An interview with Jakir - Patrol Manager, Orangutan Foundation

To finish off Orangutan Awareness Week, our final blog post is about Jakir, who oversees the protection of the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve and its precious inhabitants. He has been in this role for 10 years. Jakir is also a talented photographer and many of his images have been included in our new photobook, The Orangutan's World. Our committed Indonesian staff are the bedrock of all we do. Please donate to support our vital work, keeping forests standing and orangutans in the wild.

Jakir, Patrol Manager Orangutan Foundation

Jakir - Patrol Manager, Orangutan Foundation

My role as Patrol Manager is to supervise the 12 staff who occupy our eight guard posts, ensuring that they are well maintained and operated, so that the wildlife reserves are protected from illegal activities, such as logging, mining, hunting and fishing.

It’s a very important role and I most of all I love the interaction with the local community in the field. Sometimes ignorance is the reason for illegal activities, and we tell people what we are doing so they also understand why we are protecting the forest.

But the biggest challenge is facing people who deliberately do illegal activities. We have faced threats and bribes, but some people who were previously involved in illegal forestry now give us information on illegal activities they encounter.

It’s very special to see some of the animals that we have saved roaming free in the forest in Lamandau.

Changeable hawk eagle released into the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve. Image© Orangutan Foundation.

When I first met Ashley, the Director of the Orangutan Foundation, I didn’t understand why she talked so much about protecting the forest and sacrificed so much of her own time for this. But a long time afterwards I saw some villages submerged by flooding and I realised why protecting the forest is so important.

Jakir - Patrol Manager, with Ashley Leiman OBE - Director, Orangutan Foundation

My hope is that the forest will always be alive and awake, so that my grandchildren can see and feel the coolness of this forest.

Written by Anna Levin, this interview was featured in our latest member's newsletter, Red Ape, Autumn 2017.

By donating £16.50 a month you can become a Guardian of the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve and support the protection of over 150,000 acres of tropical forest habitat. Click here to find out more.


Why Orangutan Foundation needs your support, more than ever.

If you are a member or supporter you will already know that our priority is protecting orangutan habitat. If we keep forests standing we can ensure orangutans stay in the wild (see video below of wild male). In the past few months our committed Indonesian staff, working on the front-line of conservation, have successfully:

  • Detected and prevented illegal activities within two protected areas, home to thousands of Bornean orangutans and many other critically endangered or threatened species.

  • Prevented the spread of fires to the Lamandau Wildllife Reserve, home to an estimated 500 Bornean orangutans.

  • Nurtured tens of thousands of tree saplings and planted in degraded forest areas of Tanjung Puting National Park and the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve.

  • Trained our staff and community to prepare for and tackle fires

  • Engaged with the Indonesian government and companies to implement best forest management in unprotected orangutan habitat.

We do all this so that wild orangutans, like the one below, stay wild.

We need your help to continue doing this. If you haven’t already, please consider setting up a regular donation click here to support our vital work. Please also help by sharing this blog post.

Thank you,

From Orangutan Foundation - A future for orangutans, forests and people.

'Last Tree Standing'

At 5pm on the 4th of February, we received a moving and poignant photograph from the OF-UK rescue teams in Indonesia.


This orangutan was immediately visible, seen clinging to the top of a tall thin and burnt tree - the only tree in sight in an area overtaken by oil-palm.


A heart-breaking image like this perfectly sums up the extent of the devastation caused by habitat destruction in Indonesian Borneo. Rainforest habitat is rapidly dwindling, leaving orangutans to search for shelter on community land or in sparse and fragmented areas of forest. Fortunately this 15-year-old female was one of the lucky few: found, rescued and soon to be released.


The female orangutan, now named Narti, was examined by the OF-UK vet, Dr Wawan, and thought to have eaten palm-shoots as there was no other food around. The shoots from oil-palm plants are not healthy food for orangutans, and are a struggle to digest. Luckily after medication and given time being fed the right foods, Narti will be safely released back into orangutan habitat within the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve.


