Orangutan Foundation: 2016 in pictures and numbers. A huge thank you for your support.

6,000 wild Bornean orangutans live in the Belantikan region. The largest population outside of a protected area. Orangutan Foundation actively engages key stakeholders to conserve this critical tropical forest ecosystem.

The Belantikan Forest.

33 wild orangutans rescued. One particularly poignant rescue was Narti, who was found completely stranded, clinging to the burnt remnants of a tree surrounded by oil palms.

Narti was found completely stranded.

36 rescues of other wildlife species. All released into the safety of the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve.

A Brahminy Kite rescued by the Foundation.


A sunbear pictured shortly after release.


A slow loris rescued by Foundation staff.


16,000 Ubar tree seedlings nurtured and planted to restore areas of the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve damaged by forest fires in 2015.

A nursery worker tending to seedlings.

One new patron. Patrick Aryee and Offspring Films visited our work in Borneo to film for “Monkeys: An Amazing Animal Family”, a three-part series which first aired on Sky 1, on Christmas day. Star of the show, was Okto who was charmed by Patrick’s presenting skills!

Okto, our adoption star!


Foundation Director Ashley Leiman with Orangutan Foundation Patron Patrick Aryee.

Eight volunteers and one new guard post. In July, the construction of Guard Post 25 began. Now up and running, this guard post is critical for the protection of the new 8,000 hectare extension of the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve.

2016 Volunteers.

The newly completed guard post 25.

Our 25th anniversary year saw the opening of Tanjung Harapan’s Information Centre, in Tanjung Tanjung Puting National Park. Renovated by our 2015 volunteers and designed by the Cube in Residence Programme.

Cutting the ribbon to mark the opening of the Information Centre.


Orangutan Foundation Director Ashley Leiman with the administrative head of Tanjung Puting National Park.


Visitors taking in the exhibits in the Information Centre

104 air rifle pellets were found in lodged in orangutan Aan, 32 of which in her head left her blind, in 2012. In October 2016, ophthalmic surgeon, Claudia Hartley, visited Aan to assess the permanence of her blindness. 

Aan, found blinded by air rifle pellets.

What a wonderful start to 2017 to have the chance to restore Aan's sight. Claudia Hartley will be returning the to field with her team and specialist equipment in February to remove a cataract, currently affecting Aan's vision in her one remaining eye.
DONATE NOW to help us to raise £2000 to fund this vital operation to give Aan a second chance in the wild.

Reforestation in the Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve

June Rubis, our Programmes Manager, has sent an update on our reforestation programme in the Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve, Central Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. The internet connection from Pangkalan Bun, the town where our Indonesian office is based, is very slow and unreliable at the moment, so sending photos is proving a real challenge – all our staff in Indonesia deserve medals for their patience! Just quickly though we'd like to thank those who have recently left comments, especially Linda who mentioned our orangutan adoption programme. If you're interested in supporting our work in this way then please contact our partners, Care for the Wild International - adoptions make a wonderful gift!

Thanks also to Charmaine for giving our Volunteer Programme a plug!  We still have places available on Team 1, which runs from the 1st May to 12th June. If you want to visit Borneo, help in a direct and practical way and have an experience of a life time, then please get in touch with us.

Reforestation in the Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve –by June Rubis

 In 2009, with funding from the European Commission, we have successfully rehabilitated 120.5 hectares (with 34,834 seedlings from indigenous plant species) within the Lamandau River Reserve.

 Reforestation Lamandau 2009

Taking out Seedlings to be planted in the reserve

seedlings- lamandau 2009


Transporting seedlings lamandau 2009

Carrying seeds to be planted

planting -lamandau 2009

Filling polybags

Reforestation Lamandau 2009 - 2

Planting seeds into polybags

We have also planted 10,516 pinang species (type of palm) as a living reserve border at Sukamara. As well, we have planted 1200 seedlings at the 500 m buffer zone that surrounds the Reserve.

 watering seedlings -lamandau 2009

Watering seedlings during the dry season.

plant nursery Lamandau 2009

Planting seedlings into polybags

Reforestation Lamandau 2009 - 3

Transporting seedlings from Post Perapat.

Our current plans for 2010 include, rehabilitating up to 30 hectares of degraded land at the village forests outside the reserve. These are the same villages that we have been assisting in finding alternative sustainable livelihoods. The tree species chosen for this tree-planting project will be decided upon after discussions with the local communities.

All our thanks,

Orangutan Foundation

Reforesting Orangutan Wildlife Reserve

Recently I accompanied a logistic run to one of our guard posts, Pos Danau Burung (or Bird Lake Guard Post - where the the recent fires were), in the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve. Logistics run to guard post

Getting supplies to Pos Danau Burung

We also had a surprise for them - lots of cake, from our previous meeting with government officials at nearby town of Sukamara. They were very happy with the impromptu tea!

Plant Nursery at Lamandau Wildlife Reserve

Post Danau Burung also happens to be one of our plant nurseries for reforestation at the Reserve. Our Reforestation Manager, Pak Isem, recently bought more seedlings from local villagers, totalling to about 20 different indigenous species of plants, including fruiting trees that will eventually help feed the orangutans and other wildlife in Lamandau.

Nursery Lamandau Wildlife Reserve

As you can see from the photos, the seedlings are doing very well. Currently, we are waiting for the wet season so we can plant these seedlings.

As well, we do need your support to help run our various programmes in Lamandau. With only US$15, you ensure that our field assistants are well-equipped. A donation of US$30 strengthens morale in our camps, with staff uniforms. Take a look at our donation box, and see what you would like to support! Thank you very much Matthew K, Brigitta S and Tal B for your monthly donations.

Thank you,


Here, there and everywhere!

