Have your donation doubled for free and support Borneo's wildlife conservationists

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.

Orangutan Foundation hosted 53 visiting Indonesian silviculture students from Bogor Agricultural University in June.. Image© Orangutan Foundation.

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.

Image© Helen Delachaux.

Thank you for your support. Click here to DOUBLE YOUR DONATION through the BIG GIVE.

Image© Orangutan Foundation.


Indonesia's future wildlife conservationists

Orangutan Foundation hosted 53 visiting Indonesian students from Bogor Agricultural University in June.

Ashley Leiman OBE, Orangutan Foundation Director, greeted the students at our research station in Tanjung Puting National Park, Central Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo).  The students were studying Silviculture. The name comes from the Latin silvi meaning forest and culture as in growing.

Providing opportunities and the facilities for Indonesian students to study tropical forests is not only vital for the future of the country's forests and people but is for orangutans too. A recent article in the journal Nature Scientific Report stated that 'Orangutan populations on Borneo have declined at a rate of 25% over the last 10 years'.  If we are to truly tackle this problem we have to think long-term. The future of orangutans ultimately rests in the hands of the Indonesian people.

Please donate to support our work - a future for orangutans, forests and people.

Thank you,

Orangutan Foundation


Research and the Rainforest

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!

#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.



  • 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:











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:

The Forest - A Message of Thanks

We have just received a wonderful message from our Research Station Manager, Fembry Arianto. The Orangutan Foundation manages Pondok Ambung Tropical Forest Research Station, which lies within one of Southeast Asia’s largest protected areas of tropical peat swamp and heath forest, Tanjung Puting National Park, Indonesian Borneo.

"The Forest…the place where I can rest, think, learn, observe and create my future…thank you to all my colleagues who always give great support and work together so well. 

Today marks 3 years and 21 days of working for the Orangutan Foundation, I’ve given and received so much from this organisation…thank you for everything, the passion runs deep!"

There is a rich diversity of species around the station including orangutans,           proboscis monkeys, gibbons, kingfishers, tarsiers, false gharial crocodiles, black rayed softshell turtles, clouded leopards, bintorungs and sun bears.

Pondok Ambung is available for use by individuals wishing to conduct research within Tanjung Puting National Park.

For more information please get in touch with our UK office

All photos show the grounds and variety of wildlife which can be found around Pondok Ambung Research Station, taken by Orangutan Foundation staff.

Wild cats and more! at the Pondok Ambung Research Site

This year the Foundation received a grant from the Rufford Foundation for a Camera Trap Programme at Pondok Ambung. This is an important development, as this research site is within the Tanjung Puting National Park (protected since 1982). Foundation staff have helped protect the park and the site since 1998. With this duration of protection, the park and its biodiversity has remained mostly undisturbed – a pristine forest in Central Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. The Foundation has hosted many students at Pondok Ambung - a chance for Indonesian students to conduct biodiversity research. Now with these cameras, we can catch a glimpse into more elusive wildlife...

Earlier this year, 10 camera traps were installed within the research site. The Foundation ensured there was no human activity in the study area for two months before the camera traps were installed. This lack of disturbance encourages more animals to travel past the camera traps. Foundation staff carefully selected the positions for the traps, and our hard work paid off!

Just one month after the camera traps were set up, we are excited to see the first collection of photos...  as well as those shown below, we also have seen crestless fireback (Lophura erythrophthalma), lesser mouse deer (Tragulus javanicus), Bornean red muntjac (Muntiacus muntjac), pig-tailed macaque (Macaca nemestrina) and the Malayan porcupine (Hystrix brachyura)!

Macan dahan (Neofelis diardi)

Babi hutan (Sus barbatus)

gBinturong-(Artictis binturong)

Kucing kuwuk (Prionaliourus bengalensis)

Musang (Viverra tangalunga)

Sempidan biru (Lophura ignita)

To get a snap shot into the lives of these rare and endangered species is truly special and important. Many of these creatures may be more endangered than currently listed (on IUCN Redlist – click here), so knowing where different species roam, and estimates of population size, are crucial.

It's fantastic to see this much biodiversity within 30 days. In this location, there is much potential for further scientific analysis. We look forward to future results - who knows what else we will see! To support the Foundation’s scientific research and the protection of orangutan habitat, please donate here or get in touch!

"Us and not us" by Ashley Leiman - Director of the Orangutan Foundation

Ashley Leiman OBE, director of the Orangutan Foundation, explores the complex relationship between man and our closest relatives – the great apes

Please see here : The Biologist Vol 61(2) p12-16 , for the full article.

