Caged for 7 years. Young orangutan kept as a pet is finally offered a lifeline.

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It’s never a phone call we wish to receive, but in the same week that our team rescued a pair of wild orangutans from an isolated oil palm plantation, we received news of another orangutan being kept as a pet also in need of rescue. The owner had contacted government officials as they could no longer care for the ape, and therefore Orangutan Foundation staff were called upon to assist.

Arriving at the property where the orangutan was being kept in Central Kalimantan, Borneo, it quickly became apparent that the individual had been kept there a very long time. Our team tentatively approached a wooden crate with litter strewn on the ground surrounding it.

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The orangutan had been named Pegi by her owner. It transpired that Pegi was a female orangutan found as a 1-year-old in 2012 and incredibly had been living in her cramped wooden crate as a pet for the following 7 years on a diet of rice, noodles, fruit and sugary drinks. Certainly not a diet suitable for orangutans.

After obtaining as much information about the young orangutan as possible and informing the owner of the prohibitions around keeping wild animals’ captive, our team freed Pegi from her cage and transported her to a government facility (BKSDA) where her health could be inspected.

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Fortunately under examination Pegi seemed in good health, and as her blood tests received the all-clear, she was ready to be taken to her new home at Camp Buluh in the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve. It’s here that she’ll join another orphaned orangutan, Okto, in our soft-release programme, with the hope of one day being released into the wild.

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The early years of any orangutan’s life are the most important in order to learn how to survive in the wild. With Pegi’s traumatic start to her young life, and perhaps never even climbing a tree before, she will need encouragement to learn these skills in the best possible training ground there is- the forest.

Pegi is given some browse to begin the enrichment process

Pegi is given some browse to begin the enrichment process

Orangutans rescued from oil palm plantation marks International Orangutan Day

While people around the world celebrated the red ape this week, our team have had a busy few days spent rescuing orangutans in need. To go behind the scenes and understand some of the challenges still facing orangutans, our team in the field have put together a timeline of our most recent orangutan rescue:

Orangutans high in the canopy

Orangutans high in the canopy

Mother and infant climb higher into the trees

Mother and infant climb higher into the trees

Friday morning- It was reported to government officers this week that an orangutan had been spotted within a community oil palm plantation in Central Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. Once the location had been determined, our orangutan rescue team were then called upon to assist.

Friday 11:45am - On arrival, a female orangutan was observed with an infant in an isolated copse of trees, entirely surrounded by oil palm plantation. With the dimensions of this tiny patch of fragmented forest being a mere 10x20 metre area, and any suitable nearby forest considered too far away for the pair to travel, a decision was made to rescue them from this remote island of trees for their safety. In practice however, the strong winds and height of the trees made tranquilising the female a very difficult task, and it wasn’t until several hours later that the pair were finally safely brought down from the canopy.

Oil palm plantation completely encompass the pair and their small fragment of forest

Oil palm plantation completely encompass the pair and their small fragment of forest

Friday 6pm - With the light beginning to fade, and the female orangutan under sedation, it was the role of the veterinary team to perform a quick physical examination to check the health of the pair. Under initial inspection, it was observed that they were in relatively good health except the mother had several air rifle pellets embedded in her skin, and therefore required further attention. As the night drew closer, the pair were then carefully transported to a temporary facility for them to rest.

Sunday evening - In honour of Indonesian Independence Day on the Friday, the 16-year-old female orangutan had been called Augustine, and her young, who had been identified as a 2 or 3-year-old male, named Augusta. They had both rested and recuperated from their rescue, and now our team were required to act fast to try and observe the number and severity of Augustine’s gun pellet injuries.

Sunday 9pm - In order to monitor the number and location of the bullets in Augustine’s skin, she was taken along with Augusta to a nearby public hospital so that she could be X-rayed. After being safely anesthetised, she was found to have 7 air rifle pellets lodged in her skin.

Sunday 10:15pm - It was at this point that our veterinary team, alongside government officials, began the minor surgical procedure of removing as many bullets as possible from Augustine. The delicate operation was able to remove 5 of the pellets, with a further 2 too deeply embedded into her tissue to be able to safely extract. Fortunately, Augustine appeared to come out of the hour and 15 minute procedure in good health.