I hope the orangutans appreciate it! In the past two weeks, I have gone from Pangkalan Bun to Jakarta and back, Sukamara and back, and finally to Sebangau National Park and back; the last journey involving a cramped 10 hour overnight bus ride. In all that time, while I have seen their nests, I did not once lay eyes on a wild orangutan :-( This is an extraordinary amount of travelling, particularly so late in the year which is usually our quiet time. The meetings in Jakarta concerned the potential for protecting forests through the carbon markets, a process know as “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation” or REDD. REDD as a conservation tool is in its infancy though many groups are exploring how it could be applied in Indonesia.

Sukamara Meeting

Multi-stakeholder meeting with communities surrounding the Lamandau Reserve.

We went to Sukamara for a “Multi-stakeholders Meeting” when we bring together representatives from all the communities surrounding the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve as well as the local Government. The two-day meeting was a great success, helping us set our plans and targets for next year. Truly, we are receiving an incredible amount of support from the local Government.

The trip to Sebangau was arguably the most interesting, not least because I had never been there before. Sebangau was only designated a National Park in 2004 and yet is home to arguably the largest population of orangutans in any national park. Estimates consistently show a population of over 6,000 orangutans. Our reforestation team and I travelled there to see the land rehabilitation research being undertaken by the Centre for International Co-operation in Management of Tropical Peatlands (CIMTROP).

Research team

Research into peat swamp rehabilitation.

Cimtrop Camp

CIMTROP's is a pure research project, experimenting with different techniques, habitat types and tree-species to find what works best in degraded swamps. Our work is rather more applied – we want to cover a much larger area than the research project does but there is no sense in reinventing the wheel, or worse, repeating mistakes already made, so it was a valuable visit.

Tower Structure

Interestingly, at the edge of the CIMTROP study area a team of Japanese scientists have erected an environmental monitoring tower which is some 40m high. I have always wanted to have an observation tower in Lamandau. Having climbed to the top you had to conclude the view was great.

Tower Climb

The climb. Not one for the faint-hearted!

View from Tower

The view

Isam at the top of the tower

Isam -Orangutan Foundation Land Manager at the top of the tower

Reforestation Team

Orangutan Foundation's Reforestation Team looking a little tense on top of the tower!

Sunset from Tower


Isam, our Land Manager who had never been anywhere near as high in his whole life, was finally persuaded to let go of the hand rail. Once on the ground though he did agree the climb was an adventure worth having.

Thank you Patrik W, Lucia C, Mia B and Wanda H for your recent donations. We really appreciate your support. We are now only $205 short from reaching our $5,000 target – please help us reach this by the end of November.

Thank you,


Sowing the seeds…

My every sense says the forests on the northern border of the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve are in trouble. Already split into thin fingers of forest, separated by degraded areas, it seems these forests are retreating not expanding. However, with the support of local communities, we have chosen this area as a reforestation site. A few days ago I went there with Rene Dommain, the visiting German peat researcher, and we stayed at the very northern point of the Reserve, where we have a guard post, Post Prapat (see map).

Map Lamandau

Behind the post is one of the fingers of forest. Here there are tall trees, including those species found in deep forest, but they are only 20 metres away from sand. Clearly this is remnant primary forest and the thinner it gets, the more vulnerable it becomes.

Ariel view

Aerial view of Post Prapat with the remnant forest behind.

Rene helped to explain the process and no surprises here – the villain was fire. Whilst he described it as an “anthropogenic impact”, you and I can hear “man made”. The southern part of Borneo is a relatively “young” landscape. The base material is sand, deposited either from erosion of the high interior mountains or during the periods when the area was an ancestral seabed. Over thousands of years, grasses, shrubs, and then trees gradually covered the sand and forests grew.

Fires have had a major impact on this ecosystem. The first fires burning through the shallow humus layer, killing the trees’ roots. With the trees fallen the next fires to occur were even more destructive with subsequent fires encouraging scrub growth. Ultimately this left an exposed layer of sand with the original nutrient rich humus having been destroyed. Presently, these remaining forests are just waiting for the next dry year, the next fire.

The aim of the reforestation programme is not ambitious – even in our wildest dreams we cannot envisage the day when this will be thick forest. What we are trying to do is broaden the forested fingers, reduce the gaps and push the balance in favour of the trees not the scrub.

It is a tall order to regenerate this area, but you know us, we like a challenge!

We have established a tree nursery at Post Prapat. The people from the surrounding communities have been enthusiastic in finding wildings (seedlings harvested from wild seed-fall) to stock it. We will keep the trees in the nursery until their rooting systems are well established.



The whole process is hugely resource-intensive and the return may be as little as 50ha (1/2 km2 or 123 acres). But that is hardly the point. The real points are:

  • People learn about how fragile these ecosystems are.
  • We are demonstrating that protecting the existing forest is much more effective than trying to re-grow it
  • By protecting the fragile fringes, you prevent damage spreading to the core

In the case of Lamandau, the forest core is still rich in biodiversity. I led Rene on the 7 km walk southwards from Post Prapat to Camp Rasak. On the way, we saw a few birds and a snake. At Camp Rasak, I was hoping to catch of glimpse of Boni who we are told is seen most days and neither did we see Andi and Sawit, who seem to have gone off together (see post 'More orangutans back in the wild'). However we were fortunate to see Lady Di and her baby.

Lady Di and infant

Lady Di and infant 2

Lady Di and infant 3

Lady Di was released into Lamandau in Febuary 2006 and this is her first baby.

It is hard to believe our reforestation programme site is only 7 km away, but without this added protection, this forest and these orangutans would seem a lot more vulnerable.

- PS, Sheryl, you’ll be pleased to know once the eagle, snake and monkeys were out of the traps, I also set the fish free :-)

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