#WildlifeWednesday: Tarsiers

The Orangutan Foundation manages a tropical forest research station in Tanjung Puting National Park, Indonesian Borneo.


Pondok Ambung Research Station is used as a base from which our field staff, students and international researchers can learn more about the flora and fauna of Borneo’s forests.These studies are vital when implementing strategies to best conserve rainforest habitat in this area.

We’ve just received an exciting report from our research manager on tarsiers.

SPOTTED: A tarsier in the forest, illuminated by field staff’s headtorches.

 

TARSIER FACTFILE

  • There are 10 known species of tarsier, all of which are found in Southeast Asia.
  • Tarsiers are the only carnivorous primate, primarily feeding on insects, but have been recorded to feed on small birds, bats, frogs, crabs and even snakes!
  • Tarsiers are small primates, averaging around just 13cm in length.
  • They are nocturnal, using their large eyes and ears to hunt for prey at night.
  • Their spines are specially adapted to allow them to turn their heads nearly 180° in each direction, perfect for locating prey.
  • Tarsiers move by leaping; Bornean tarsiers have been recorded to jump distances over 5m!
  • They are sexually dimorphic: males are larger than females.
  • Tarsiers have been known to live for up to 16 years.
  • They are generally found no higher than 2m above the forest floor.
  • They tend to live in small groups of around 3 individuals.
  • Tarsiers mark their territory with scent – using their urine!

A Tarsier is a primate which inhabits a range of different forest types. Their taxonomic classification is as follows:

ORDER:

PRIMATES

SUB ORDER:

HAPLORRHINI

INFRA ORDER:

TARSIIFORMES

FAMILY:

TARSIDAE

GENUS:

TARSIUS

The species our staff studied is known as the Bornean Tarsier (Tarsius bancanus boreanus). Bornean tarsiers are widespread throughout the island of Borneo. Listed by the IUCN as “Vulnerable”, Bornean tarsiers are threatened by the risk of extinction in the wild, as a result of habitat loss.

A population exists within the forests of Tanjung Puting National Park. Our field staff have conducted surveys to track this lesser-known species of primate. Locations where tarsier activity was identified were tracked using GPS. Our staff directly encountered two tarsiers, with 10 other indirect encounters from identifying their scent – left with urine.

All traces of tarsiers were found either near the river or in swamp forest, as this is where tarsiers obtain most of their food. Supporting other research, the two tarsiers spotted were found only in small trees, no higher than 2m from the ground.

As tarsiers are nocturnal, most of the monitoring took place after dark.

Field staff reported heavy rain during tarsier observations, which made it difficult to spot and follow them in the dense vegetation.

A member of our field staff records the type of tree where evidence of tarsier activity was found

It is vital we conserve these types of habitat for tarsiers by preventing human activity in this area of protected forest which leads to habitat loss. Limiting the amount of tourism in this area would also be beneficial so the area can be better managed.

Field staff took many photos of the two tarsiers spotted.

Want to learn more about our research programme? Watch this short clip:

A Future Generation of Environmentalists

April 22nd marks Earth Day 2017. This year the campaign focuses upon the goal of achieving global “Environmental and Climate Literacy” by 2020. The aim is to promote to individuals the importance of protecting the planet.

To celebrate this global environmental movement, Orangutan Foundation field staff organised a series of events to educate students and members of local conservation groups, with their own sub-theme: Forest Fires and Waste Management.

The first of these events was a beach clear-up, close-by to Pangkalan Bun. Schoolchildren, teachers, Yayorin and other environmental bodies travelled to Kubu Beach to work on improving the area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Information boards were installed and 50 mangrove seedlings (Rhyzopora Sp.) were planted to restore areas of damaged mangrove habitat.

Other events organised to celebrate Earth day included two competitions:  creative recycling and poetry, which were held in the town shopping centre, and planting trees in city parks around Pangkalan Bun.

Trees were planted around Pangkalan Bun

On Earth Day itself, a jam-packed day of traditional dance and live music is taking place, with the finals of the creative recycling and poetry contests, and an exhibition of conservation-themed photography.

Poetry contests took place in the town centre

We and our field staff are pleased to have contributed towards this important event. Our field staff have been instrumental in the organisation of these activities.

A great turn out for Earth Day!

 

We are mere caretakers of our planet, therefore it is critical we take proper care of it.

Happy #EarthDay2017!

Running for Orangutans – A Fundraiser’s Story

“Have you ever considered doing something for charity? Wanted to do something worthwhile without knowing quite what? Well I’ve had this nagging away at me for sometime now, but what to do and for which charity?

Well, one such thought I’ve had for a while is to visit Borneo, at least once in my life and do some work with Orangutans. Ideally I’d like to visit regularly and do as much as I can, by way of contributing to a better life for this species. Apes (like many other endangered species), our closest relatives deserve so much better than we afford them. Ideally they should be left alone to enjoy their environment, but the world will no longer permit that. We continue to mistreat them and abuse their habitat for our own, short sighted greed! Perhaps my want to visit and help is nothing more than a pipe dream. And surely hellishly expensive too! Oh well. Maybe not.

Tourists visit Tanjung Puting National Park in Indonesian Borneo in tourists boats known as “klotoks”.

Anyway, last year I made some big changes to my life; quit smoking after 30 years, got a new job, started eating healthily and decided to get fit . I also met a new special someone. We chatted about anything and everything, as you do. Dreams and ambitions got discussed and Borneo and the Orangutans were mentioned. Anyway, a few days later we meet up and she presents me with a gift. I unwrap it and am enchanted to have been given a t-shirt from the Orangutan Foundation. Enough already, I hear you saying. I check out their website a day or two later and it seems they have premises in London!!! Just around the bloody corner from where I used to work. Who felt silly now?

Orangutan Foundation T-shirt modelled by Ian Redmond OBE, Biologist and Conservationist, Orangutan Foundation Trustee. Buy your T-shirt here.

To cut a long story short I read the website front to back and top to bottom (can you do this with a website? If you can, then I did). I read with interest about the great work and learned about the volunteer programme. Wow! Borneo suddenly seemed very achievable. It would have to wait until next year, possibly the following, but it no longer seemed like a pipe dream after all. Could I do anything in the interim…?

A further conversation raised the topic of running a half marathon. Well I could do that I suppose. I COULD DO THAT!!! Why not? Run a half marathon (a full one still seems too far) and raise some money for the Orangutan Foundation. Yes, I want to be out there and do some work directly. But why on earth should I not do anything from this end in the meantime? So a few days after I stuff myself silly at Christmas I email Sophie at the OF London office and tell her I’m entering the Silverstone Half Marathon in March and would like to raise funds for them. March. That’s aeons away. Of course I’ll be ready. I can go from no exercise to 13.1 miles in 12 weeks. Oh dear….

Silverstone Half Marathon, just one of the many annual major running events in the UK

Off to the shops and I get my running kit. Wow! I could have just sent a cheque for the value of that little lot. Much easier. And training begins. Week by week everything goes well. By week 7 I’m up to 10k. I can do this!  Then week 8 – disaster! I’ve been too cocky and overdone it. Shin splints. Nooooo!!! I am unable to run for 3 weeks. I can barely walk. Fast forward and a week to go before the event and I am able do a couple of 4k runs to keep everything moving.

And I arrive at the day. Silverstone. Have I bitten off more than I can chew? A dear friend, Allan calls and tells me I’m an inspiration and he’s proud of me. Now sir, that’s perfect timing and I’ll be eternally grateful for that phone call. There are many in heavyweight fancy dress – are they serious? You better believe they are. Boys and girls in their 70s and 80s are lining up beside me. There’s a guy in a dinosaur outfit, barefoot! Well. It’s now or never.

So off we go. Mile after mile…. after mile…. after mile. This is going to take forever. I look up. I can see one of the mile markers. How far have I got, 4, 5, 6 miles already? TWO! You’re having a laugh mate! TAXI!!! And you guessed it, the guy in the dinosaur outfit had gone passed me (after about 300 yards by memory), I’d also just got overtaken by a guy in his ostrich/jockey garb – a la Bernie Clifton.

Well I got there in the end and managed a decent time. I had great support all the way. Around the track from my mate Dani and my lovely lady too. From other friends who called and text and spurred me on and also from fellow runners and those who came out on the day to cheer on their own loved ones. And there were so many others who supported with their donations. I am so grateful to everyone and can’t wait (but I shall) to do the next one.

