Why Orangutan Foundation needs your support, more than ever.

If you are a member or supporter you will already know that our priority is protecting orangutan habitat. If we keep forests standing we can ensure orangutans stay in the wild (see video below of wild male). In the past few months our committed Indonesian staff, working on the front-line of conservation, have successfully:

  • Detected and prevented illegal activities within two protected areas, home to thousands of Bornean orangutans and many other critically endangered or threatened species.

    Orangutan Foundation patrols detected illegal logging in the Reserve’s area. Credit Orangutan Foundation

Regular forest and river patrols to protect orangutan habitat. Credit Orangutan Foundatio

Orangutan Foundation patrols destroy illegal fishing traps in the National Park. Credit Orangutan Foundation

  • Prevented the spread of fires to the Lamandau Wildllife Reserve, home to an estimated 500 Bornean orangutans.

Fighting fires on the boundary of Lamandau Wildlife Reserve © Orangutan Foundation

  • Nurtured tens of thousands of tree saplings and planted in degraded forest areas of Tanjung Puting National Park and the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve.

Orangutan Foundation nurture 1000’s of saplings to replant degraded forest areas. Credit Orangutan Foundation

Orangutan Foundation staff plant out saplings to restore orangutan habitat. Credit Orangutan Foundation

  • Trained our staff and community to prepare for and tackle fires

Orangutan Foundation fire-fighting training. Credit Orangutan foundation

  • Engaged with the Indonesian government and companies to implement best forest management in unprotected orangutan habitat.

We do all this so that wild orangutans, like the one below, stay wild.

Wild male orangutan seen near guard post in Tanjung Puting National Park. Credit Orangutan Foundation

We need your help to continue doing this. If you haven’t already, please consider setting up a regular donation click here to support our vital work. Please also help by sharing this blog post.

Thank you,

From Orangutan Foundation – A future for orangutans, forests and people.

Adult male orangutan shows up at guard post

Some male orangutans start to look very different from females as they reach maturity, from the age of 15 onward. They develop cheek pads and bulk out, some weighing upwards of 120kg, double the average female. In the wild, one cheek-padded male will dominate an area of forest, with other cheek-padded males moving on to an area without another adult male in the vicinity.

©Bain. Adult male orangutans can grow cheek pads, or flanges.

©Bain. Adult male orangutans can grow cheek pads, or flanges, like this.

Staff stationed at one of our guard posts in the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve, Indonesian Borneo, have reported the arrival of an adult male in the immediate vicinity of the post. Adult male orangutans generally do not pose an immediate threat as they possess a natural wariness of humans, however, this male clearly showed no fear and so was thought to be one that had been rehabilitated into the area.

©Orangutan Foundation. An adult male has been spotted around one of our guard posts.

©Orangutan Foundation. An adult male has been spotted around one of our guard posts.

Guard post staff got in touch with staff stationed at the nearby Camp Siswoyo, who identified the male as Ofi, a male often seen in the forest surrounding the camp. Camp staff tried to encourage him to go back into the forest, as he was posing a problem to guard post staff who were unable to move about freely whilst he was close by.

©Orangutan Foundation. Staff are unable to move about freely whilst he is around.

©Orangutan Foundation. Staff are unable to move about freely whilst he is around.

The last time camp staff reported seeing Ofi was back in July this year. Ofi shares the surrounding forest with dominant male Bangkal. Ofi is afraid of Bangkal and will make a swift exit anytime they meet, which is normal behaviour for a submissive male. You can read more about Bangkal here.

©Orangutan Foundation. Bangkal is the dominant male in the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve.

©Orangutan Foundation. Bangkal is the dominant male in the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve.

Since the guard post is only 5km away from camp, it is not far for an orangutan to travel, and staff believe he has moved away from camp as he cannot compete with Bangkal. Male orangutans are not territorial and have overlapping ranges, however, they do compete for resources, such as food, and fertile females.

©Orangutan Foundation. Ofi is likely afraid of Bangkal.

©Orangutan Foundation. Ofi is likely afraid of Bangkal.

Staff will monitor Ofi and if the situation does not improve, he will be tranquillised and moved into a suitable area of forest away from both camp and the guard post.

©Orangutan Foundation. Staff will continue to monitor Ofi.

©Orangutan Foundation. Staff will continue to monitor Ofi.

It costs £200,000 a year to protect the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve, home to Ofi, Bangkal, and hundreds of other orangutans. Please click here to support our work by giving a donation. Thank you.