 Help us to provide stranded orangutans with a new and safe home: http://www.orangutan.org.uk/how-to-help

Share the hashtag #LastTreeStanding to help us build awareness for habitat destruction in Indonesia!

The True Guardians of the Forest

On the 30th April, Foundation staff ran their routine patrols. As most of you know, habitat protection is a core priority for the Orangutan Foundation: if the forests are not safe, neither are the orangutans. The use of guard posts and patrols to protect Tanjung Puting National Park and the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve from illegal logging, farming, mining and hunting has so far been extremely successful. Thus after hearing new reports of illegal logging taking place in Pos Rasau, Foundation staff hastily set out in a speedboat with 7 people from the BKSDA and the Department of Forestry, as well as 2 police officers.

Here they discovered the remnants of illegal logging activities.

Pic 1

pic 8


Though the perpetrators were nowhere to be seen, they had left behind 12 planks of timber, and 12 types of wood varnish. In a nearby location, many more planks of timber were found, as well as the personal cooking supplies of the loggers, who had again evaded being caught by our patrols.

Yet while on the river towards Mangkung, our patrols found a group of people loading more planks of wood onto their boat.

pic 7

When they pulled up on site, the police and the Department of Forestry employees were able to order the workers to end their illegal logging in this location. Our patrols will continue to monitor this area in the weeks to come to ensure this order is taken seriously.

The Foundation is confident that thanks to our use of patrols, cases of illegal logging can be brought to an end before escalating any further in these critical areas of orangutan forest.


Palm oil - what does it mean on the ground? Best next stepping stones...

Recently the Ashley Leiman (Director and Trustee, Orangutan Foundation) presented a well received talk, entitled "Palm Oil Development and Biodiversity Conservation". Here is the message in brief, addressing the ever popular and confusing topic of Palm Oil within modern day orangutan and habitat conservation...

Some facts and figures...

  • Indonesia is now the world’s largest producer of palm oil, and together with Malaysia, they produce over 80% of the world’s palm oil.
  • This has brought major economic benefits to both countries. For example, according to CIFOR, in 2008, production of Crude Palm Oil (CPO) in Indonesia generated revenues of $ 12.4 billion dollars from foreign exchange exports and $ 1 billion dollars from export taxes;
  • whilst employment generated directly by the palm oil industry in Indonesia in 2013 was estimated to be 3.2 million people.

Despite these major economic benefits, NGO’s have questioned the environmental and health costs involved. Of the 8 million hectares that are currently under oil palm in Indonesia, CIFOR estimated that at least half has been developed directly by deforestation.

The Indonesian Government hopes to expand the area under oil palm by an additional 4 million hectares so that the current production of CPO can be doubled to 40 million tons annually by 2020. This raises the questions: where will the additional 4 million hectares come from ?

Addressing the biodiversity of primary forests... Compared to oil palm plantations, how much biodiversity exists in primary forests? What options are available as a source of land to develop new areas for oil palm?

Koh & Wilcove (2008) showed that the number of species of birds and butterflies that were recorded in four locations... This shows that if primary forest is converted to oil palm, there is a 77% loss in forest birds, and an 83% loss in forest butterflies. It also shows that the 30-year old selectively-logged forest had largely recovered, to the extent that it contained 84% of the forest birds found in the primary forest.

So, secondary forests DO have the potential to recover all of the original biodiversity of their former primary condition... A review of studies covering a wider range of species by Fitzherbert and Danielsen have supported these results. They found an average of just 15 - 23% of forest species in oil palm.

From the biodiversity perspective, we can conclude that if new oil palm developments were to involve clear-felling existing primary or secondary forests to convert the land ready for planting with oil palm, this would result in devastation for the existing biodiversity, with an 80-85% loss of forest species.

What options are available? Where could there be a source of land to develop new oil palm plantations that do not destroy existing forest?

There is mounting evidence to show that there is already sufficient degraded ‘low-carbon’ lands that are suitable for oil palm, instead of converting existing forests. The World Resources Institute (WRI) has recently launched an initiative to map degraded lands in Indonesia. So far, WRI has identified more than 14 million hectares of such degraded lands in Kalimantan that may be suitable for oil palm production. Not all of this would eventually become productive, however, as some local communities may have alternative proposals.