So first part of project Borneo ticked off my list. How many more stages to this journey there’ll be I really don’t know, but there will be more and I know I have only just started. The important thing is I have started. One day in the not too distant future I’ll be working away in Borneo and I’ll think of my day at Silverstone and the t-shirt that Alison gave me as a gift and I shall smile and probably have a little laugh to myself. Doing your bit is as much easier than you think!”

A huge thank you to Arif!

Fundraiser Arif Huseyin ran the Silverstone Half-Marathon, March 12th 2017. He not only made fantastic time but also managed to raise a terrific amount – over £1,000.

These funds will be spent on a new klotok (boat) to enable Orangutan Foundation field staff stationed at two of our guard posts to carry out their daily activities. The two guard posts are based in the south of Tanjung Puting National Park, Indonesian Borneo – Sungai Buluh Besar and Sungai Buluh Kecil. These guard posts act as bases from which the local area can be monitored and protected from any illegal activities.

Have you been inspired to take part in a fundraising activity for the Orangutan Foundation? Click here to find out all the different ways you could get involved and support orangutan conservation.

Momong – Sun Bear Rescue

On Thursday, 26 January 2017, Orangutan Foundation field staff responded to a call about a sun bear being kept as a pet in a local town. Upon arrival, field staff met with the owner of the sun bear, which had been named Momong, to carry out the rescue. Momong turned out to be a young female sun bear of around 2 years old. Momong had been kept as a pet for just under a year, but despite being deprived of natural sources of food, the Foundation’s vet determined that she was in reasonably healthy condition.

Field staff rescue Momong from a nearby town.

Momong was taken to Camp JL in the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve, Indonesian Borneo – where after careful monitoring and assessment to check she was ready, she was released. As proven with previous translocations, sun bears can wreak havoc around camp, and Momong was no different! The following week after release Momong kept trying to return to Camp JL, damaging camp facilities in the process.

Field staff entice Momong out of the camp with food.

The decision was made to recapture Momong and to release her 1km away from camp to prevent her returning, and encourage Momong to integrate back into the forest where she belongs.

Field staff are pleased to report the second release has been successful.

Momong was successfully released back into the forest.

Watch footage of Momong’s release:

You can support our Animal Rescue and Release Programme here.

Thank you.

Orangutan Foundation

 

Young orangutans confiscated and are now on the path to being wild again

Last week, Dr Steven (Orangutan Foundation’s vet) went to see two orangutans that BKSDA, the wildlife department, had obtained from a citizen in the town of Sampit, Central Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. How the orangutans came to be pets, we don’t know. However, we do know that the orangutan’s mothers would certainly have been killed in order for their babies to have been taken from them. Orangutans are protected by law in Indonesia. It is illegal to persecute, own or trade orangutans yet prosecutions are rare.

Mona, two year old orangutan being handed over to the Central Kalimantan Wildlife Department, BKSDA.

One of the orangutans is about two years old and she has been named Mona .

Young Bornean orangutan, Mona, being given milk by Orangutan Foundation staff. Photo by Orangutan Foundation

The second orangutan is about three years old and has been named Nyunyu. She had been kept as a pet for two years and when found was chained up around the neck.

Nyunyu, a rescued three year old orangutan now being care for by Orangutan Foundation

Nyunyu does not like human contact but Mona is much easier to approach. Dr Steven said they are both in good condition and are suitable for the Orangutan Foundation’s soft release programme.

Orangutan Foundation vet examining orangutan to check on health and age.

They are now living at Camp Buluh, in the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve.  Here they will learn the skills to survive in the wild such as foraging for food and building nests to sleep in but it will be a few years before they are ready to be fully released.

We need your help – please donate to support our vital work rescuing and helping these orangutans return to a life in the wild.

Thank you,

Orangutan Foundation

 

The Forest – A Message of Thanks

We have just received a wonderful message from our Research Station Manager, Fembry Arianto. The Orangutan Foundation manages Pondok Ambung Tropical Forest Research Station, which lies within one of Southeast Asia’s largest protected areas of tropical peat swamp and heath forest, Tanjung Puting National Park, Indonesian Borneo.

“The Forest…the place where I can rest, think, learn, observe and create my future…thank you to all my colleagues who always give great support and work together so well. 

Today marks 3 years and 21 days of working for the Orangutan Foundation, I’ve given and received so much from this organisation…thank you for everything, the passion runs deep!”

