Going to great heights for orangutans!!

I think I wrote before that all Orangutan Foundation guard posts are equipped with solar power and radios. The solar power sets we buy locally are brilliant. The panel is made overseas but the battery, charger, cables and lights are all made ‘in country’. The battery should last three to five years and the lights as long. Setting up the system takes less than two hours and is literally as easy as wiring a plug. Indeed, one set was put up using nothing more than a pocket multi-tool! Solar Panels

Solar power set

Radios have been installed at the Orangutan Care Centre and Quarantine, the Foundation office in Pangkalan Bun, and in all the Tanjung Puting National Park and Lamandau Wildlife Reserve camps and guard posts, making a tight network that helps us to effectively monitor the protected forests and support both the people and, in case a vet needs to be called, the orangutans too. The Field Assistants have daily (and sometime hourly!) contact with the other camps and guard posts. The system is very robust, practical and sustainable.

Late last year, the Foundation refurbished TPNP’s guard post on the Buluh Besar River. The final task was installing the solar power and radio sets. Mr Teguh, the Post supervisor, and I went down there on the Foundation’s new “kelotok” (traditional motorised long-boat); a longer but much more pleasant journey than the one we had in the speedboat during Teguh’s look-see interview (see post: Wet & Wild and that's just getting to the guard posts).


Buluh Besar River - TPNP (note the radio mast in the background!)

The solar power set was installed quickly and easily on the afternoon we arrived. The night there was great too; playing cards with the Assistants, bathing in the river and watching proboscis monkeys on the river bank. The location is unbelievably scenic.

The problem was the next day’s job was nowhere near as much fun. A radio needs an antenna and the antenna needs to be up high. Frequently we put the antenna on top of a tree but, on the Buluh Besar, the National Park had previously installed a radio mast, which is naturally where the antenna had to go. The only question was who was going to climb up. The guys justified their selection of me on the basis of my being the only one without family!

SB radio mast

Things I do for orangutans!!