Air rifle pellets removed from Augustine’s skin

Air rifle pellets removed from Augustine’s skin

Monday 2pm - As the previous evening’s medical procedure had run so smoothly, the following day after a final check-up from our team, Augustine and Augusta were given the all clear to be released back into the wild. A safe area within the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve was selected as an ideal relocation site as this region is protected by Orangutan Foundation guard posts, and after a short boat ride, the pair were happily released into the forest. Once their transport cage was opened, our team were able to catch a quick glimpse of the orangutans before climbing into the nearby trees.

Augustine and Augusta are resealed safely into the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve

Augustine and Augusta are resealed safely into the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve

It’s encouraging to know that Augustine and Augusta will now be able to thrive in their new protected habitat. However, witnessing these orangutans initially stranded in the last remaining forest due to habitat loss, shows hows orangutans remain under threat and that the work of the Orangutan Foundation is still needed.

To find out how you can become a Guardian of Lamandau and protect Augustine and Augusta’s new home, please explore our website.

How guard posts play a crucial role in orangutan conservation

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At the Orangutan Foundation, two main areas of orangutan forest habitat where we work are Tanjung Puting National Park and the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve in Indonesian Borneo. Together they cover over half a million acres of forest- almost twice the size of Hong Kong. It’s therefore essential that the Foundation’s guard post teams are skilled and well trained to monitor the forest and waterways within this vast area.

During regular patrols, the team record wildlife sightings like these recent images from Tanjung Puting National Park.

Habitat loss is the largest threat to orangutan populations today; for example, it is predicted that by 2080, between 70-80% of prime orangutan habitat will be lost in Borneo alone if current trends continue. The role of guard posts as a deterrent therefore is vital to ensure intruders do not encroach or enter these parks illegally, damaging or degrading the environment which is essential for orangutans and other wildlife.

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Fire fighting is another important role in the field that make these outpost sites so vital. Each one is prepared with fire fighting equipment, and the Foundation works closely with training and supporting the team to be vigilant in spotting forest fires and then safely extinguishing them with as little damage to the habitat as possible. These fires are a potential threat year on year, in 2015 for example an area the size of Wales was lost to forest fires alone in Indonesia, so to have our team patrolling these sites is of paramount importance to orangutan protection and the surrounding area.

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We are incredibly grateful to have such a skilled and hardworking team here at the Orangutan Foundation, but they still require support. Find out how you can help from as little as £2.

Welcome baby Marsha. Mores gives birth to third offspring.

Mores, a resident of Camp JL in the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve, Indonesian Borneo, had been spotted actively feeding and moving around the surrounding areas on a regular basis in recent months by our field team.

Although she was identified as being pregnant, a due date for her newborn was unknown until our local staff were able to capture the following shots of her with her baby holding on tight:

This is Mores’s third child after giving birth to Marcell and Martin in previous years- a positive indication to the health of Lamandau Wildlife Reserve for breeding orangutan mothers.

To continue the ‘M’ lineage, and as the newborn has been identified as a female, the newborn has been named Marsha. Our team hope to continue to keep an eye on their progress going forward.

Find out how you can help protect their precious habitat by becoming a Guardian of Lamadau!

Intimate images of crocodile mother and her newborn hatchlings caught on camera

Reptiles may not be considered the most maternal of creatures, but newly hatched crocodiles are in fact looked after by their mothers until they are strong enough to fend for themselves- often for as long as two years!

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Our monitoring team located in Tanjung Puting National Park were fortunate enough to witness a mother and her nest using remote camera traps so as not to disturb her natural behaviour.

She was observed guarding the nest, listening to her young’s calls as they hatch, and then gently clearing a path for them to emerge from the undergrowth.

If you listen carefully, you can even hear the hatchlings calling from the nest.

Footage such as this is rarely seen, so to be able to use technology in order to witness this intimate behaviour without disturbing the animals is remarkable.

Once hatched and emerged from the nest, the young can be seen exploring their new home.

Hiding in plain sight: After a closer look, several hatchlings can be seen amongst the vegetation.

Hiding in plain sight: After a closer look, several hatchlings can be seen amongst the vegetation.