" The great apes are often perceived differently to other animals. In many cases, it's the simple physical resemblance – we look alike – that's enough to affect how people think and feel about them. No other group of animal has the same attributes that strike a chord with people: hands with nails, eyes that mirror our own, and rich social and emotional lives. Despite this, the 21st century may see the extinction of one of mankind's closest living relatives...

Screen Shot 2013-10-25 at 09.51.11

[ ]...But there are two sides to our perception of apes. While one side emphasises the similarities, the other side emphasises the differences, how the apes are almost but not quite human. This duality occurs across the world, but is perhaps strongest in the west.

Joson, 4 year0ld  rescued orangutan




[ ]...No one is deliberately trying to wipe out the great apes. The present situation shows little more than a lack of care, both nationally and internationally. This is the point where western and indigenous attitudes to the great apes intersect. The fate of the apes rests finally with the inhabitants of ape-habitat countries, be they individuals, communities or governments. However, the west or developed world has a duty of care, for it's the western world order (and its demand for products and raw materials from ape habitats) that has given rise to so many of the problems the apes face.

Bornean orangutan by Ian Wood

"As long as they [apes] are able to roam the earth, hooting, leaping, munching, breaking branches, beating their chests, or simply sitting gazing quietly into the sunset, they will act as a perpetual and vital reminder that we are, after all, little more than brainy, naked apes." (Morris & Morris, 1966). "


Please consider donating to the Foundation here... You can contact us - Ashley and the team - on

Borneo's biodiversity; the Orangutan Foundation Research site

The new face to the Pangkalan Bun Indonesian office is Pak Arie. As our new manager for Pondok Ambung - Station for Tropical Research. The research site has been vital for many studies since 2005, including proboscis monkeys, fish, butterflies, the false gharial, orangutans and the stunning variety of bird life. Please do share on this post with your friends and family! Check out our facebook account and twitter account to keep in touch with us!

Pak Arie has already been a good addition to the team, keen to develop Pondok Ambung – new posters have been sent out to Indonesian universities about the research grants available – and you in the UK can apply too! Pak Arie recently re-surveyed the site, telling us more about two less studied species…

We think of tarantulas as primarily South American, but Borneo also have their own species - the Sweet Brown Tarantula (Aphonopelma Sp.).

Sweet Brown TarantulaOur team regularly see these nests in the day time, but would have to wait till dark to observe these arachnids nocturnal behaviour.

We are proud of the work we are doing on the ground, but there what about species living on the ground?! The Ling Zhi mushroom (Ganoderma sp.) was recently highlighted as an important species growing at Pondok Ambung.

Fungi - Pondok Ambung Nov 11

Within tropical areas, there is a high species diversity of macroscopic fungi, mostly unstudied within remote Indonesian forests. Data and literature on macroscopic fungi generally details those in subtropical regions that have different qualities than those in the tropics. Fungi perform essential role in maintaining the balance and composition of the soil, acting as a decomposer, which in turn helps fertilization. Fungi also can be used as drugs for their multiple medicinal uses. For example, Ling Jhi are fungi that have been cultivated in many countries such as Japan and China. Since 1999 these fungi have been used by an Indonesian company as herbal ingredients.

Dr Mark Fellowes Fungi 2

Swimming peacefully through the rivers near Pondok Ambung, the black rayed softshell turtle (Amyda cartilaginea/ Trionyx cartilaginous or Labi-labi in Indonesian) might pass you by.

Black Rayed Softshell Turtle

Turtles can be studied around the pier of Pondok Ambung. These are stunning creatures when you look at their shells, but with odd faces! They are active either day or night, usually requiring a muddy area to lay and hatch their eggs activities. Listed as vulnerable by IUCN, it’s always welcome news when we hear about sightings from the field. Pictured here, the team are measuring the turtle for our research records.

What is an orangutan?..

This week we take things back to basics...What animal are we helping to save , how and why? 

The animal About a million years ago, orangutans lived throughout much of eastern Asia, from Java in the south, right up into Laos and southern China. Today they are found only on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra - both areas of the country of Indonesia. They are the only great ape that lives in Asia and no where else. There are two species of orangutan - the Bornean orangutan (P. pygmaeus) and the Sumatran orangutan (P. abelii). The two species express slightly different physical characteristics.  The latter comes from Sumatra and is classified by a narrower face and longer beard than the Bornean species.  Bornean orangutans are slightly darker in colour and the males have wider cheek pads than their Sumatran relatives.  Behavioural differences have also been observed between the two species; Sumatran orangutans are more frugivorous (fruit-eating) and there is more evidence of tool use than in Bornean orangutans.  Under the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List, the Sumatran orangutan is classified as critically endangered and the Bornean as endangered.Screen Shot 2013-10-25 at 09.51.11


Orangutans are the largest arboreal mammal in the world. They are also the most arboreal of the great apes and spend most of their time in trees.The preferred habitat of the orangutan is low-lying peat swamp forest – they are rarely found in habitats over an altitude of 800m.  Although they are found on both Borneo & Sumatra, their ranges are very limited.

