Indonesia court allows dam in orangutan habitat to proceed

MEDAN, Indonesia (AP) — Environmentalists lost a court challenge yesterday to a Chinese-backed dam in Indonesia that will rip through the habitat of the most critically endangered orangutan species.

The state administrative court in North Sumatra’s capital, Medan, ruled that construction can continue despite critics of the 510-megawatt hydro dam providing evidence that its environmental impact assessment was deeply flawed.

Experts say the dam will flood and in other ways alter the habitat of an orangutan species numbering only about 800 primates and likely make it impossible to take a crucial step toward ensuring the species survives — reconnecting fragmented forests the primates are spread across.

Scientists announced the discovery of a third orangutan species, Pongo tapanuliensis, in November after DNA analysis and field study revealed unique characteristics.