To be able see this behaviour is exciting for all of us, but also an indicator of the health of these important waterways. Watch this space for any future observations!

Two rescued orangutans returned to the wild

Two critically endangered orangutans are now back in the wild, where they belong, thanks to the dedicated work of the Orangutan Foundation’s team and the Natural Resources Conservancy Agency of Central Kalimantan (BKSDA).

Both orangutans were wild born but tragically ended up orphaned and rescued by Orangutan Foundation. Shifa was rescued from being kept as a pet in September 2016, when she was only 2-years-old. Panglima, was rescued at the end of March 2019, from community forest, he is thought to be about 5-years-old but showed extremely wild behaviour (read more about his rescue).

Shifa rescued in September 2016

Shifa rescued in September 2016

Habitat loss is forcing wild orangutans into closer contact with humans. We can’t say for sure what happened to the mothers of Shifa and Panglima but it is most likely they were killed, because they were considered as pests. As an infant, Shifa would have been clinging to her mother and so she was taken to become a pet. Panglima, being older and more independent, must have been apart from his mother when she was killed.

Panglima rescue by Orangutan Foundation and Wildlife Department (BKSDA) Central Kalimantan

Panglima rescue by Orangutan Foundation and Wildlife Department (BKSDA) Central Kalimantan

Shifa was taken to the 158,000-acre protected Lamandau Wildlife Reserve, Central Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. She lived at Camp Buluh, one of five post-release monitoring sites in the reserve, which she shared with another orphaned orangutan, Okto. The two young orangutans were great playmates and Okto helped Shifa to adjust to her new life.

Okto (left) and Shifa (right)

Okto (left) and Shifa (right)

Shifa always displayed very wild instincts and, as she got older, these became stronger and more evident. Increasingly she would go off exploring the surrounding forest and was reluctant to return to her enclosure at night.

Shifa in her nest and increasingly reluctant to go back into her enclosure.

Shifa in her nest and increasingly reluctant to go back into her enclosure.

It was decided to release Shifa before she released herself! When an orangutan is fully released back to an independent life, Orangutan Foundation staff follow the individual for up to two weeks to ensure the orangutan is able to survive. Ashley Leiman OBE, Orangutan Foundation Founder and Director/Trustee, was present for the two releases and was encouraged to see how readily both orangutans clambered up into the trees to begin their new life.

As soon as the transport cage door opened, Shifa shot straight out and climbed up the nearest tree

As soon as the transport cage door opened, Shifa shot straight out and climbed up the nearest tree

Shifa and Panglima have had to overcome massive hurdles early on in their life. Our challenge now is to ensure the rest of their life is spent in the wild. We are doing this by safeguarding their globally important forest habitat in Lamandau Wildlife Reserve. Orangutan Foundation actively monitor the reserve with a network of guard posts and regular patrolling to prevent illegal activities from destroying the forests and harming wildlife.

Why play is important for young orangutans

The orphaned orangutans in our soft-release programme in Lamandau Wildlife Reserve, Central Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo, are taken out to play in the forest every day. Play-time is crucial for the young orangutans as it allows them to watch and learn from each other. Together, they find food and build nests. Play helps to build up their strength and climbing skills. This video, taken recently, show’s Mona “at home” in the forest. Just watch how she uses her hand-like feet and every-which-way hips to move with such ease and confidence.

The next video clip shows Nyunyu eating bark with Mona (above right) watching and joining in.

Partnerships for Protection

Most people’s idea of orangutan conservation would evoke a picture of a life in the wild, tracking these charismatic apes through the forest, rescuing and releasing them into a sunlit canopy. While this is one element, the reality of our work is a much bigger picture.

Release of orangutan back into the wild

Release of orangutan back into the wild

Orangutan conservation must address the complex issues affecting the wider landscape and habitat, and this involves an in-depth understanding of land management and negotiation with government, communities, and private sector stakeholders. It sometimes feels far from the animals in the forest, but it’s fundamental to their future survival.