Q&A with the Programme Manager of the Orangutan Foundation

People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) have been supporting the Orangutan Foundation’s work in Indonesian Borneo for a number of years. We would like to share this Q & A with PTES and our Indonesian Programme Manager, Ade Soeharso, as part of the launch of their new appeal to save orangutan habitat. 

Orangutan expert and Programme Manager at the Orangutan Foundation, Dr Ade Soeharso, answers some questions about the lives of orangutans, the dangers they are facing and ways anyone can save them now.

Dr Ade Soeharso

When did you start working at the Orangutan Foundation?

I’ve been a partner of the Orangutan Foundation since 2006. I was still working for the government then. Between 2008-2014 I worked part-time as a technical advisor of the Orangutan Foundation, and since 2015 I’ve worked full-time for the Orangutan Foundation.

What is the ideal habitat for an orangutan?

The ideal orangutan habitat is a mixture of swamp forest, lowland dry forest, and mountain forest. Ideally the habitat would be undisturbed and have an abundance of trees for food and nesting.

What is a protected forest?

In Indonesia, a protected forest is a one where the underlying area is protected from being logged or converted to other uses by land clearing.

What is palm oil? Why is the production of it so destructive?

Palm oil is a vegetable fat produced from oil-palm fruit. Almost all food products and many other common items use palm oil as a raw material. Therefore, palm oil is produced in large quantities because there is a huge market. Unfortunately, production of palm oil requires very large areas and which is achieved by cutting down large numbers of trees, which we call forest conversion and land clearing.

What have you found the hardest thing about working on the project so far?

The conservation of forests and the animals that depend on them is still often seen as less important than economic and development issues. It is challenging to mobilize the support of the parties in forest conservation efforts.

What is causing conflict between wildlife and the human population?

Due to deforestation, the amount of wildlife habitat left is ever decreasing. This means that the potential conflict between humans and orangutans will only increase. Orangutans and many other animals such as crocodiles, bears, and monkeys are forced out of the degraded forest and end up in community settlements and plantations in search of food. Seen as pests, they are often shot. We make sure that where possible, wild animals are translocated back into safe habitat. This is only possible if there is safe habitat left to move them back to.

What do you enjoy most about working with orangutans?

I enjoy it so much when I could see orangutans who have been rescued and then released growing and thriving in well-preserved habitat, successfully raising families of their own.

Pak Ade out with his team

What time do you have to get up in the morning? Are orangutans early risers?

I get up early at 5:30 am. In the forest, orangutans rise between 5:00-5.30 am and leave their nests to set off in search of food.

How do you manage not to get lost in the forest when you’re following apes?

Basically, when following apes we’re never alone. There are always at least two people. As well as helping record data and times, they are locals who are more familiar with the forests so that we don’t get lost.

How many orangutans have you and your colleagues saved recently?

In 2017, so far we have saved 14 orangutans. Some of them have been released already as they are mature and well enough. The others are in the soft release programme. They are taken out into the forest each day to practice feeding and climbing until they have mastered the basic skills and are ready to be released.

Are you optimistic about the future for orangutans?

I am optimistic that orangutans can still be saved as long as we focus on saving their forests that are an integral part of their lives.

Field staff transporting rescued orangutan

What must happen to ensure their survival?

We have to encourage the creation of sustainable oil-palm plantations and stop forest conversion in orangutan habitat and prevent the occurrence of forest fires. We also have to ensure that law enforcement act so that no more orangutans are traded as pets.

What can our supporters do to help?

As well as donating to this project, if you are buying a product that is made using palm oil, look out for ‘sustainable palm oil’ on the label. Currently, the global area already being used for oil palm production is sufficient to meet our needs without any further loss of forest. It is possible for us to use oil-palm produced from sustainable palm oil plantations and it is something we can all to do.

Please help us to help orangutans today so that they are still here tomorrow.

VIDEO – Orangutan Foundation’s Rescue and Release of a Male Orangutan

We have received this footage from our field staff, of the rescue and release of an adult male orangutan, victim of habitat loss, found stranded in a narrow strip of forest between a village and oil-palm plantation.

Fantastic teamwork by everyone involved meant that this rescue was carried out safely, and the male orangutan was able to be released in the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve just two days later, in an area of protected forest habitat.

Help us to protect this forest reserve and ensure a future for orangutans, forests and people. Click here for more information.

Thank you.

Severely Malnourished Male Orangutan Rescued from Fragment of Forest in Indonesian Borneo

Orangutan Foundation staff examine tranquilised orangutan. ©Orangutan Foundation.

Orangutan Foundation staff examine tranquilised orangutan. ©Orangutan Foundation.

