JAKARTA, Indonesia – Scientists are calling for cancellation of a Chinese-backed hydroelectric dam in Indonesia that threatens the habitat of a newly discovered orangutan species numbering only 800 animals.
In the journal Current Biology, the experts say the 510-megawatt dam in Sumatra will flood or otherwise alter part of the habitat and likely make it impossible to take a crucial step toward ensuring the species survives — reconnecting fragmented forests the primates are spread across.
China's state-owned Sinohydro is building the dam, which is reportedly financed by Chinese loans. Critics of the project say it's part of China's "Belt & Road" plans to link infrastructure across Asia.
Scientists announced the discovery of the third orangutan species, Pongo tapanuliensis, in November. They said without special protection it's in danger of rapid extinction.