This week, Orangutan Foundation and the Central Kalimantan Wildlife Department (BKSDA) held a workshop on Management of Wildlife in Protected Forest and Production Forest Areas and a Forum on Orangutans and Oil-Palm Plantations.  There were more than 30 participants from parties including the Directorate of Biodiversity Conservation (KKH), Ditjend KSDAE-Ministry of LHK, Central Kalimantan Orangutan Forum (Forkah), Central Kalimantan Forest Service, Orangutan Foundation (OF-UK Indonesia), Korindo Group, Wilmar Group, and Central Kalimantan BKSDA.

Workshop participants including Directorate of Biodiversity Conservation (KKH), Ditjend KSDAE-Ministry of LHK, Central Kalimantan Orangutan Forum (Forkah), Central Kalimantan Forest Service, Orangutan Foundation (OF-UK Indonesia), Korindo Group, Wilmar Group, and Central Kalimantan BKSDA.

Workshop participants including Directorate of Biodiversity Conservation (KKH), Ditjend KSDAE-Ministry of LHK, Central Kalimantan Orangutan Forum (Forkah), Central Kalimantan Forest Service, Orangutan Foundation (OF-UK Indonesia), Korindo Group, Wilmar Group, and Central Kalimantan BKSDA.

Forum on Orangutan and Oil-Palm Plantations

Forum on Orangutan and Oil-Palm Plantations

The big issue for the Bornean Orangutan species is that 80% of the population are extremely vulnerable, as they live in forest habitats with no active protection (i.e. not inside a national park or wildlife reserve).

Active habitat protection: Orangutan Foundation guard post monitoring the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve, Central Kalimantan Indonesian Borneo

Active habitat protection: Orangutan Foundation guard post monitoring the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve, Central Kalimantan Indonesian Borneo

These forests, which have been shrinking dramatically over the last few decades, and the animals that live there, are at risk as most of them are in active ‘concessions’ – areas where access to the land has been granted for some form of industrial use. There are many different legal designations, including natural timber concessions, industrial timber plantations and areas of forest still remaining inside oil-palm concessions, as well as forests on community lands. There are also areas of ‘Hutan Lindung’, Protection Forest, a special designation where the forest provides a wider ecosystem service to protect soils and water catchment. Proper management of these forests is crucial to mitigate conflicts between humans and wildlife and to reduce the number of isolated orangutans that end up needing to be rescued.

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At the end of the two days, all of the participants agreed to sign a joint commitment to implementing Best Management Practices focused on the protection of orangutans and wildlife in Production Forests and Protection Forests, as well as in oil-palm plantations. This is a vital step forward in securing the survival of the Bornean orangutan; and for this we are very grateful for the continued support from all our members and donors and in particular, to the Arcus Foundation.  The next step is to ensure these commitments made on paper translate to commitments on the ground.

Wild Bornean female and infant orangutan. By Ian Wood

Wild Bornean female and infant orangutan. By Ian Wood

Researching fauna and flora in orangutan habitat, Indonesian Borneo

The tropical forests of Borneo and Sumatra provide far more than just a home for orangutans, they are one of the most biodiverse ecosystems on Earth. Our tropical forest research station, Pondok Ambung, is situated on the banks of the Sekonyer River in Tanjung Puting National Park, Central Kalimantan , Indonesian Borneo.

Camera trap snaps a wild adult male orangutan.

Camera trap snaps a wild adult male orangutan.

Orangutan Foundation researchers monitor and track the health of this ecosystem and the species found here. Our drive to promote tropical forest ecology and conservation to Indonesian students, winning their hearts and support, is crucial to the future of the orangutan and Indonesia’s forests.

This blog post provides a snapshot of some of the species studied and the activities undertaken at Pondok Ambung this year. As you will see, many take place after dark.

Students from school SMAN 1 Pangkalan Bun on a forest night walk looking for signs of wildlife.

Students from school SMAN 1 Pangkalan Bun on a forest night walk looking for signs of wildlife.

Bornean Tarsier ( Tarsius bancanus boreanus ). A nocturnal primate found at Pondok Ambung Research Station, Tanjung Puting National Park, Indonesian Borneo. March 2019. Researchers also detect their presence by the scent of their urine.

Bornean Tarsier (Tarsius bancanus boreanus). A nocturnal primate found at Pondok Ambung Research Station, Tanjung Puting National Park, Indonesian Borneo. March 2019. Researchers also detect their presence by the scent of their urine.

