Bringing the office to our orangutan release camps.

A huge thank you Anna M, Kit C and Wanda H for responding to our recent ask for donations towards the solar power sets and the new feeding system, that we are establishing in Lamandau at our orangutan relesase camps. Both projects are very important and still require your support so please do consider donating. In response to my post about my awful journey to choose a guard post site, Sheryl (thank's Sheryl for your offer of a donation as well) commented “Your day at work is always infinitely more interesting than my day at work”. Do you really think so? I can assure you we deal with just as many mundane, administrative issues as everyone else. The only difference is the physical environment.

A trip Uli, who is our office manager, and I made proves the point.

The Indonesian government has a health insurance scheme onto which we want to enrol all our staff. In order to do that the necessary paperwork has to be completed. Before the paperwork can be completed the staff have to, firstly, receive the papers – we are talking about eight different project sites - and then know what they have to do.

A lot of our field assistants are, putting it in completely western terms, “country folk”. That, of course, is why they are great for us: they know the trees; seasons; animal behaviour and everything else you could possibly want to know about the forest. However, the flip side is paperwork is completely alien to them.



Boths the above photos show Camp Buluh one of our release camps in Lamandau.

So Uli and I set off on a whistle stop tour around four of the five Lamandau release camps, (the idea being for her to explain the form and for me to get a day out of the office!). I am sure it would be a modern “Human Resources Department” worst nightmare. Four people could not remember their own birthdays, with two not even being able to hazard a guess at the year.  A lot of the Dayak’s only have one name. Therefore “Riti” was a typical example of what was written for the section “Mother’s maiden name”. Uli, whose full name is Iria Yuliasih Siregar and who came to us from an office job in Jakarta coped admirably with a situation that was way beyond anything she’d experience previously. And it wasn’t just cultural….

Outside the windows curious orangutans were looking in.


An interested audience!

At Camp Buluh, Omang actually swung onto the boardwalk to get a closer look at why so many people were talking so animatedly at once.


Curious Omang

And if I said there was an orangutan at Camp JL called Hercules my guess is you are not picturing a cuddly infant. You’d be right. Hercules is a strapping sub-adult male in the full flush of the testosterone rush which precedes the development of cheek pads.

If I am ever in a camp at feeding time, I always try to accompany the guys out to see the orangutans. Uli came along too. It was good to see Bobi and Dodon with their youngsters. It was less good to see Hercules barrelling towards us once feeding was over.

At a push Uli might agree with Sheryl in describing the day as “interesting”. The rest of us described it as “Phew!!! That was fun”. Which is amazing as all we were trying to do was fill in some forms.