On Monday, 28th August 2017, Orangutan Foundation together with the local wildlife authority, managed to rescue an orangutan, found stranded in a forested area between a village and an oil-palm plantation in Central Kalimantan. The orangutan, an adult male of around 17 years of age, only weighed 80kg – about two thirds its expected weight..

The alarm was raised by one of the villagers, who, seeing the orangutan so close by, was worried the orangutan would destroy his oil-palm plantation, and even enter his own home.

The challenging terrain made it difficult to reach the orangutan. The team had to use a boat to approach the area and then walk about 1km through swamp forest. On arrival, the orangutan was anesthetized to take it to a point of safety.

Team translocate tranquilised orangutan. ©Orangutan Foundation.

Team translocate tranquilised orangutan. ©Orangutan Foundation.

This rescue highlights the problem of habitat loss resulting in more wildlife coming into human contact, leading to human-wildlife conflict.

The orangutan will be examined by the Orangutan Foundation’s vet, and then translocated into the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve, a protected area on 30th August.

To date, 15 orangutans have been rescued in 2017, some being immediately translocated and others, too young for release, will go into the Foundation’s Soft-Release Programme. Please donate to support our rescue and release programme.

The Orangutan’s Plight – A Poem

We would love to share a poem written by one of our young supporters…

The Orangutan’s Plight 

by Valentino Rodrigues, aged 10

Orangutan in a tree

© Orangutan Foundation

From high in the treetops that are my home

I’m lost and afraid 

I feel so alone

 

Our forest was huge once covering miles

It was full of life

And my mothers smiles

 

They are moving in closer the men with the fire

Clearing my home 

With their greed and desire

 

These men killed my mother, it broke my heart

I’m scared as I watch them

Pull my home apart

 

So many of my kind have been killed in this way

We cannot stop them

We have no say

 

Someone please help us, we really need you

Stop destroying us and our forest

For your cheaper food

 

Thank you Valentino for this fantastic poem!

Help us protect the orangutan’s forest. Please donate today to support our work in Indonesian Borneo.

The Plight of Pongo Pygmaeus

We would like to share this post written by Justin Wateridge, Managing Director of Steppes Travel.

On Thursday many young people – perhaps a child, grandchild, niece or nephew of yours – received their A level results, but what does the future hold for them?
Perhaps not one with pongo pygmaeus.

To you and me that is the Bornean orangutan which is now feared to have less than 50,000 individuals and hence last year it was listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the highest risk category. We hear much in the news about elephant ivory, rhino horn and the hunting of lions but little or nothing of the enigmatic man of the forest.

Yet every year orangutan populations are threatened because of their habitat, low-lying tropical rainforest, is being destroyed and converted to oil palm plantations. Orangutans and the majority of biodiversity supported by tropical rainforests cannot co-exist with oil palm plantations. The use of fire to clear land for plantations is an additional risk to an already serious threat.

An encroaching human population is adding to the orangutans’ habitat loss. Last year the Orangutan Foundation rescued many more threatened animals than they have before – only half of these were orangutans, the rest were a diverse range of forest creatures including sun bears, leopard cats and slow loris.

Having just come back from Indonesian Borneo, I met with the inspiring Ashley Leiman on Wednesday to see what more Steppes Travel could do to support the Orangutan Foundation UK the only one of six orangutan agencies in the UK that has permanent projects of the ground.

Given that today is International World Orangutan Day I would urge you to think about what you can do to help, either directly via the Orangutan Foundation’s website or better still by travelling with your family as I did to see orangutans in situ or join our revamped Orangutan Conservation tour.

Yes you can see orangutans in this country but only in a handful of zoos – Blackpool, Chester, Colchester, Durrell and Twycross and we believe there is no substitute for doing so in the wild.

Participants of the Steppes Travel Borneo group tour will be joined by an expert from the Orangutan Foundation, offering exclusive insight into our conservation projects taking place in Central Kalimantan.

Alternatively, you can support our Forest Restoration Programme in Indonesian Borneo by purchasing a copy of our book: “The Orangutan’s World“.  

The Orangutan's World - available for purchase

This wonderful book provides a glimpse into the world of the orangutan through a collection of photographs of the flora and fauna found in Indonesian Borneo.

Orangutan Foundation on alert for forest fires

Orangutan Foundation have been tackling fires only a few kilometres from the boundary of the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve, home to some 500 critically endangered Bornean orangutans and many other threatened species. Our committed team of Indonesian staff are working with the Indonesian Wildlife Department and the local community to extinguish the fires.