Orangutan Foundation researchers fitting camera traps, which require constant maintenance in the humid conditions and with the odd interference from wildlife too!

Orangutan Foundation researchers fitting camera traps, which require constant maintenance in the humid conditions and with the odd interference from wildlife too!

Introducing high school students to camera traps.

Introducing high school students to camera traps.

Pig-tailed macaque ( Macaca nemestrina ) known locally as monyet beruk

Pig-tailed macaque (Macaca nemestrina) known locally as monyet beruk

False gharial crocodile ( Tomistoma  schlegelii) can reach more than 5m in length.

False gharial crocodile (Tomistoma schlegelii) can reach more than 5m in length.

Two excited crocodile researchers! Orangutan Foundation support their studies with a research grant.

Two excited crocodile researchers! Orangutan Foundation support their studies with a research grant.

Individual crocodiles are tagged and monitored.

Individual crocodiles are tagged and monitored.

Local high school students using traditional and new ways to identify species.

Local high school students using traditional and new ways to identify species.

Phenology studies. In March, observations along a transect found 25 species of tree flowering and fruiting, many orangutan food trees such as papung and ubar.

Phenology studies. In March, observations along a transect found 25 species of tree flowering and fruiting, many orangutan food trees such as papung and ubar.

Squirrel - feeds on fruit and nuts and can help to spread seeds when accidentally dropping them whilst gathering and carrying.

Squirrel - feeds on fruit and nuts and can help to spread seeds when accidentally dropping them whilst gathering and carrying.

Rescued orangutan soon ready for release back to the wild

When Panglima was first rescued he wouldn’t use the tyre swing or browse in his enclosure - the team looking after him felt sure he would but it would take time for him to adapt to his new surroundings. They were right!

Panglima, a rescued wild Bornean orangutan is very wary of humans.

Panglima, a rescued wild Bornean orangutan is very wary of humans.

These images show Panglima using the swing and he gathers up browse (the branches and leaves he is given) and makes a nest.

Panglima using his tyre swing and browse

Panglima using his tyre swing and browse

He eats plenty of fresh fruit and is active and healthy. He is still wary of humans and moves away when someone approaches the enclosure, but this is behaviour we want him to retain.

Panglima is a wild orangutan and though he is quite young he will be released back into the wild in June. He’ll be followed by our post-release monitoring staff. If he needs it he will have access to supplementary fruit.  Watch this space for an update on his return to the wild.

Though still young Panglima is very wild and he will be better off living in the forest.

Though still young Panglima is very wild and he will be better off living in the forest.

Update on rescued 5-year-old wild orangutan

Yesterday our vet, Dr Dimas, and our reintroduction manager, Mr Azhari, visited Panglima, the five-year-old wild orangutan, who we rescued last week. Panglima is temporarily being kept in isolation at Camp Siswoyo, in Lamandau Wildlife Reserve.

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The staff at Camp Siswoyo provide leaves and branches every day as an enrichment. He doesn’t use the tyre swing but we’re sure he will as he adapts to his new surroundings. Panglima rests on the enclosure floor but as soon as anyone approaches he climbs to the top of the enclosure. He is wild and it is good that he is wary of humans, which is something we want to maintain. He is eating well and this is also a positive sign.

Young orangutan rescued

Yesterday, we rescued a young orangutan, aged approximately 5-years-old. Sadly, the mother was absent, we don’t know what happened to her but most likely she has died, mother orangutans would not readily abandon their offspring.

Tranquillised orangutan, named Panglima

Tranquillised orangutan, named Panglima

The Wildlife Rescue Unit (WRU) team was made up of the Central Kalimantan Wildlife Department (BKSDA) and Orangutan Foundation. The Wildlife Department had received reports about an orangutan seen in a community orchard. The rescue team drove 45 minutes from the town of Pangkalan Bun to the reported location in the Pangkalan Lima area, South Arut District.