Orangutans are wholly dependent on trees for their existence. They are perfectly adapted to life in the forest - they sleep in nests (yep - really! In nests built of leaves which they learn to construct from a young age).

Orangutan high up in tree. Photo by Orangutan Foundation

They feed predominantly on fruit and travel with ease through the forest canopy, rarely descending to the forest floor. Primarily frugivorous (eating fruits), orangutans have an important role as seed disperses. They selectively chose ripe fruit whose seeds are adapted to withstand passage through the orangutans' gut. Once excreted, the seeds find themselves in their own little compost pile, which helps them to become established.  Over 400 food types have been documented as part of the orangutans diet, and although it consists mainly of fruit, in times of scarcity orangutans will shift their eating habits to lower quality food, such as bark, leaves & termites (a valuable source of protein!), rather than travel to a different area.  As well as acting as seed disperses, orangutans help to open up the forest canopy.  This allows light to reach the forest floor, which once again helps the forest regenerate naturally. They are a vital cog in the workings of the rainforest ecosystem.  


Orangutans are unique among the primate species.  All the other apes and monkeys (check the difference between apes and monkeys here!) are social and gregarious (meaning enjoying the company of others or/and living together in groups) whilst the orangutan is semi solitary, the largest group being a mother and two offspring.  Females are less solitary and may spend up to 25% with other orangutans. In contrast, male orangutans will spend less than 9% in association with other orangutans.  Sumatran orangutans are more social and this social behaviour usually coincides with the simultaneous fruiting of the fig tree, which doesn't occur in Borneo.

Orangutans are the slowest breeding of all primates and have the longest inter-birth interval of almost eight years, of any land-based mammal. In other words they are the slowest reproducing animal on land... The female orangutan reaches puberty at ten years and will normally have her first infant between the age of 12 and 15. Offspring are dependent on their mothers for at least five years and with a life expectancy of 45 years plus, females will normally have no more than three offspring. With these factors combined, the orangutan population, especially small fragmented populations, are at considerable risk.  They don’t have the capacity to recover from disasters that may strike a population. A slight rise in the adult female mortality rate by just 1-2% can drive a local population to extinction.

Female orangutan, Amoy, with newborn Alex. Photo by Orangutan Foundation

How we work... The Foundation works to protect this amazing species via five areas of work , detailed in a bullet point list here, where you can link to read all about the work of our Bornean and UK team!

And why.... We work in this way to help the numbers of wild orangutans to increase and to preserve the vital habitat they (and so many other species) need to survive. Most recently, orangutan numbers have declined... Please consider learning more about the threats facing these habitats by reading here. Remember it's so easy to learn more and help orangutans and their habitat by telling others and by helping out in any way. If you can outreach for the Foundation in any small way , please do email us on There any many reasons why to conserve a species - some reasons to conserve the orangutan are listed below...

  • For Pongo pygmaeus there has been well over a 50% during the last 60 years (generation length estimated at 20 years, Wich et al. in press).
  • For Pongo abelii there has been well over a 80% over the last 75 years (assuming a generation length of at least 25 years; Wich et al. in press).
  • This decline continues, as forests within its range are under major threat. Most orangutans are outside of protected areas, including within potential logging areas and conversion forests.
  • The decline of the species is predicted to continue at this rate, primarily because of forest loss due to conversion of forest to agriculture and fires. The majority of remnant wild populations are located outside of protected areas, in forests that are exploited for timber production or in the process of being converted to agriculture.
  • Orangutan feeding habits have been described as “boom or bust”. Cheryl Knott in West Borneo reported that when fruit is plenty, the orangutans consumed many more calories. Females had higher estrogen levels and mating was more frequent. The opposite occurred when availability of fruit was low. Orangutans will shift their eating habits to lower quality food rather than travel to a different area. Therefore logging could have drastic effects on reproduction, by increasing birth intervals, due to lack of high quality food. For a species that already has extremely longer inter-birth intervals this is a very serious consequence.

Thank you!

Camera trap training workshop

Groups working together to protect and research Borneo means there can be an exchange of knowledge and techniques with others , to improve conservation - a vital part of conservation programmes and habitat protection. This week, Dr Susan Cheyne, an OuTrop Director, lead a workshop on camera trap surveying. OuTrop are a scientific research NGO based in Palangka Raya.

Susan, along with the OuTrop/WildCRU camera trapping team were in Pangkalan Bun at the Yayorin office (in the same town as the Foundation's office) to demonstrate within a training workshop. We are delighted to be collaborating with OuTrop and our partner organisation Yayasan Orangutan Indonesia (Yayorin) who will be placing camera traps in the Belantikan Forest in north Central Kalimantan. This group of three including the Foundation want to survey different forests with camera traps to see what biodiversity is out there!

The workshop was led by Dr Susan Cheyne and Wiwit Juwita Sastramidjaja. Present were representatives from Yayorin, Orangutan Foundation UK, local BKSDA (Indonesian Department of Nature Conservation) and Forestry. The workshop discussed the overall project and reasons for surveying different forests to determine the population distribution and density of different species as well as the practicalities of setting up camera traps in the field. Banteng (the endangered wild ox) is a particular focus of the survey, which lives in the Belantikan forest. Clouded leopards are going to be another focus of the surveying - all species seen will be documented. We are excited to see what we can find - collecting data like this provides the research which is an important tool to guide conservation management. The more the science community knows, the more can be done to protect areas and the species within them. The results with be shared with the local government to help protect Belantikan and gain new knowledge about all the wildlife in this remote ecosystem.

Scientific research grants from the Orangutan Foundation

The first research grant was given back in 1993 and since then we've supported projects that have varied widely on the species of Central Kalimantan. Projects have ranged from research into the biodiversity of fish in the Tanjung Puting National Park river , to groundbreaking orangutan behavioural projects. Some of these behavioural projects were the starting point to various research that is now full time. Indeed, many of our grant recipients have gone on to establish themselves as full time researchers and professors!

Recently, the grants have been given solely to Indonesian students, increasing the way in which the Orangutan Foundation support and work with local communities to save biodiverse habitat, including the home of the glorious red ape. Recent studies include looking into the mating habits of proboscis monkey. This renowned species is classed as endangered, living along the riversides in the Tanjung Puting National Park and threatened by many of the same threats which are contributing to the decline of wild orangutans. In the past decade, we funded the study of the feeding behavior and estimated home ranges of released orangutans in the Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve which we protect. This information is vital to all organisations who release orangutans to understand what fruit and types of habitat are preferred by rehabilitated individuals. If rehabilitated individuals remain unstressed when reintroduced to the wild - due to good quality, well chosen habitat - their chance of survival is greatly increased. For other titles of research projects, please see our website here...

Many of the projects are based at our research station - Pondok Ambung (please click) - located within Tanjung Puting National Park, sitting off the side of the beautiful Sekonyer Kanan black-water river. This station is newly refurbished with perfect facilities and dedicated staff-team to ensure any research conducted becomes an informative and enjoyable project! This national park facility has been developed and maintained by the Orangutan Foundation and was designed for visiting researchers to come and study the park’s diverse flora and fauna.

We are excited to see what future research will be supported by the Orangutan Foundation. As projects discover more and more, they also always contribute to protecting those all important areas for Indonesian's biodiversity to flourish. 

Thank you for any support toward Orangutan Foundation's research projects!

Belantikan’s big ape count

Determining wild population sizes of orangutans and gibbons, both highly arboreal (tree-dwelling) apes species, is a conservation challenge. But, over the years, scientist have come up with methods that enable accurate estimates. For example, with orangutan their nests are counted and with gibbons, it is their songs that are recorded and used.

We are trying to find out more about the wild ape populations of the Belantikan Hulu region which is part of the greater Belantikan Arut – a spectacular landscape spanning 500,000 hectares across Central and West Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo). The Belantikan Conservation Programme (BCP) is a joint initiative of Yayorin (an Indonesian NGO) and ourselves.

The Belanitkan Hulu comprises primary and secondary lowland forests, including both recently logged forests and post-logging forests that have since recovered (over the last 35-40 years). The area has ravines, rivers, cliffs and logging roads – all synonymous with Borneo.

There is a large wild orangutan population, which was first surveyed in 2003, and a gibbon population, whose size is unknown. In 2012, The Rufford Foundation awarded funding to the BCP to build a small research station and to commence surveys of the ape species. The research station is now in use by BCP’s field researchers and by a team of biologists from the National University of Jakarta.

