As you will no doubt know from Stephen’s posts about a month ago, I recently ventured out of the London office and over to Pangkalan Bun (Borneo) or, more accurately “the field”. This was not my first time there; my employment here (for my part!) is the result of me being completely overwhelmed by the plight of the orangutans when I stumbled upon the Volunteer Programme in 2001. Amongst other things, I now run the Volunteer Programme here at Orangutan Foundation and continue to get enormous pleasure from arranging for people go over to Indonesia for what pretty much always ends up as a life-changing experience. The small size of the UK office means that I have my fingers in many of the Orangutan Foundation pies and so my trip out there was also to see the programmes that I write about day-in-day-out. In short, it was an amazing trip and reminded me that I work primarily to save the orangutans and their home, something that seems to slip the mind in hectic times.
The highlight was most definitely going to Camp Rasak (orangutan release in Lamandau Wildlife Reserve) and knowing that the orangutans I saw in the trees were primarily orangutans that would have been in the Orangutan Care Centre on my last visit in 2001. A close second was Belantikan. It really is a beautiful area and needs to be saved.
It not only has orangutans but is some of the most amazing forest that I have ever seen (and I have seen a lot). Time is key too – in an eight hour journey there we drove through oil palm for six hours and heavily logged areas for one hour.
Oil Palm Plantation
Logging on the journey to Belantikan
It really was quite surreal –little dumper trucks carrying kernels or actual palm oil were the only traffic on the road…..and they seemed to infiltrate EVERY bit of land….
Seeing this destruction on the way really enforced how important our work with Yayorin, our Indonesian partners, in Belantikan is for these forests, its wildlife and the local communties who live here.
Catching up with the Volunteer Programme seven years on was one of the main reasons for me to go to Indonesia. I said I'd try and post about my time on the programme so I'll do this in the next few days!
Development & Volunteer Co-ordinator UK Office