Orangutan nest high up in the tree

Orangutan nest high up in the tree

When the team arrived they saw two nests in one tree, but there was no sign of an orangutan. After a while the team decided to return to Pangkalan Bun. In the afternoon, the team received another report about the orangutan and so they returned. This time they saw a young orangutan very high up in the trees. The team decided to follow the orangutan until it nested in hope they could get a clear shot with the dart gun. Unfortunately they couldn’t and because it was getting dark and unsafe they decided to return very early the next morning, when hopefully the orangutan would still be in his nest.

Preparing the dart gun to tranquillise the young orangutan

Preparing the dart gun to tranquillise the young orangutan

Climbing up the tree to rescue the sedated wild orangutan.

Climbing up the tree to rescue the sedated wild orangutan.

The next morning, in the torrential rain, the rescue team arrived at the nest location at 4.30am. The orangutan was found above a nest, not far from where they had left him. The dart gun was prepared so that the orangutan could be tranquillised. They managed to get a clear shot and the orangutan fell into its nest. One of the rescue team climbed a 10-meter tall tree and managed to carry the orangutan down.

The Orangutan Foundation vet immediately conducted an examination and the orangutan was male, weighing approximately 15kg and was estimated at around 5-years-old. Our vet, Dr. Dimas Yufrizar, took blood samples for laboratory tests and gave injections of multivitamins and antibiotics.

The orangutan has been named Panglima (relating to the rescue location) - giving orangutans names helps the field staff with post-release monitoring and communications.

Tranquillised orangutan being examined by Orangutan Foundation vet

Tranquillised orangutan being examined by Orangutan Foundation vet

Panglima was transported to the Pangkalan Bun BKSDA SKW II office where he is being kept temporarily in a holding cage. Hendra Gunawan, Orangutan Foundation Program Manager said BKSDA have requested that the orangutan be translocated to the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve, a protected area. Before release, Hendra said Panglima will be isolated until his blood tests return and then habituated for three months. His condition will be monitored by the Orangutan Foundation vet and field staff.

The rescue team are confident that Panglima’s release into the reserve will be successful and that he will go on to live a wild and safe life in the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve.

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Top 10 images of orangutans for International Day of Happiness

For #InternationalDayofHappiness we have selected our top 10 images of orangutans that are sure to put a smile on your face. Which is your favourite one,? Flick through the gallery below and let us know.

Conservation of wild orangutans living outside protected areas

A very successful two day workshop was organised by our partners Yayorin (Indonesian NGO) and Orangutan Foundation to address the conservation issues facing 78% of wild orangutans, who live outside of protected areas. The focus was training in SMART technology to monitor and survey orangutan populations and prevent crimes against orangutans, wildlife and forests.

Certificate awarded for participating in SMART training

Certificate awarded for participating in SMART training

The workshop was well attended and all participating received practical training.

The workshop was well attended and all participating received practical training.

Workshop attendees included Yayorin, Orangutan Foundation, SKW II Balai KSDA Kalimantan Tengah, Tanjung Puting National Park Office, Sukamara-Lamandau Regional Forest Service Office (KPHP) , Seruyan Regional Forestry Service Office (KPHP), Nangamatu Village - Belantikan Raya and Pangkalan Bun Antakusuma University.

Workshop attendees included Yayorin, Orangutan Foundation, SKW II Balai KSDA Kalimantan Tengah, Tanjung Puting National Park Office, Sukamara-Lamandau Regional Forest Service Office (KPHP) , Seruyan Regional Forestry Service Office (KPHP), Nangamatu Village - Belantikan Raya and Pangkalan Bun Antakusuma University.

Thank you to Arcus Great Apes and Gibbon Program for funding this important initiative.

Orangutan Foundation vet's surprise river encounter

Orangutan Foundation’s vet, Dr Dimas Yuzrifar and our Reintroduction Manager, Pak Azhari, visit the post-release orangutan monitoring camps, in the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve , Indonesian Borneo, on a weekly basis to check up on the orangutans, who live there. Last week, they had an unexpected encounter…

Play time! Okto and Shifa at Camp Buluh January 2019

Play time! Okto and Shifa at Camp Buluh January 2019

Their first stop was Camp Buluh, where orphaned orangutans Okto and Shifa were out playing in the trees. Camp Buluh staff said that they were both healthy and active and because they had been given their multi-vitamin and anti-worming injections the week before, they were left to carry on playing.

