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
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.
Was it a deer?
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.
Below are some images taken from camera traps at Pondok Ambung Research Station, Tanjung Puting National Park. In 2017, Orangutan Foundation, awarded three research scholarships to Indonesian students. One of them is Reza Bayu Firmansyah. Reza is conducting research on the density and distribution of wild cat species to complete his Master's Degree at UGM - Gajah Mada University.
Around the Pondok Ambung Research Station area our staff and Reza think there are 3 individual clouded leopards (Neofelis diardi) all from one family. A male, female and juvenile this based on their size and where they where and when they were photographed.
Clouded leopards are a threatened species and it is vital that we learn more about them. Pondok Ambung Tropical Forest Research Station is located in Tanjung Puting National Park, Indonesian Borneo and is run by the Orangutan Foundation in co-operation with Tanjung Puting National Park Authority.
From 28th November until 5th December you can DOUBLE your donation through the Big Give Christmas Challenge, at no extra cost to yourself. Click here to donate and double your impact to support our work.
This year our we are raising funds to inspire Borneo’s future conservationists. In this clip Arie, Research Manager of Pondok Ambung, our tropical forest research station in Tanjung Puting National Park, explains why it is important.
We use camera traps to monitor the wildlife in the forests surrounding Pondok Ambung. Watch this short clip to see some of the species we’ve managed to capture on film!
To protect Indonesia’s biodiversity, future conservationists need to be encouraged and supported.
Our research station is a base from where Indonesian students and international scientists can conduct research. Take a virtual tour below:
Please help us to ensure a future for orangutans, forests and people.
On the 22nd May, Orangutan Foundation field staff teamed up with Orangutan Green Teams and conservation cadets FK31 to run awareness activities with Sekonyer Village, within Tanjung Puting National Park. The primary aim of the activities was to educate and support the villagers activities to help protect the critically endangered orangutan and its threatened forest habitat.
Community outreach is a cornerstone of the Orangutan Foundation’s work in Indonesian Borneo.
A variety of activities ensued, which included painting the village library and distributing books, as well as games for the children. The aim was to encourage members of the village to support ecotourism in the area as an alternative to habitat destruction.
As OF Research Manager Arie reports “We need more…to keep these activities running…support the people of Sekonyer Village! We stand together…”
It is vital we reach out to local communities around areas of protected tropical forest habitat in order to ensure a future for orangutans, forests and people.
Please donate today to support the Orangutan Foundation’s community work in Central Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo.
Research and the Rainforest
To mark #RainforestLive2017, we explore the reasons why rainforest research is so critical to our operations in Indonesian Borneo. We share recent research on individual species, and an overview on other more general research which is ongoing.
Research provides the basis for making key decisions on the conservation of rainforests. Since 2005 the Orangutan Foundation has managed a tropical forest research station, situated on the Sekonyer river inside Tanjung Puting National Park, Indonesian Borneo. Known as Pondok Ambung, it is used by international researchers, Indonesian students and university groups for wildlife and forest research.
Recently the field staff stationed at Pondok Ambung have been carrying out research on tarsiers, a species of primate, and false gharials (T. Schelegelii), a species of crocodile. These two species are found within Tanjung Puting National Park and both are threatened with the risk of extinction in the wild. Little is known about either species. It is important to learn more about their behaviour to learn how best to protect them.
You can learn more about our tarsier research here.
Field staff have been monitoring false gharial activity on the Sekonyer River, in Tanjung Puting National Park. Four have been caught and tagged in areas close by to Pondok Ambung, so that staff can monitor their behaviour long-term.
We also received exciting reports of the presence a very large false gharial in the area judging by the size of its footprint (twice the length of a pen!).
However, staff did not come across the creature during the survey.
Staff also conducted interviews with miners outside the park, who also reported sightings of 7 large false gharials in the surrounding area. More research will be conducted on why these crocodiles are living in areas of human disturbance such as this, but it is likely a result of a higher abundance of food.
Alongside recent research on individual species of wildlife, we also have a number of camera traps placed around Pondok Ambung in order to monitor the biodiversity of the surrounding forest. Watch this short clip to see some of the species we’ve managed to capture on film:
All this data provides important insights into the biodiversity which exists within the area we protect. It is vital we learn as much as we can in order to help protect and raise awareness of the important role each species plays in the rainforest ecosystem.
This is why the Orangutan Foundation takes part in events like Rainforest: Live, joining a global movement to spread the word and encourage action to protect the incredible biodiversity that exists within tropical forest habitat.
Follow us today on social media, using the hashtag #RainforestLive!
