The Tapanuli orangutan Pongo tapanuliensis was discovered around 2017 in the Batang Toru Ecosystem, in the province of North Sumatra, the first new Great Ape to be found in a century. Only 800 individuals are believed to exist. This immediately makes the Tapanuli orangutan the most critically endangered Great Ape on earth. While protections have been achieved for nearly 85% of this red apes habitat, two potentially devastating industrial projects, a hydro dam and a gold mine expansion, are proposed in a sensitive area of connectivity inside the unprotected part of the forest.
800 individuals – the last of their kind – live in the forests south of Lake Toba. Part of Batang Toru forest is protected, but other ecologically valuable areas with a particularly high orangutan population are not. The state-owned Chinese hydropower company Sinohydro wants to build a dam for a 510MW power plant in Batang Toru Forest, The dam would destroy the habitat of the Tapanuli orangutan and also isolate the individual orangutan populations from one another.