Okto having his regular boost of essential minerals and vitamins.

Okto having his regular boost of essential minerals and vitamins.

Second stop, Camp JL - young orphaned orangutans 5 year old Nyunyu (left) and 3.5 year old Mona (right) playing in the trees.

Second stop, Camp JL - young orphaned orangutans 5 year old Nyunyu (left) and 3.5 year old Mona (right) playing in the trees.

The next stop was Camp JL to check on Adib and see how his arm was healing and to see Mona, Nyunyu, Timtom and Boy.

Camp JL- 3.5 year-old female orangutan Timtom, January 2019.

Camp JL- 3.5 year-old female orangutan Timtom, January 2019.

The only access to the release camps is by river and so Dr Dimas and Pak Azhari headed off to their final camp of the day, Camp Gemini . Half way through their journey they came across a longboat with an unexpected passenger!

Female orangutan, Sheila in Camp Gemini’s longboat.

Female orangutan, Sheila in Camp Gemini’s longboat.

Adult female orangutan Sheila and her infant Sony, had untied and taken the longboat, belonging to Camp Gemini, and were using it to cross the river. Sheila was in no hurry to leave the boat but eventually they climbed out onto the river bank and up into a tree. Azhari and Dimas managed to tow the longboat back to Camp Gemini, where the relieved team of Camp Gemini staff were waiting. They’re devising another way to prevent these highly intelligent great apes from taking a boat again!

Indonesian students' message loud and clear on Primate Day

The streets of Pangkalan Bun, Central Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo were filled with concerned students on Sunday 27th January. Young people, from 11 schools, gathered to raise awareness about Indonesia’s threatened primates. This year’s message was ‘Stop hunting primates’. Orangutan Foundation were proud to support and participate on the day, which included a march and talk. We gave out stickers, calendars and seedlings for planting.

11 different schools from Pangkalan Bun joined in

11 different schools from Pangkalan Bun joined in

It was car-free so young and old came by bike…

It was car-free so young and old came by bike…

The day was also “car-free” and so many people came by bike or walked into town to join the event.

Seedling were distributed to encourage care for nature

Seedling were distributed to encourage care for nature

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Stickers were given out

Stickers were given out

and calendars - with a message to stop wildlife being injured or killed.

and calendars - with a message to stop wildlife being injured or killed.

the message was loud and clear - Indonesia’s primate species need protection!

the message was loud and clear - Indonesia’s primate species need protection!

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Talks at the end about preventing conflicts between people and wildlife.

Talks at the end about preventing conflicts between people and wildlife.

It was fabulous to see so many young people involved and caring so passionately about their environment and the wildlife that need protecting and conserving. Please donate today to support our work - a future for orangutans, forests and people.

Caught on camera, but who did it? Orangutan, bear, deer or pig?

Camera traps are a window into the fascinating and private lives of wildlife. Maintaining and keeping the cameras working in the hot humid and damp conditions of a rainforest is an ongoing challenge. Battling the elements is something our researchers are prepared for but they were shocked to find that one of the camera traps had been severely damaged, torn apart and discarded broken, 2 meters away from its original position. Who had done this?

Damaged camera trap

Damaged camera trap

What the culprit hadn’t realised was that the data before the incident was undamaged and so our researchers could look back and see who had been out and about! Their suspects were orangutan, sunbear, deer and wild pigs.

Orangutan

Orangutan

Sun bear

Sun bear

Was it a deer?

Was it a deer?

Wild pig

Wild pig

On closer examination there were bite marks on the camera and it had been pulled off the tree. A sun bear could pull it off but there weren’t any claw marks and these would be evident. We suspect it must have been an orangutan. They are a highly intelligent and curious species and this is why it probably wanted to inspect the unusual device it found in its forest home. This is alone is a reason we need to continue to find out about them and work to conserve them.

News from the orangutan monitoring release camps, Lamandau Wildlife Reserve

Orangutan Foundation vet, Dr Dimas, has kept a close eye on the healing of Abid’s broken arm.  Two-year-old orangutan Adib fractured his arm on 16th December after he fell from a tree.

Two-year-old orangutan Adib’s arm is healing well and he now has a strong grasp.

