will broaden opportunities for U.S. students to study rapidly disappearing orangutans in the wild and bolster efforts for their conservation.
Dr. Rob Shumaker, director of orangutan research, signed the document on behalf of Great Ape Trust in January after he and one of his scientific colleagues, Dr. Serge Wich, traveled to the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Wich is one of three co-directors of orangutan research at Ketambe Research Center, the longest-running field study site for orangutans in Sumatra. Ketambe is located entirely in the Gunung Leuser National Park, and is therefore part of the government-protected Sumatran Rainforest World Heritage Site and the Leuser Ecosystem. About 90 percent of 6,700 critically endangered Sumatran orangutans (Pongo abelii) are found in the Leuser Ecosystem.
Based on the principles of mutual respect and a desire to enhance academic cooperation toward increasing research, awareness and, ultimately, the odds for orangutan survival in Sumatra, the MOU will provide a variety of opportunities for students, not only from the United States, but also from around the world.
Great Ape Trust already funds the work of two graduate students from Indonesia who are working at the Ketambe Research Center, one at the 100 percent level, and the other in conjunction with the University of California at Santa Cruz and Utrecht University in the Netherlands, where Wich was formerly affiliated. Other students working alongside their Indonesian peers at Ketambe are from the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Japan, Switzerland and Portugal.
This isnt just one-way, Shumaker said. We are very hopeful this will offer mutual opportunities, for some students from the U.S. to go to Indonesia, and for some students from Indonesia to come to Great Ape
|Contact: Al Setka|
Great Ape Trust of Iowa