This wonderful photo was taken by Arif, the manager of Pondok Ambung Tropical Forest Research Station, which is run by the Orangutan Foundation in cooperation with the head of Tanjung Puting National Park, (Indonesian Borneo).
The bird in the nest is the Black Naped Monarch Hypothymis azurea. It is a small species of flycatcher and the female is different in having a brown back.
The park authorities have invited stakeholders to work together to produce a book on the bird species found in the Park. The whole project will be a joint effort, from collecting photos to designing the layout. Arif attended the first meeting to share ideas and discuss the book's content.
In 2009, we gave a research grant to Harri Purnomo (Bogor Agriculture University), an Indonesian student, whose study of the diversity of birds at Pondok Ambung Tropical Forest Research Station, found 107 species. It is thought that over 200 bird species are found within the Park. We will be helping to identify the different species of birds in photographs that are to be included in the book. Watch this space for news on the book.
Steppes Discovery are running Orangutan Conservation Tours to the National Park, which includes a visit to the Pondok Ambung Research Station. For more details about this once-in-a-lifetime trip click here.
Very quickly, if anyone would like to see Tanjung Puting National Park, one of the protected areas in which we work, then a short video clip has been released by a German film company who made a film about Tomistoma crocodiles last year. The narration is in German (which will probably be OK for our Swiss friends :-) and an English translation to follow shortly) but the pictures speak for themselves. Its shows orangutans, proboscis monkeys and Pondok Ambung Research Station.Here is the link: http://www.br-online.de/bayerisches-fernsehen/welt-der-tiere/sunda-gavial-krokodil-sumatra-ID1234357757657.xml
Are you familiar with the concept of speaking too soon? Well, last week it worked in my favour. As we travelled up to Pondok Ambung Research Station, I said to my colleagues, “It’s been ages since I saw a wild orangutan along the river”. Literally, not a minute later there was this young one.
Adolescent wild orangutan at the edge of the river in Tanjung Puting National Park.
It was impossible to tell if the orangutan was male or female but its size suggested it was an adolescent making its first forays away from its mother.
The orangutan is right in the middle of the photo - looks like a dark bundle!
Can you see the orangutan?
Seeing any orangutan is great but we all especially love seeing wild ones, as opposed to the rehabilitated ex-captives seen near to the camps or in Lamandau. Anyway, I am now saying “It’s been ages since I saw a river dolphin….”
I am sorry for the long silence – I had a fantastic break with my family in Australia. I hope you all had a similarly good end to the year. I actually got back to Indonesia on 9 January but had to spend a frustrating week in Jakarta; the traffic jams in the city are something else!
Anyway, I arrived back in Pangkalan Bun last Thursday and, you’ll be pleased to know, I wasted no time in getting back into the forest. Yesterday, the National Park office hosted a visit by the Bupati, the head of the local Government. There was a cast of thousands; well 67 to be precise but the orangutans did not seem at all fazed.
Visit to Camp Leakey organised by the National Park Office.
There were lots of orangutans about including Tom who remained incredibly cool despite the crowd of onlookers. Even the gibbons came in.
Feeding Site - Camp Leakey
After everyone had moved back to Camp I stayed on at the feeding site as there was a new sub-adult male at the feeding platform. The Assistants tell me it is Popeye, the son of the wild female orangutan Peat. Ashley and I can remember following him when he was just an adolescent. Unfortunately, it was getting very dark and overcast by then so my pictures don’t do the scene justice.
There are in fact three or four orangutans in the photo spread out through the trees - you might be able to just work them out.
The day ended in a local village with a display of traditional dancing. All in all it was a fine welcome back!
Brigitta - thank you very much for you recent donations we really appreciate your support.
Firstly, a big thank you to Brigiatta for your monthly donation and Maciej for your donation of $100. As you recently visited Tanjung Puting National Park and Camp Leakey this post should hopefully be of interest to you.
In July, we discussed why the orangutan Riga shared her food with her mother, Rani. The reason may be biological or social but what is certain is that it is a rare event between adult orangutans; which is why it was surprising to see it happen again on Sunday – but this time with another twist.
Tom - dominant male
Tom is the undoubted King of Camp Leakey; the dominant male. He doesn’t have to share anything with anybody if he doesn’t want to. On Sunday, he sat down with his bucket of milk and proceeded to slurp away at it with Siswi looking enviously at him. Tut then came up, she had not been to the afternoon feeding so may have been hungry. Tut is Tom’s mother but subordinate to Siswi, so she approached warily.
Tom, however, passed over the bucket without hesitation (and all Siswi could do is continue to look on greedily!).