Fire close to the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve August 2017 © Orangutan Foundation

The threat of forest fires is returning as the dry season in Central Kalimantan continues and 2017 looks set to be one of the hottest years on record.

We are prepared and are on alert to ensure these fires do not spread. All of our guard posts store fire fighting equipment and we have supported fire fighting training.

Fighting fires on the boundary of Lamandau Wildlife Reserve © Orangutan Foundation

We have witnessed firsthand the devastation caused by fires. During October 2015, fires in Tanjung Puting National Park and the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve burnt through thousands of acres of forests. The clip below, with Indonesian text, highlights the problem.

 

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Forest and land fires can be prevented if all parties support and commit to not burning the forest and land for any purpose.

Support our vital work to ensure a future for orangutans, forests and people.

DONATE NOW

 

A family adventure in Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo

We are delighted to share this post written by Justin Wateridge, Managing Director of Steppes Travel.

A family adventure in Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo

“Can we hold one of the baby orangutans?”

“You can’t hold them. That wouldn’t be right. They need to be released into the wild when they are older and they must not become too habituated to people.” I beamed with pride at the grown-up and correct response from my eight-year old son.

Just hours earlier we had flown into Pangkalan Bun, the southernmost airport of the massive island of Borneo and the access point to Tanjung National Park, home to the man of the forest, the orangutan. Before journeying into Tanjung Puting we were fortunate enough to be visiting Lamandau Wildlife Reserve at the personal invitation of the Orangutan Foundation UK.

Arrival in Pangkalan Bun

Yet at the time, standing at the dock in Pangkalan Bun, I sense the mood of the team was not one of being lucky. The vagaries of flight timings in a remote part of Indonesia and our misconceived western obsession with punctuality meant that we were late and tired. Our mood reflected the grey skies above. The four speedboats bobbing precariously in the water did little to alleviate the temper of the Mums, the drops of rain only further dampened spirits.

However, twenty minutes out of Pangkalan Bun we turned off the brown sludge of the wide and featureless Kumai River and headed up the much smaller and altogether more exciting Arut River. The speedboats raced along the black tannin river which was only several meters wide, hemmed in by a riot of vegetation. Slaloming through the foliage of the forest in the hope that the river did not have a two-way traffic system was adrenalin-charged. Parents likened it to the Bond film ‘Live and let die’ and children to Willie Wonka’s glass elevator; both found it exhilarating.  Read more…

 

Vote for orangutans

We are delighted that today’s blog post is by Julia Cissewski founder of the German charity Orangutans in peril.   Please take a few seconds to vote for Julia and help win €30,000 for orangutans.

On 14 July, I visited the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve, Central Kalimantan. Our German charity Orang-Utans in Not e.V. (Orangutans in peril, www.orang-utans-in-not.org/en/) has been supporting the Orangutan Foundation’s enrichment planting and forest restoration there for several years.

Julia and Pak Ade at Camp Rasak, Lamandau Wildlife Reserve

After a week of intermittent rain, we enjoyed a beautiful sunny morning and first travelled by boat from the town of Pangkalan Bun to Camp Rasak in the Reserve.

Journey by river into the Reserve

There we visited the enrichment planting area. I last went there in 2012 and now was delighted to see the progress that has been made. The little fruit trees will later serve to feed orangutans in the area.

Pak Ade and Julia visiting the areas of forest being replanted.

Afterwards we went by boat to Camp Gemini to watch the feeding of released orangutans. The weather kept and it got rather hot. We thus were glad to reach the cover of the release site. At the feeding station we observed several females with their babies, a moving experience. The babies were born in the wild and show the success of the release programme.

Young orphaned orangutans are cared for and develop the skills for living back in the wild

Feeding site for released orangutans.

On our way back to Pangkalan Bun we saw several Proboscis monkeys, watching us rather unimpressed from the trees on the river bank. We arrived in Pangkalan Bun when the sun was setting. It was a wonderful day and we gave our thanks to Pak Ade, the program manager, and the other Orangutan Foundation staff. They are doing such great work in Lamandau and we are very much looking forward to our future cooperation.

The endemic proboscis monkey on the river edge

I suppose I should mention that I was accompanied by a film crew who were filming for the German magazine “Bild der Frau”. This magazine each year awards prizes to five women running German charities. And in 2017 I am one of them. You can help us gain an additional award of 30,000€ (!) for the orangutans. This award is given to the organization that can raise most votes by October 21, 2017. Every vote counts:
https://www.orang-utans-in-not.org/en/goldene-bild-der-frau
Thank you very much for your support!

Julia