In theory an area of State Forest Land that is released by the Ministry of Forestry for conversion to oil palm should not normally contain any forest, but the situation in practice is clearly different.

Many plantation companies report that they do have significant areas of forests within the boundaries of their concession. Taken together, these small islands of high biodiversity value provide an important compliment to the State’s total conservation land.

Speaking to people living and working in these areas...

There is a growing conflict developing between orangutans and humans in and around oil palm. This is especially so in Kalimantan. Orangutans that have had their forest home destroyed are often found in remnant forest patches nearby, from where they enter cultivated areas and are labelled as pests. There have been some well-documented cases recently of workers from plantations companies or local communities killing orangutans.

Rescue orangutans from plantations and surrounding forest patches, although fantastic to remove individuals from degraded areas, also raises some problems. Primarily, for example, that given the massive scale of conversion of natural forests in Kalimantan to oil palm or other land-use development, there are not enough suitable forests that can take such an exodus of captured orangutans.

There are solutions...

  1.  We need to change the perception of public and private sector stakeholders that orangutans they encounter outside conservation forests should be captured and sent to rehabilitation centres or relocated elsewhere;
  2. Plantation companies need to be persuaded to set aside high biodiversity forests within their concessions as locally protected conservation areas. This is allowed under current Government regulations, and hence compliant with ISPO criteria for certification.
  3. We need to raise awareness that there are alternative practical solutions, especially on how to deal with crop-raiding cases.  Guidelines on this have been produced by a team from BOS-Indonesia, WWF-Indonesia and UNAS in 2007.

The Orangutan Foundation held a multi-stakeholder workshop. An important resolution was passed in which the participants committed to protect the orangutans within their concession and to exchange best practice experiences on mitigating conflicts with orangutans. To do this, the oil palm companies were urged to ensure they have a conservation plan to properly manage the biodiversity found in the remaining forests within their concession. This plan should be in accordance with the stipulations in the original environmental impact assessment (AMDAL) that should have been conducted before the Permit for Plantation was issued.

Palm oil certification on paper...

Great hope had also been invested in the RSPO as a means of producing palm oil without destruction of rainforests. Regrettably, the palm oil industry has not yet stepped up to the mark to achieve a majority of certified CPO, as currently only 15% of the CPO market comes from certified sources. In addition, there is growing concern that the RSPO’s certification process is not as rigorous as it should be.

This has prompted the establishment of a new group called the Palm Oil Innovation Group; whilst Greenpeace has urged progressive companies to go beyond the standards set by RSPO in their practices. It would be commendable, therefore, if the ISPO criteria included a ban on converting forests and had a stringent certification process.


We hope the palm oil industry would consider using existing degraded low-carbon lands in Kalimantan, which have been identified as suitable for oil palm plantation, as this would provide an alternative land source for the industry in line with the Indonesian Government’s CPO target for 2020. Picture6

We believe this can this be achieved without further destruction of these magnificent rainforests and the spectacular biodiversity they contain. Help us via donating or finding out more via asking us anything at info@orangutan.org. 







Conservation in unprotected areas -reply to comments

Thank you to everyone who has recently left comments, especially about Brian and Rosa’s release – they do mean a lot to our staff (Rosa, lovely to hear from you and of course the orangutan Rosa was named after you. Rosa was our vet who previously work at the orangutan care centre). I’d like to respond to Louis McCarten, who left a comment about Belantikan’s protection - 'I think it is time to press the Indonesian government to provide actual legal protection to the Belantikan rain forest. And quickly. I do not see a future for the biodiversity here if this is not attempted (and financed). Why not a Belantikan National Park? Better that than a Belantikan alan alang wasteland (or yet another oil palm plantation the world doesn’t need–which of course is what is the world is going to get if we don’t do something to save the Belantikan). 

Your point about Belantikan needing protection is entirely reasonable and this is why we are working in this area. Belantikan has the world’s largest population of orangutans outside of a protected area and it is important for many other ecological reasons.  However, the situation in Belantikan it isn’t black and white - there are many factors to consider when deciding how best to protect a high conservation value forest area. Designating the forests as a national park isn’t the answer either. We must deal with the reasons behind deforestation otherwise they will persist despite the change in land status, as we have witnessed in other Indonesian national parks.  

A lot of the land is community owned, adat and so rightfully it is the local people who make the decisions about their land.  The logging concessions are legal and still have many years left before they expire. However, rather than seeing these as only negative factors we need to find a way to work together.   

A co-operative management approach, where all the stakeholders (local communities, logging concessions, government) are recognised, have a voice and are taken notice of is one of our aims. The Belantikan Conservation Programme, funded by the United Nations Environment Programme – Great Ape Survival Partnership, began in 2005 and it is attempting to engage and work with all the stakeholders of Belantikan.   

One of our objectives is to see more of the area designated as protected forests (not national park) therefore maintaining key ecosystem functions, such as watersheds.  We are also helping the local communities, who are highly dependent on the forests, to earn a living that is ecologically and economically viable.  The communities have to make vital decisions about their land (whether to sell to oil palm companies, lease to timber concessions, how to farm it) and through increased education and awareness we can help them to understand the future implications of their decisions.

It is terribly depressing that you have to drive for 6 hours through uninterrupted oil palm plantations before you reach the forests and it is upsetting to think of all the wildlife that has been lost.  Our work in Belantikan is still in it infancy and we are working to set strong foundations for what we hope will be a future for these forests, its village communities and the wildlife. However, the ultimately responsibility lies with the Indonesian government and it will be to their detriment, as well as everybody else’s, if they fail to make the right choices. 

Thank you,

Cathy - Orangutan Foundation (UK office)

The water’s getting lower…

During September (dry season) the Sekonyer river, which flows through Tanjung Puting National Park (Central Kalimantan Indonesian Borneo) was very low. We are also noticing that the low tides, year on year, are getting worse. Some people believe the root cause of the low tide are illegal logging and illegal mining.  River in dry season

Tanjung Puting National Park. Photo by Fajar Dewanto, Orangutan Foundation International 

When fire fighters from Tanjung Puting National Park (BTNTP), Central Kalimantan Agency for Conservation of Natural Resources (BKSDA Kalteng), Orangutan Foundation, Orangutan Foundation International, Friends of National Park Foundation tried to damped the forest fires in park the extreme low tide prevented the speed boat from getting through.

River in dry season

Tanjung Puting National Park. Photo by Fajar Dewanto, Orangutan Foundation International

 River in dry season

Water level on the jetty of Pondok Ambung Tropical Forest Research Station. Photo by Devis, Orangutan Foundation

This is a worrying trend. Thankfully, October has had rain reducing the fire risk.

Thank you,

Hudi Dewe

Programme Co-ordinator Orangutan Foundation

Who patrols the logging concessions?

A quick answer to Sheryl's question about David Hagan's blog Vounteering in Belantikan - Morning Commute , “Are there police patrolling this logging concession? Is there no plan in place to replant trees to rebuild the forest?”. Logging concessionaires have police on check points on access routes into their concessions, because illegal logging isn't just a problem for the National Parks, it occurs in many forms. The police, however, only monitor local people who try to extract trees – they are on the side of the concessionaire. It is the Forestry Department who monitor the activities of the concessionaires. The operator in Belantikan seems reasonably respectful of the law. In other areas the ‘legal’ loggers are less responsible.

Personally, I think our partners Yayorin (www.yayorin.org), a local Indonesian NGO, deserve big credit for the behaviour of the concessionaire in Belantikan. By simply being there, they are helping to keep everyone on the straight and narrow. As for replanting, there is a reforestation program but one hopes the forest there will recover on its own. The soils are more fertile than those we have in the lowlands and there should still be a crop of regenerating young trees left behind.

Volunteering in Belantikan - A Dayak Perspective

During our time in Belantikan we were also fortunate enough to have the opportunity to have some long conversations with some of the older villagers about their way of life. We visited the ladang of Pak Taryom outside the village of Nanga Matu, to see the new crops he is cultivating with Yayorin’s help and find out how their new methods are bringing benefits to the area. Pak Taryom

Pak Taryom in his ladang near Nanga Matu, cultivation here has been much changed with Yayorin's help

Pak Taryom also explained to us about the traditions and ceremonies of the Dayak people. His brother, Pak Maju, is the last man of Nanga Matu refusing to convert to one of the five state approved faiths of Indonesia and still clinging to Kaharingan – the traditional Dayak religion. He is also the father of Yayorin’s cook Ani, the youngest of his seven daughters.

Pak Maju lives outside Nanga Matu and, on our last day in Belantikan, we went to visit him at his ladang tucked away inside the forest. He’s 58 years old and still working in the fields. We found him sat under a tarpaulin sheet in the centre of his ladang, a thin line of smoke twisting to the sky from the fire he was sitting by chewing tobacco rolled in leaves, a rifle and a long knife by his side. I got a little perturbed at one stage during our conversation when he turned to me and mimed pulling off my head and drew his knife. Although it turned out, via translation, that he was just explaining that when a Dayak is angry they can pull off an enemy’s head with their bare hands without recourse to a blade.

Pak Maju

Pak Maju - Nanga Matu's last adherent of the Kaharingan religion in his ladang

Pak Maju also told us how the villagers of Nanga Matu and Bintang Mengalih still come to see him and ask him to summon the spirits to grant their wishes. Nevertheless, it seemed to me that he could accept the end of the Kaharingan culture, religion being in his mind a matter of personal choice. He could not, however, accept the destruction of the forest. When we asked him what he thought of it he told us that the balance of life has been upset and ‘when the trees and the hills are all gone [to logging and mining] the people will all die.’. The world around Pak Maju is changing so fast that his fears for the forest, and everything that lives within it, could be realised within his lifetime.

We left Belantikan full of great memories. The work of the Orangutan Foundation, Yayorin and the local communities to protect this area for the benefit of people, orangutans and the forest continues.

Thank you,


Volunteering in Belantikan - The Morning Commute

Its 6:30 on the 3rd December and we’re on our morning commute to work. Our boat is cutting its way through the rapids of the river and we’re on the look out for crocodiles lurking on the banks. morning commute - belantikan

Morning commute - the rapid at Nanga Matu the starting point for the morning commute to work!

On the river - Belantikan

On the river - mist over the Belantikan river on the early morning journey to work.

On this early morning a mist still hangs over the top of the forest-covered hills on either side of the river. All around us the forest still thrives, providing sufficient sustenance for both the huge range of wildlife and the small village communities that have made this beautiful corner of Kalimantan their home. We are on the way to teach in one of these villages, Kahingai, and it’s the most incredible commute to work I could ever imagine, but sad too to think what this might be like in five years time if the fate of the forest here follows much of the rest of Kalimantan.

Our journey up to Belantikan from Pangkalan Bun, one month ago, showed us what the future might hold for the forest here. Passing us on the road heading back to town were the biggest trees I’ve ever seen, all stacked up two by two on the trucks that filed past in a long procession. Further piles of enormous dead trunks, neatly stripped of all unnecessary leaves and branches, lay by the side of the road awaiting transportation.

Logging concession - destruction of the forest on the road to Belantikan

Logging concession - destruction of the forest on the road to Belantikan

Rampant logging was only part of the problem; most of the journey out was through oil palm plantations, with the neat ranks of oil palm advancing into the former territory of the wild forest. The new plantation is a parody of the original forest, providing no home to the orangutan or other animals, and when the planters have finished they leave a land degraded that can never become forest again. If Borneo was once a Garden of Eden then what has been done to the trees here makes stealing a bit of fruit look very innocent indeed.

oil palm plantations en route to Belantikan

Oil Palm Plantations on the way to Belantikan (Photo: Orangutan Foundation)

We were fortunate enough on our journey up to Belantikan to have an unscheduled overnight stop off in a richer part of the jungle when our van, swerving to avoid a fallen tree, got stuck in the mud.

Van stuck in ditch

Our accomodation for a night in the jungle, a van stuck in a ditch.

The accommodation, on the back seat of a van sunken on one side into a deep muddy ditch, wasn’t the most comfortable, but it was amazing to wake up with the dawn to a chorus of gibbons in the trees overhead. We were also lucky enough to see a deer flash across our path to disappear into the trees on the other side of the road. We were still in the territory of the logging concession that envelops Belantikan, but in a relatively untouched part of the forest. A well-policed logging concession can actually be considered the lesser of three evils, and there are fears of what might happen to Belantikan when the concession expires in 2012 if the twin terrors of illegal logging and palm oil move in en masse. It raises the question, what will be left when the children we are teaching today have grown up?

Volunteering in Belantikan

The Belantikan Hulu ecosystem in Central Kalimantan is a priority conservation area for Orangutan Foundation and their partner Yayorin. The still surviving dense forest there is home to an incredible diversity of species, including the largest population of wild orangutans outside of a protected area. Belantikan Conservation Programme focuses on both researching and cataloguing the wildlife of the area and working with the local communities to develop ways to maintain their traditional lifestyles without having a detrimental impact on the forest ecosystem. As part of Yayorin’s capacity building educational programme Catherine Burns and myself, former Orangutan Foundation volunteers, travelled to Belantikan to work with Yayorin as English teachers in the schools of the villages of Nanga Matu, Kahingai and Bintang Mengalih. Orangutan Foundation invited me to blog about our time there and the ongoing struggle to save this precious part of the Borneo forest. You can read my account of our experience over the next week.


David Hagan

Visiting Orangutan Foundation Programmes

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.

Belantikan Forest

Belantikan Forest

Belantikan Forest

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 plantations en route to Belantikan

oil palm plantations en route to Belantikan

oil palm plantations en route to Belantikan

Oil Palm Plantation

logging in the Belantikan

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

What to do with illegal logs?

Dear Sherri Your point about using illegally felled wood is a good one and is something we have debated at length. There are essentially three options when dealing with illegal loggers:

1. Evict them and thus the fallen wood is left behind 2. Evict them and render the wood useless by sawing it into unusable pieces that can't be used. 3. Arrest and process the loggers. After their trial the timber, which is classed as evidence, can then be auctioned.

Option three is by far and away the best. Wood bought at a Police auction is transparently 'clean' and could be used for a good purpose. Unfortunately, this option requires full police involvement and happens infrequently. Our staff have general powers of "citizens arrest" but that isn't enough. The Police really need to be there at the time of the arrest but, not un-understandably, they are frequently reluctant to press charges against small time loggers who, after all, are just local people. Also, the wood needs to be sold, not given away, as the Police need the proceeds to cover the cost of the trial.

logging raft

What we find - illegal logging raft

Option one is the worst, though this was the strategy we had to use when we were overwhelmed by illegal logging a few years ago. While the wood remains in the forest, someone will be tempted to get it out. Being hardwood the timber remains useable for years after being felled but there is no way either we or the Government could use it. It would appear we were either profiting from the illegal logger's efforts or, bizarrely, even robbing them. In the local context, where arguably double standards apply, we have to be whiter than white. We simply could not use illegal felled wood directly without someone holding it against us.

Illegal logs with police

Cutting wood into unuseable pieces

Cutting the wood into unusable pieces with police support

Option two is the method most commonly used. By chopping up the wood, the logger's efforts are in vain, resulting in a net loss to them (they hire the chain saws, borrow money for food and equipment etc.) However, without the teeth of a more severe punishment, some people may accept being evicted as a risk worth taking. That's where Jak comes in. He pushes the Police to at least hold the loggers in custody for some time, even if they do not actually end up in court. People here are scared of the Police and going to jail for an unspecified period of time is a terrifying prospect.

This year, we will be trying to fund large signboards along the major rivers, which the Police have requested, saying logging is forbidden and warning of the consequences. The Police always accompany us when the illegally felled wood is destroyed (see photo) but, when it comes to arresting people, they want to be in a position where it is 100% clear; there can be no excuses for logging in these places.

Do we admit the system is imperfect? Yes, completely. But is it about as good as we can get it at the present time? Probably.

Kind regards


Protection Works

The Orangutan Foundation’s protection of the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve and Tanjung Puting National Park has been extremely effective in reducing the level of illegal activities. Because of the protective measures that we have in place, in 2007, we recorded just 12 incidents of illegal logging in Lamandau. This may seem high but without our monitoring and constant presence illegal activities would, without a doubt, be much more prevalent. Jak LECP Patrol Manager

Jak the LECP Patrol Manager

Jak, short for Jakiruddin, Patrol Manager of Lamandau Ecosystem Conservation Partnership (LECP), who I have mentioned a few times in my blog, has only been working in this role since April 2007. Jak is excellent at his job. His strong leadership skills not only mean he is very effective at leading his team but he has also earned the respect and the confidence of external institutions that the Foundation works with, such as local Ministry of Forestry Department’s Office for the Conservation of Natural Resources.

Jak supervises the Foundation assistants who are assigned for the mobile patrols and to the guard posts, which are located on the rivers (the only way in and out of Lamandau, for us and illegal loggers). Every Thursday Jak brings logistical supplies and necessities to the network of guard posts for the week. He uses the VHF radio to organize his personnel in the different locations. It is fortunate that Jak is determined as he has received numerous threats from illegal loggers. Nevertheless, he continues to perform his task professionally and he will not step back just because of the intimidation.

Patrol Team on Klotok

The local Ministry of Forestry on patrol

Last year, on the Mangkong River, Jak and his team found a large quantity of illegal logs, an estimated one thousand cubic metres. The logs, which had been cut into approximate lengths of 2 to 4 metres, included the valuable timber species, Kempas and Meranti. The logs had already been made into a raft and were waiting to be floated away by the illegal loggers.

Illegal logs - Lamandau Wildlife Reserve

Police support for patrols

Photo above - the illegally cut logs made into a raft were found by Jak and his team

Police support - standing upon the rails made by the illegal loggers so that they can roll the logs out to the river.

The logs were destroyed by the local Ministry of Forestry and the Police in order to send a clear signal that illegal logging will not be tolerated. All access to the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve will continue to be guarded. The combined forces of the local Ministry of Forestry and LECP will add extra personnel for each of the current seven guard posts.

The mission of the Orangutan Foundation, and of Jak, is to see Lamandau totally free from illegal activities. With the participation of the surrounding communities we are determined to keep Lamandau's forest intact so it continues to provide a viable habitat for orangutans and a sustainable livelihood for the local people.

Lamandau Ecosystem Conservation Partnership (LECP)- community meeting

A few weeks ago the Orangutan Foundation participated in a community meeting held in Terantang village, which is located on the boundary of the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve. Stephen Brend at CM Terantang

Local communities have the right to the sustainable use of non-timber products from Lamandau. This meeting was organised to enable stakeholders to raise and discuss any problems or issues. The meeting was facilitated through the Lamandau Ecosystem Conservation Partnership (LECP).

Community Meeting of Terantang Village

Mr. Ade Suharso (Local Head of the Forestry Department’s Office for the Conservation of Natural Resources) and representatives from the police department and community leaders were invited to contribute to the meeting.

Terantang community meeting

The Chairman of Terantang Consultative Assembly, admitted the community, including himself, is aware that cutting-down trees, especially in the conservation area, is forbidden. However, he demanded that law enforcement needs to be fair. He said that police officers should not have arrested only minor illegal tree-cutters but also the illegal logging syndicates.

The Chairman of Kumpai Batu Bawah Consultative Assembly, has given his support to forest conservation. He added that some villages near Lamandau Reserve, such as Terantang and Mendawai have experienced flooding during the rainy season. He believes this is due to an environmental imbalance that is being created through deforestation of the local area. In the discussion representatives from Kumpai Batu Bawah Village requested the government do more to empower the local community in safeguarding the natural resources. A resident of the village asked for help so the local communities can be assisted to find alternative sources of earning income besides cutting-down trees in the forest.

Map of LWR and surrounding villages

All the speakers agreed to try and resolve the issues that had been exposed during the meeting. Help has been promised to develop the local community’s economy so that alternatives to illegal logging can be found. Brigadir Harto, from the police department assured villagers that the law enforcement officers will act professionally and fairly as demanded. Mr. Ade Suharso will  continue to collaborate with the community so this conservation area can be protected.


One of our readers recently wrote in saying “I would like to hear more about the logging practices and implication toward the rainforest.” We have no wish to lecture and have tried to make our blogs stories about life here in Borneo rather than fact-filled documents. However, because logging is such a big issue for us, we reasoned more people may be interested to learn more about the how and whys of logging. So here goes: Logging takes many forms and differs in the regions involved; there are good and bad examples of timber harvesting. We accept that controlled logging is a less damaging land use than mining or clear cutting for oil palm plantation establishment, and also that the potential for sustainable, low-impact forestry exists. For that to occur however, there needs to be:

1) A market for sustainably harvested wood

2) The timber company willing to manage its forest concession with long term goals in mind, not just short term profits.

3) Good law enforcement.

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has set up an international labelling scheme to oversee all these processes. All forest products carrying the FSC logo have been independently certified as coming from sustainably-managed forests that meet the internationally recognized “FSC Principles and Criteria of Forest Stewardship” which include environmental and social responsibility. Sadly, FSC forests are few and far between – there are none in Central Kalimantan where we are based and only five forest areas, in the whole of Indonesia, have certification.

In most places where logging occurs, the largest trees, trees on which orangutans and other wildlife depend, are removed. As each tree falls it flattens others. Roads and camps do further damage. And that’s in a legal logging concession!

An estimated 73-88 % of all timber logged in Indonesia is illegal. With Asian, European and North American markets being the major recipients of illegally logged wood products . Illegal logging occurs everywhere, it is indiscriminate and is a perennial problem for Indonesian forest managers. A survey in the year 2000 found illegal logging inside all of Indonesia’s national parks.

The illegal logging that the Orangutan Foundation has experienced follows a process where an area of forest is surveyed for valuable trees. This is known as "cruising". Once a site with good potential is selected, teams of men are sent in. They establish a camp and begin felling the trees identified on the survey. The fallen trees are cut into logs of approximately 4m lengths.

To extract the logs, many kilometres of railways are built, each one using hundreds of trees and breaking the forest canopy. The logs are moved down wooden railways to a river, stream or canal (illegal logging canals drain peat swamps, drastically increasing the risk of fire) where they are floated to a larger river. Once the logs reach a large river they are joined together and towed to market behind boats. Sometimes, if there is dry ground, the logs are lifted straight into trucks and driven away. Once at a port or large town, a 'buyer' or dealer usually purchases the logs before processing them. He will pay off the loggers on the basis of species type and volume. Valuable timber species will be loaded onto ships or barges for exporting outside of the province and other less valuable timber trees are used locally, for instance in house construction. Logging barons have made millions of dollars from illegal logging.

Guard post

Guard post in Tanjung Puting National Park

I am proud to say the Orangutan Foundation has had great success in tackling illegal logging and the key to this has been the building of guard posts on rivers. These posts deny loggers access to the rivers which are used to float the logs out – if you can stop people getting in, you can stop the wood coming out. The posts also act as bases from where we can patrol a much larger area of forest.

We are aware the problem will never go away entirely because the trees are so valuable. The temptation to log will always be there. We have rangers in our network of guard posts monitoring the reserves to prevent illegal activities 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It is expensive and labour intensive, but it works and if this is what it takes to save the forest and orangutans then this is what will shall continue to do.

The Last stand of the orangutan - State of emergency: Illegal logging, fire and palm oil in Indonesia's national parks. Is an interesting and informative report by UNEP and is well worth having a look at.

Sorry for the lack of photos - here's a few to lighten this post!


Kusasi adult male orangutan TPNP

Infant orangutan high in tree