But what made all this doubly interesting is that it points to an answer to one of the big remaining questions of orangutan research: do they recognise their own parents/offspring? In reality, there is no more reason for Tom to share his milk with Tut than with Siswi (indeed, Tut is not in season but Siswi could be) and yet he did willingly. Why? It would be interesting to think Tom knows his mother and that was why he acted favourably towards her but like so much about orangutan behaviour we still have a lot to learn.
Thanks to Georgina Kenyon who has written this short piece for us about her experience making the BBC radio programme.
"It’s embarrassing to say but I can’t remember being that interested in orangutans…until I saw the big male Kusasi coming straight for Stephen and me at the feeding platform at Camp Leakey.
What an animal!
I also loved walking through the forest, following the other orangutans as they were looking for food– those four hands and those eyes!
I’ll always remember my stay that night on the klotok and listening to the sounds of the Borneo jungle – the rowdy chainsaw beetles and the gibbons at first light and watching the butterflies and the birds of prey.
I have always thought the issues surrounding conservation can be very complicated - so many threats, so many issues.
Yet I was impressed by the pragmatism of the staff at the Orangutan Foundation; they made all the problems facing the jungle appear manageable.
A big ‘thankyou’ to all the team at the Orangutan Foundation-everyone went out of their way to help me make the BBC radio programme."
Please take a few minutes to view this short video 'Fragile Haven' about Tanjung Puting National Park by David Willis (it may take a few minutes to load but is worth waiting for).
Tanjung Puting National Park is one of the world's largest areas of protected tropical peat swamp and heath forest. The Park has more than 4,000 orangutans making it one of the largest remaining populations in Borneo. Please click on this link (Protecting Tanjung Puting National Park) to read more about the Park and our work there.
Pondok Ambung, our research station in Tanjung Puting National Park, has been mentioned quite a bit in my blog. In the late 80's, Pondok Ambung was established as a proboscis monkey research site but by the end of 90's it had been badly damaged by illegal loggers. The Orangutan Foundation's team of volunteers repaired the site in 2001 but it remained abandoned until 2005 when the Rufford Maurice Laing Foundation awarded us a grant for its complete renovation.
And this is what we did.
The station requires a new solar power set. Solar is the only source of power providing electricity for the station. A new solar set costs $600 and any donations towards this amount would be hugely appreciated. So far the running and maintenance of the station has been entirely funded by the Foundation or from fees received from researchers staying at Pondok Ambung.
Recently, Pondok Ambung was used as the base for the “Orang-utan ‘08” expedition from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. A team of four undergraduates led by Graham Banes spent eight weeks in Tanjung Puting studying the effects of disturbance, particularly forest fires, on the distribution and density of orangutans. Encouraging scientific research in Tanjung Puting National Park creates the knock on effect of increasing support for its protection.
Here are some of the incredible species that have drawn researchers to Pondok Ambung so far.
Malaysian False Gharial (Tomistoma schlegelii)
Tropical Pitcher Plant
And of course...Orangutans!
Thanks for your comments on my last post - I've just about recovered!
Hello again, sorry for the silence but I have just had another fantastic week in Tanjung Puting National Park. Actually, on Monday I was in Lamandau, on a peat-lands survey, but I was still out of the office and in the forest, which made for a good day!
In case you're wondering where these places I keep mentioning are, here's a map (Pangkalanbun is where our office is).
At Pondok Ambung I caught up with René, the German crocodile researcher, and then spent a wonderful couple of days at Camp Leakey. There were orangutans everywhere! What was great was seeing some unusual things. Foremost on that list was food sharing between two adult females.
Above and below, Rani and Riga - sharing food
Young orangutans will often sample what their mothers are eating. This is part of the learning process; finding out what is good to eat. However, on Wednesday, I watched two adult orangutans Rani and her daughter Riga sharing food. What made this doubly interesting is that it was Riga who was giving food to her mother. There may be some biological reason for this – Rani’s three year old son is obviously Riga’s half-brother but that seems a stretch. Normally, the genetic drivers of caring-behaviour are down the generations, not up them. This could have been a case of dominance; the older female forcing the younger one to submit. However, it is also quite likely that it was a simple act of altruism: Riga had enough to eat so was happy to share with her mother.
The final excitement of the week was finding a dead and half-eaten crocodile. We reported this to René who examined the carcass. He estimated it to have been around three metres in length and was killed in a fight with another crocodile. Almost certainly the other crocodile was bigger.
Sekonyer River, TPNP
Having just bathed in that river it was kind of sobering to know there was a bigger crocodile out there…..
As always thanks for your comments, questions and support of our work. Maciej G, thank you very much for your $50 donation at the end of June. Will try and post again soon - the daily powercuts aren't making it easy!
Orangutan Foundation, 7 Kent Terrace, London, NW1 4RP