There is a rich diversity of species around the station including orangutans,           proboscis monkeys, gibbons, kingfishers, tarsiers, false gharial crocodiles, black rayed softshell turtles, clouded leopards, bintorungs and sun bears.


Pondok Ambung is available for use by individuals wishing to conduct research within Tanjung Puting National Park.

For more information please get in touch with our UK office info@orangutan.org.uk.

All photos show the grounds and variety of wildlife which can be found around Pondok Ambung Research Station, taken by Orangutan Foundation staff.

An Adventure in the Bornean Rainforest

Long standing supporter, volunteer and 2016 volunteer coordinator, Joanne Cotton, shares her experience of voluntary work in Borneo gained from taking part in the Orangutan Foundation Volunteer Programme.

2016 Volunteers pose for a photograph, coconuts in hand.

“I had trawled the internet for hours reading up about potential volunteer programmes, many of which offered fun and adventure in far off lands but somehow there was something lacking. As soon as I read the information about the Orangutan Foundation programme, I knew that I had found the right adventure for me. It was really important to me that whatever project I joined, it had genuine heart and soul for a worthwhile cause, a real opportunity to help make a much needed difference. The Orangutan Foundation offered this by the bucket load! This was an opportunity to live and work in the rainforest in Indonesian Borneo with a local team doing building work that ultimately was to facilitate the release of orangutans in the area.

Guard post 25 in the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve midway through construction, 2016.

I applied for the programme straight away and was very glad I had done so as places were limited. The Orangutan Foundation arranged for a telephone interview with me, this was just an informal chat but was a great opportunity for them to check that I was suitable for such an experience and also for me to ask all of the many questions I had been thinking about.

2016 volunteers pose for a selfie during an excursion to an orangutan feeding site.

That’s how my adventure started and six months later I found myself at an airport, on the other side of the planet, all by myself. I had never done anything like this before and it felt amazing, I felt so liberated, yet it had only just begun!

 

Volunteers get to grips with basic construction work, 2016.

When I signed up to do this project, this was well outside of my comfort zone but the staff at Orangutan Foundation were extremely helpful and supportive and provided me with lots of useful information so that I could be as prepared as possible for what lay ahead. If you are thinking of joining an Orangutan Foundation programme in the future, I cannot recommend it enough, just do it! It will open your eyes and it is likely that you will never look at our planet and life the same way again.”

The completed guard post, 2016.

Applications for this year’s Volunteer Programme are now OPEN. Email info@orangutan.org.uk to receive an application form. Please join us for an unforgettable experience!

Orangutan, Aan, to remain permanently blind despite expert’s best efforts to restore sight.

Orangutan, Aan, who was blinded after being shot 104 times with an air rifle, underwent surgery a few days ago to remove a cataract, which was probably caused by this trauma. Claudia Hartley, an ophthalmic surgeon, led the British team of experts, including John Lewis, one of the UK’s leading wildlife veterinarians. Post operation, initial signs were promising and the eye looked clear and healthy.

However, it is now thought that the optic nerve must have suffered irreparable damage, when she was shot, which wasn’t detectable before the surgery. The Orangutan Foundation’s vet has been monitoring Aan’s progress and is saddened to report that she isn’t showing signs of any vision.

Aan, will remain permanently blind as the damage to her remaining eye’s optic nerve is irreparable.

Orangutan Foundation is hugely disappointed and we know our members and supporters will be too. The focus is on Aan’s long-term care and welfare as she will never be suitable for release back into the wild. Orangutans can live well into their forties, Aan is thought to be around 14 to 15 years old.

Thank you to every one for their support.

Cautious optimism for blind orangutan Aan

Claudia Hartley, the ophthalmic surgeon, and her team in Borneo have been in touch to say they are cautiously optimistic that the procedure, to remove the cataract from Aan’s eye, has worked. The optic nerve looked fine, which is a great sign.

Aan took a long time to come round from the anaesthetic and her eyes were still closed as it started to get dark. Orangutan Foundation field staff will keep a close eye on Aan overnight and Claudia and her team will return in the morning to assess Aan’s vision.

We are still keeping our fingers crossed that her vision will be good enough for her to be released back into the wild.

Thank you to everyone who has donated to help Aan.  We will keep you updated when we hear more from the field.

Here’s a short video of Aan, before the operation.