Two-year-old orangutan Adib’s arm is healing well and he now has a strong grasp.

We are delighted to report that Adib can now grasp the wood in his enclosure and he’s started to play and swing around inside. He shows no sign of pain when his hand is held, and he has a strong grip on the camp staff when they pick him up.  Due to his young age his bones will heal quickly and we are sure he’ll make a full recovery and be back in the trees at Camp JL in a week or two.

Okto enjoying the high-water levels at Camp Buluh!

Okto enjoying the high-water levels at Camp Buluh!

There is no forgetting it is the rainy season in Borneo! Okto and Shifa are certainly taking full advantage of the high-water levels at Camp Buluh.

Orangutan Shifa joining in too.

Orangutan Shifa joining in too.

Shifa is progressing very well and the Camp staff are finding it increasingly difficult to return her in the evenings from the forest back to her enclosure. This is a very positive sign and we are hopeful that we will soon release Shifa from soft-release to an independent life into the wild. Watch this space…

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With plenty of fruit in the forest, not many of the post-release orangutans come for supplementary fruit. However, Bangkal, the dominant male orangutan at post-release monitoring Camp Gemini has been seen in the forest. Read more about Bangkal’s extraordinary survival story by clicking here. 

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Improving livelihoods of communities living in and close to orangutan habitat

We are working with villages on the border of the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve (Indonesian Borneo) to improve livelihoods and local forest sustainability. In this area, fire is used to cleared land and to hunt wild pig and deer. Forests have been cleared to mine for minerals or to grow oil palm. We see the damage this does to forests, the vanishing habitat of orangutans and other critically endangered species.

Measuring out and survey of agroforestry demonstration plot (oil-palm plantation in the background).

Measuring out and survey of agroforestry demonstration plot (oil-palm plantation in the background).

As demand for land increases it is imperative to adopt sustainable livelihoods that don’t require forests to be cleared. Agroforestry has been practised traditionally in Indonesia for many centuries and it can improve farmer’s livelihoods and improve land, which is already degraded. It is a farming system that combines planting trees with agricultural crops to increase profits, both economically and environmentally.

Discussions with land owners and Sukamara KPHP about planting sengon plants in community-owned gardens

Discussions with land owners and Sukamara KPHP about planting sengon plants in community-owned gardens

The villages we work with have voluntarily offered one hectare (roughly the size of a football pitch) of their land to be used as a demonstration plot and Orangutan Foundation are assisting with the preparation and planting of seedlings and will help to monitor their progress.

Farmers nurturing sengon seedlings for planting out.

Farmers nurturing sengon seedlings for planting out.

Two of the species being grown are rubber trees (Hevea brasiliensis) used for harvesting latex and sengon or albazia (Falcataria moluccana) which is used for local timber products (firewood, matchsticks, construction materials). They are fast growing species and so can be harvested in a relatively short time and they are adaptable to varying climate conditions.

Transporting compost to plant out seedlings

Transporting compost to plant out seedlings

Planting out of sengon seedlings

Planting out of sengon seedlings

Planting rubber in the demonstraion plot

Planting rubber in the demonstraion plot

Young orangutan Adib falls and breaks his arm.

Young orphaned orangutan Adib fell and broke his arm

Young orphaned orangutan Adib fell and broke his arm

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Poor little Adib has broken his arm. 

As usual, he was playing in the trees at Camp JL but, whilst swinging from one tree to another, he missed and fell to the ground.

Camp staff suspected he had broken his arm as he wouldn’t use it. 

Our vet decided to x-ray Adib’s arm, which revealed a small fracture on his right ulna.

We are not worried about this impacting Adib’s future in the wild. At his young age, bones regenerate rapidly.

Adib’s arm has been fixed to ensure it heals correctly and he has been given anti-inflammatory to reduce swelling and multivitamins and calcium supplements to aid the healing process. 

For the next few weeks Adib will have to stay in a smaller enclosure, which will help him to rest his arm.

Meanwhile, he’s being given some tender loving care and special treats such as banana porridge!

We are sure it will not be long before Adib is back in the trees playing once again with the other orangutans in our soft-release programme, in the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve, Indonesian Borneo.

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