Our initial surveys indicate there has been a continuing decrease in the orangutan population over the years. This population was estimated to be the largest population of orangutans existing in the wild outside of the protected area system. In fact, more than 70% of the total Bornean orangutan population in the wild is found outside of designated conservation areas. Hence, it is important to determine the size and distribution of the Belantikan population accurately, and to be able to monitor the current apparent population decline, so that appropriate conservation actions can be taken.

The gibbon survey estimated a density of just over 3 groups per km2, which is considered high. The BCP will conduct further research to determine how orangutans adapt to living in logging forests and to the varying degrees of disturbance. Further studies on gibbons will also survey the wider area and the estimated territory and cruising areas, study group composition as well as changes in habitat conditions between seasons.

We hope to provide you with new and exciting findings from Belantikan as we start to find out more about its forests and what lives within.

We are extremely grateful to The Rufford Foundation and to the US Fish and Wildlife Service Great Ape Conservation Fund for supporting this research project, and to the Arcus Foundation for supporting the on-going conservation project.

Thank you,

Orangutan Foundation and Yayorin (Belantikan Conservation Programme)


Butterflies and birds - diversity of life!

The Orangutan Foundation is proud to support Indonesian students conducting research at Pondok Ambung Tropical Forest Research Station in Tanjung Puting National Park, Central Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. We want to encourage and help young Indonesian scientists and researchers.  Researchers in a boatYusi (at the front) and Harri (in the middle) conduting their research in Tanjung Puting National Park. Photograph by Brian MatthewsIn 2009, we provided two grants, one to Yusi Indriani for her research into the diversity of butterfly species around Pondok Ambung and one to Harri Purnomo for his research into the diversity of bird species. The students spent two months at Pondok Ambung conducting their research. Indonesian researcherYusi Indriani (in the middle) presenting her research results to Ashley Leiman (left), the Orangutan Foundation Director, Rene Bonke (right), a German Tomistoma researcher and Hudi DW (just left of centre), the Orangutan Foundation Programme Coordinator in Orangutan Foundation Pangkalan Bun office.butterfly at Tanjung Puting National ParkYusi recorded over 80 butterfly species. Orangutan FoundationI hope to bring you more news about Pondok Ambung and its amazing wildlife soon.Thank you,Hudi W.D.Orangutan Foundation Programme Co-ordinator

Add Power To Our Research

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. Pondok Ambung Tropical Forest Research Station

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.

Solar power set 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.

Tomistoma 2.jpg

Malaysian False Gharial (Tomistoma schlegelii)

Proboscis Monkey -photo by Dr Mark Fellowes

Proboscis Monkey



Pitcher Plant

Tropical Pitcher Plant

Adult Male Orangutan

And of course...Orangutans!

Thanks for your comments on my last post - I've just about recovered!

A very rare crocodile

Compared with the week before, when I spent four days out of six in the field, this week seems to have been very office bound with only one visit to the Orangutan Care Centre. I guess that is what happens as audit-time approaches. One exciting thing did happened. Rene Bonke, a German PhD student arrived to begin research into the ecology of the Malaysian False Gharial (Tomistoma schlegelii), one of the world’s rarest crocodiles. Tomistoma.jpg

Malaysian False Gharial (Tomistoma schlegelii)

Rene will be spending the next three months at Pondok Ambung Research Station in Tanjung Puting National Park (TPNP). Earlier studies, on which we also collaborated, found “the highest ever recorded density of wild Tomistoma” on the river system leading to Pondok Ambung and Camp Leakey.

Tomistoma are easily distinguished from the other species of crocodile found locally, the saltwater or estuarine crocodile (Crocodylus porosus).

Saltwater Crocodile

Saltwater Crocodile 2

Top photo large Tomistoma on Sekonyer and one below saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) - not so sweet!

Tomistoma, like the true gharial of India, have slender snouts which are an adaptation for catching fish, their main prey. Tomistoma can reach lengths of over 5 m. Individuals of that size are rarely seen, but we know of a very large one on the Sekonyer River.

Tomistoma 2.jpg

One of the residents in the Sekonyer River, TPNP

Tomistoma have never been known to attack people, though they have been recorded catching swimming monkeys. By comparison, saltwater crocodiles can be aggressive and extremely dangerous. Unfortunately one actually took a tourist in 2002. As the sign at Pondok Ambung says “There is a reason why crocodile researchers come here: No Swimming!”


Tomistoma - Photo by Mark Auliya

Sheryl, thank you for your offer of a donation. I read your blog on your visit to the Centre for Great Apes. I hope you are not too offended by chimps spitting because orangutans do it too. And they blow raspberries…

For more information Tomistoma Task Force