Wildlife Conservation

Researching fauna and flora in orangutan habitat, Indonesian Borneo

The tropical forests of Borneo and Sumatra provide far more than just a home for orangutans, they are one of the most biodiverse ecosystems on Earth. Our tropical forest research station, Pondok Ambung, is situated on the banks of the Sekonyer River in Tanjung Puting National Park, Central Kalimantan , Indonesian Borneo.

Camera trap snaps a wild adult male orangutan.

Camera trap snaps a wild adult male orangutan.

Orangutan Foundation researchers monitor and track the health of this ecosystem and the species found here. Our drive to promote tropical forest ecology and conservation to Indonesian students, winning their hearts and support, is crucial to the future of the orangutan and Indonesia’s forests.

This blog post provides a snapshot of some of the species studied and the activities undertaken at Pondok Ambung this year. As you will see, many take place after dark.

Students from school SMAN 1 Pangkalan Bun on a forest night walk looking for signs of wildlife.

Students from school SMAN 1 Pangkalan Bun on a forest night walk looking for signs of wildlife.

Bornean Tarsier ( Tarsius bancanus boreanus ). A nocturnal primate found at Pondok Ambung Research Station, Tanjung Puting National Park, Indonesian Borneo. March 2019. Researchers also detect their presence by the scent of their urine.

Bornean Tarsier (Tarsius bancanus boreanus). A nocturnal primate found at Pondok Ambung Research Station, Tanjung Puting National Park, Indonesian Borneo. March 2019. Researchers also detect their presence by the scent of their urine.

Orangutan Foundation researchers fitting camera traps, which require constant maintenance in the humid conditions and with the odd interference from wildlife too!

Orangutan Foundation researchers fitting camera traps, which require constant maintenance in the humid conditions and with the odd interference from wildlife too!

Introducing high school students to camera traps.

Introducing high school students to camera traps.

Pig-tailed macaque ( Macaca nemestrina ) known locally as monyet beruk

Pig-tailed macaque (Macaca nemestrina) known locally as monyet beruk

False gharial crocodile ( Tomistoma  schlegelii) can reach more than 5m in length.

False gharial crocodile (Tomistoma schlegelii) can reach more than 5m in length.

Two excited crocodile researchers! Orangutan Foundation support their studies with a research grant.

Two excited crocodile researchers! Orangutan Foundation support their studies with a research grant.

Individual crocodiles are tagged and monitored.

Individual crocodiles are tagged and monitored.

Local high school students using traditional and new ways to identify species.

Local high school students using traditional and new ways to identify species.

Phenology studies. In March, observations along a transect found 25 species of tree flowering and fruiting, many orangutan food trees such as papung and ubar.

Phenology studies. In March, observations along a transect found 25 species of tree flowering and fruiting, many orangutan food trees such as papung and ubar.

Squirrel - feeds on fruit and nuts and can help to spread seeds when accidentally dropping them whilst gathering and carrying.

Squirrel - feeds on fruit and nuts and can help to spread seeds when accidentally dropping them whilst gathering and carrying.

News from the orangutan monitoring release camps, Lamandau Wildlife Reserve

Orangutan Foundation vet, Dr Dimas, has kept a close eye on the healing of Abid’s broken arm.  Two-year-old orangutan Adib fractured his arm on 16th December after he fell from a tree.

Two-year-old orangutan Adib’s arm is healing well and he now has a strong grasp.

Two-year-old orangutan Adib’s arm is healing well and he now has a strong grasp.

We are delighted to report that Adib can now grasp the wood in his enclosure and he’s started to play and swing around inside. He shows no sign of pain when his hand is held, and he has a strong grip on the camp staff when they pick him up.  Due to his young age his bones will heal quickly and we are sure he’ll make a full recovery and be back in the trees at Camp JL in a week or two.

Okto enjoying the high-water levels at Camp Buluh!

Okto enjoying the high-water levels at Camp Buluh!

There is no forgetting it is the rainy season in Borneo! Okto and Shifa are certainly taking full advantage of the high-water levels at Camp Buluh.

Orangutan Shifa joining in too.

Orangutan Shifa joining in too.

Shifa is progressing very well and the Camp staff are finding it increasingly difficult to return her in the evenings from the forest back to her enclosure. This is a very positive sign and we are hopeful that we will soon release Shifa from soft-release to an independent life into the wild. Watch this space…

Bangkal December 2018.JPG

With plenty of fruit in the forest, not many of the post-release orangutans come for supplementary fruit. However, Bangkal, the dominant male orangutan at post-release monitoring Camp Gemini has been seen in the forest. Read more about Bangkal’s extraordinary survival story by clicking here. 

Donate to support our work in the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve, Indonesian Borneo.

#WildlifeWednesday: Tarsiers

The Orangutan Foundation manages a tropical forest research station in Tanjung Puting National Park, Indonesian Borneo. Pondok Ambung Research Station is used as a base from which our field staff, students and international researchers can learn more about the flora and fauna of Borneo’s forests.These studies are vital when implementing strategies to best conserve rainforest habitat in this area.

We’ve just received an exciting report from our research manager on tarsiers.

 

TARSIER FACTFILE

  • There are 10 known species of tarsier, all of which are found in Southeast Asia.
  • Tarsiers are the only carnivorous primate, primarily feeding on insects, but have been recorded to feed on small birds, bats, frogs, crabs and even snakes!
  • Tarsiers are small primates, averaging around just 13cm in length.
  • They are nocturnal, using their large eyes and ears to hunt for prey at night.
  • Their spines are specially adapted to allow them to turn their heads nearly 180° in each direction, perfect for locating prey.
  • Tarsiers move by leaping; Bornean tarsiers have been recorded to jump distances over 5m!
  • They are sexually dimorphic: males are larger than females.
  • Tarsiers have been known to live for up to 16 years.
  • They are generally found no higher than 2m above the forest floor.
  • They tend to live in small groups of around 3 individuals.
  • Tarsiers mark their territory with scent – using their urine!

A Tarsier is a primate which inhabits a range of different forest types. Their taxonomic classification is as follows:

ORDER:

PRIMATES

SUB ORDER:

HAPLORRHINI

INFRA ORDER:

TARSIIFORMES

FAMILY:

TARSIDAE

GENUS:

TARSIUS

The species our staff studied is known as the Bornean Tarsier (Tarsius bancanus boreanus). Bornean tarsiers are widespread throughout the island of Borneo. Listed by the IUCN as “Vulnerable”, Bornean tarsiers are threatened by the risk of extinction in the wild, as a result of habitat loss.

A population exists within the forests of Tanjung Puting National Park. Our field staff have conducted surveys to track this lesser-known species of primate. Locations where tarsier activity was identified were tracked using GPS. Our staff directly encountered two tarsiers, with 10 other indirect encounters from identifying their scent - left with urine.

All traces of tarsiers were found either near the river or in swamp forest, as this is where tarsiers obtain most of their food. Supporting other research, the two tarsiers spotted were found only in small trees, no higher than 2m from the ground.

Field staff reported heavy rain during tarsier observations, which made it difficult to spot and follow them in the dense vegetation.

It is vital we conserve these types of habitat for tarsiers by preventing human activity in this area of protected forest which leads to habitat loss. Limiting the amount of tourism in this area would also be beneficial so the area can be better managed.

Want to learn more about our research programme? Watch this short clip: