Guard posts and patrols

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.


Now it's New Year, we look back with confidence, knowing that we have made a difference...

The Foundation works in three areas of critical orangutan habitat. We extend the scope of our achievements by patrolling an area almost as large as the land area of Singapore. Our strategically located guard posts are therefore vital. We have been able to rescue more and more orangutans whose lives were in imminent danger. 75% of all orangutans live outside protected areas, so with our partners, we launched a campaign to collaborate with 18 oil palm companies for the protection of orangutans within the forests of their companies concessions and surrounding areas.A new born infant rides on their mother’s back.

  • In 2014, the Foundation translocated 17 orangutans into the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve.
  • Torup and Kotim were rescued from community land and both are now in the ‘Soft Release’ programme, learning skills for an independent life in the wild.
  • 2014 saw the birth of two infants, and two more orangutans are due to give birth in mid 2015.
  • An exciting new initiative was the installation of camera traps in Pondok Ambung, Tanjung Puting National Park and Belantikan Arut. Without these camera traps, we would of never have had sightings of clouded leopards, one of the most elusive species of the tropical forest.

Camera trap captures a clouded leopard.

  • The Volunteer Programme once again proved its worth, by renovating a Guard Post on a vulnerable river in the south of Tanjung Puting National Park.
  • An important research project is the Population and distribution of the endangered banteng (wild ox), found in the Belantikan region. This is critical to the banteng’s future status.

Our teams bravely fight fires, the blaze reoccurring every dry season.

  •  Thanks to the diligence of the Foundation staff, forest fires (an annual problem) were quickly identified and isolated, which prevented further areas of the forest from being burnt.

Thank you to all - your support really does make a difference and the orangutan foundation could not have achieved any the above without your help. A very happy New Year.

A welcome end to the dry season...

Foundation staff have welcomed the end to the prolonged dry season, more than three months. During this time, it was very difficult to reach Camps and Guard Posts with food and logistics. In spite of the low rivers and logs blocking access, staff were still able to get supplies to the camps and guard posts, even if it sometimes took them 6 - 7 hours, rather than the normal 2 - 3. Even under these difficult conditions, the staff carried out their work with dedication and good humor. The dry season is also the reason behind the fires that occur annually - this year they were especially severe. For the future, the Foundation staff need to be prepared by creating more bore holes and providing extra fire fighting equipment. It is only through these measures that we are able to control the fires and to prevent any further destruction to the forest and threats to the wildlife.

Thank you to all our dedicated staff in the field.


Teguh 31.10.11 1

Teguh 31.10.11 3


getting up river - dry season

moving logs - dry season


Birds and biodiversity for the Orangutan Foundation team!

The core of the Orangutan Foundation’s work lies in habitat protection. One way that the Orangutan Foundation are currently protecting orangutan habitat is via supporting guard posts. Guard posts located in vulnerable areas, from which the Foundation’s staff patrol the near by area for any illegal activities or unregulated human presence. The Orangutan Foundation currently supports two guard posts within the Tanjung Puting National Park and four guard posts within the Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve.

The large Lamandau reserve not only protects the area in general but also specific ecological and environmental features within the area. One particular guard post – named Danau Burung, is in a very remote area. Our staff sometimes then travel even further – another 5km by motorbike and 3km walking to reach a specific, important location – the lake “Danau Burung” or literally “Lake bird”! The guard post took its name from this important ecological site – here we learn more about why sites like this are so important…


Lakes such as this are vital for the surrounding wildlife, offering an oasis in a very variable habitat. The lake is an important rest site for birds during their long annual migrations. OF’s team recently traveled from the guard post to check up on the lake. When they finally arrived at the lake, a fantastic site awaited them.




Lakes such as this are vital for the surrounding wildlife, offering an oasis in a very variable habitat. The lake is an important rest site for birds during their long annual migrations. OF’s team recently travelled from the guard post to check up on the lake. When they finally arrived at the lake, a fantastic site awaited them. These curious and dubious birds are great egrets- Egretta alba. The nest has three fast growing chicks and the two parents are still hanging around. 

The Great Egret is partially migratory, with birds in the north moving south to avoid cold winters. The species breeds in colonies and prefers to breed in trees which are close to large lakes that have reed beds or inside extensive wetlands. Evidently, this family are using theDanauBurungLakeas it is perfectly suited to their ecology. It’s fantastic for the Foundation to see bird species such as these up close, especially when it gives an insight into their breeding behaviour. These photos were taken in May this year, giving a good reference point for the seasonality of this species migration and breeding.

When the newborns were first found, they were still pristine white eggs. The fact that a mating adult pair use this lake as a nesting site reinforces how pristine and protected this area is – they feel safe enough to nest there. The Great Egret feeds in shallow water or on land, feeding on fish, frogs, small mammals, and the odd small reptiles and insects if needed.

Now the eggs have hatched and the chicks grown through a pink, bald stage into a white fluffy stage - we hope to see more of these individuals as they grown and prepare to fly the nest!

A big thank you!

We are delighted to announce that we have met our Big Give target of £15,000. Thank you to everyone who donated so swiftly this morning - once again, we are overwhelmed by the response and generosity of our supporters. Our Habitat Protection Project will support the running of our guard posts and patrols in two areas of critical orangutan habitat -Tanjung Puting National Park and Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve in Indonesian Borneo. These are ongoing costs but ones the we have to meet. If forests aren't safe, neither are orangutans.

If you didn't have a chance to donate this morning but would still like to then please donate via our website (click here to donate).

A big thank you from everybody at Orangutan Foundation

New baby orangutan born in Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve

Dr Fikri, our vet, gave us a lovely surprise when he reported about the birth of an orangutan in the Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve, in March.

The mother orangutan, Tiffany, was observed at  Camp JL, an orangutan release camp run by the Orangutan Foundation.  Staff tried to determine the sex of the new born but Tiffany was very protective of her son and fled when approached by field staff.  On one occasion the staff managed to see that the sex of the baby is male.  Up to now both Tiffany and her new baby are healthy and well.

Enjoy the pics!

Please help us to keep these orangutans save by supporting our Habitat Protection Guard Post Appeal

Young orangutan rescued

This post comes from our Indonesian vet, Dr Fikri. On 18th April staff from the Indonesian Government’s Agency for the Conservation of Natural Resources (BKSDA SKW II) Pangkalan Bun office informed us that an infant orangutan (± 1 year) was at their Sampit office.

Dr Fikri and the rescue team drove the 5 hours to Sampit, along the dusty and pothole-ridden road.  After arriving at the Sampit office the team were shown the orangutan which was being kept in a holding cage. When approached, the orangutan was anxious and frightened and frequently “kiss squeaked” (the sound orangutans make when they are distressed).

Photo 1Orangutan in The Office BKSDA Sampit Area

Photo 2. Cage being lifted into Orangutan Foundation pick-up truck for the long jorney back to Pangkalan Bun.


The BKSDA staff said the orangutan was female and came from the community.  It was found in a public-owned rubber plantation near Patai village of Cempaga Hulu District, East Kotawaringin.  Bordering the rubber plantation was an oil palm plantation, PT. Tunas Agro Subur Kencana III.

Orangutan at the Office of BKSDA Pangkalan Bun

Dr Fikri examined the orangutan once back at the BKSDA office in Pangkalan Bun. After observing the orangutan we estimated her to be ± 3-5 years old, she was healthy and definitely still very wild!


 Examination by Dr Fikri finds her to be in good health.

On 23 April, the orangutan was taken from the BKSDA office to Camp Siswoyo in the Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve.

Journey to the Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve. First by truck and then by boat (below).


Arriving at Camp Siswoyo in the Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve

Transfer to holding cage

The orangutan will be observed and gradually released into the forest. We hope because she is still very wild at heart that she will have no problems coping by herself in the wild. We hope to bring you more news soon.

Please support our Habitat Protection appeal to keep these orangutans safe.

Reforesting Orangutan Wildlife Reserve

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

Getting supplies to Pos Danau Burung

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

Plant Nursery at Lamandau Wildlife Reserve

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

Nursery Lamandau Wildlife Reserve

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

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

Thank you,


Fire Fighting - Just a Duty or Dedication?

Last week the Central Kalimantan Agency for Conservation of Natural Resources (BKSDA) held motivation training sessions for their Forest Fire Brigade. They asked Orangutan Foundation staff to facilitate with this after the dedication they showed when tackling the recent fires that broke out in Sungai Lamandau Wildlife Reserve. Forest Fire Fighting Award Ceremony

Pak Eko Novi, the Head of BKSDA SKW II Kalimantan Tengah, awarded a Manggala Agni (Forest Fire Brigade) Pin, to our staff at Danau Burung Post (Bird Lake Guard Post) because of their dedication and participation in tackling the fires.

Isam represented other KPEL (Partnership for Local Economic Development) staff (Sias, Amat, Fendy, Aris dan Jakir) at the award ceremony. It is hoped the award will help motivate other staff, BKSDA staff and the local community to have more responsibility and participation concerning the conservation of the Sungai Lamandau Wildlife Reserve.

At last week's training session we aimed to build team cohesion and lift the spirits of the Forest Fire Brigade. We hope it will instill a sense of honour and the brigade will feel proud about their duties and their job. Fire fighting is not just a “job” but is “dedication” for nature conservation.

Motivation and team Building Session

Pak Hudi leading the motivation and team building session.

The team building and motivation sessions included various games:

Carry a Bomb. Each team must carry a bottle (as a bomb) with limited tools from one place to a target. The aim is to encourage teamwork, strategy, and role distribution within the team.

Team building exercise

Courier. Each team must deliver a message (a stick) from one place to another place only using their neck’s. This game has aim to build team work, strategy and the “quick think” response.

Team building exercise

O-O Game. A pair of participants must save themselves from plastic rope that binds their hands. This game has the aim to build problem solving strategy.

Thank you,

Pak Hudi

Programme Coordinator, Orangutan Foundation UK

Fire breakout near border of Wildlife Reserve

At the end of April, there was another fire breakout, near the Pos Danau Burung (or Bird Lake Post) that borders the western section of Sungai Lamandau Reserve. Map Lamandau Wildlife Reserve -Bird Lake Post

Map showing Bird Lake Post on the Reserve Border.

Thankfully, at that time, our Programme Coordinator, Pak Hudi, was visiting the area with the Section Head (II) of the Central Kalimantan Agency for Conservation of Natural Resources (BKSDA), Pak Eko Novi. Along with our ever-ready Patrol Manager, Pak Jak, they raced to assist our field staff at Pos Danau Burung.

Danau Burung (Bird Lake Post) Fire fighting Team.

Field staff from Pos Danau Burung who made up the fire-fighting team

Face to face with the fire wall

Face to face with the fire wall

Fire breakout - forest in the background

Trying to stop the fire - forest in the background

Fire breakout

Beating the fire

Caught unaware they had to grab whatever was at hand to beat the fire.

They slogged to beat out the fires for many hours under the hot sun. We appreciate the hard work of our field staff, whose primary role is to replant the western part of the Reserve but would not hesistate to switch roles as fire-fighters when needed.

Tears for nature Tears for nature - tired and emotional.

Pak Eko Novi was also very appreciative of our staff’s dedication that he organized a special ceremony for the field staff, in which he presented pins from the Fire-Fighting section (Manggala Agni) of BKSDA Section II. It was truly an honour, and much appreciated!

It does not stop there for our hard-working Programme Coordinator, Pak Hudi. Today (13th May), under a special invitation from Pak Eko Novi, he will be giving a team-building exercise for the Fire-fighting team of BKSDA Section II, Central Kalimantan.

Hopefully, we will have a post from Pak Hudi himself about this experience!



Programmes Manager

Orangutan gaining weight

Dr. Fikri, our new vet who works specifically for the released orangutans in Lamandau Wildlife Reserve, put orangutan Zidane on a special weight gain diet last month. We are happy to tell you that Zidane has gained 3 kg and he is getting stronger each day. Our on-going protection for Lamandau continues with regular patrols, and this month, the patrol team led by Pak Jak (Patrol Manager of Lamandau Ecosystem Conservation Partnership) installed billboards on all the Lamandau guard posts to help enforce no-burning in the Reserve. (This short update was sent by June Rubis, who is taking over from Stephen this month)

Matthew K, thanks as always for your monthly donation.

Many thanks,

Cathy - Orangutan Foundation

Camp Buluh - Orangutan Release Camp

Camp Buluh is one of six orangutan release camps in the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve. Since September 2006, 13 ex-captive orangutans have been reintroduced at Camp Buluh and three wild orangutans have been translocated from vulnerable situations outside the reserve. Omang -Adolecent Male Bornean Orangutan

Omang, one of the ex-captive adolescent male orangutans, seen regularly around Camp Buluh.

After the incident with Zidane (an update to follow soon) an orangutan holding cage has been built at Camp Buluh. This is necessary to allow the care and treatment of orangutans in Lamandau.

Camp Buluh - Orangutan Release Camp

Camp Buluh and the orangutan holding cage.

The future for the orangutans in Lamandau looks encouraging. The Forestry Department's involvement has increased and the reserve's protection has been strengthened. The new guard post, called “Bird Lake Post” that was constructed to prevent access to into the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve via the Buluh River became operational at the end of December. In 2008, only 3 cases of illegal logging were discovered, all outside of the reserve border. This is down from 2007 when 12 cases were identified in and around the reserve.

Map Lamandau Wildlife Reserve

Map showing Camp Buluh and the guard posts in Lamandau Wildlife Reserve

We are extremely grateful to the Australian Orangutan Project for their continued support in Lamandau.

A New Guard Post in the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve

After the orangutan Zidane was brought back to the Care Centre in such an awful condition (A very sick orangutan) we promised we would take action. The subsequent Forestry Police patrol along the Buluh River and the community meeting we organised did not unearth the culprit but would have left no one in any doubt that the matter was being taken seriously. New Guard Post October 2008


The next stage was to prevent access into the Reserve from the western side. Jak, our Patrol Manager, has organised the construction of a new post (photo above) which is well on its way. I went over to have a look at the site last week. Its location is strategic and we are confident mobile patrols from this post will prevent people illegally entering the Reserve.

My apologies for my infrequent posts over the last couple of weeks; I am still here but find myself running just to stand still!

Best wishes,


Are released orangutans really in the wild?

Bernadette thanks for your interest and yesterday’s question: Is the feeding site to ensure that the released orangutans can get food if they aren’t able to in the wild? I’d like to know more about how the release site will function? Is it a huge enclosure, or is it really the wild? Rehabilitated orangutans, released into the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve, are given supplementary feedings every day. This ensures they maintain their physical condition during the transition period from life at the Orangutan Care Centre & Quarantine (OCCQ) to life in the wild. The feedings also decrease potential competition with wild orangutans and they allow us to monitor the released individuals. Frequently, the only time they are seen is when they come in for food.

Orangutan in Lamandau

Orangutan in Lamandau

Orangutans in Lamandau (sorry the photos are so dark).

As for the question of how wild it is: it is definitely wild. The Lamandau Wildlife Reserve has no fences. It is 760km2 most of which is forested. As you can see from the attached map, our guard posts protect the buffer zone (between the Reserve and the Lamandau River) which adds to the area available to the orangutans.

Map Lamandau and Guard Posts

Just yesterday we counted six species of birds as we ate lunch on the jetty. During the time the volunteers were staying there they saw, red leaf-eating monkeys, proboscis monkeys, pig-tailed macaques (very rarely seen), a mouse deer and some snakes (admittedly the snakes were not so popular!).

They also saw leeches. However, let’s not be too hard on leeches as abundant leeches are a good indicator of a healthy mammal population; after all they do not exist just to prey on you and me. So even the leeches help answer your question. It is wild.



A Very Sick Orangutan

Two weeks ago we were all very shocked when Zidane (pronounced Gee – dan) was brought back from Camp Buluh in the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve to the Orangutan Care Centre & Quarantine. Not only did he have rampant diarrhoea, was emaciated, running a fever but, more worryingly, he had 16 air rifle pellets under his skin. We have never seen this before and therefore we knew we had to act immediately and sort out what had happened in Lamandau. Zidane at OCCQ September 2008

Zidane Sept 08

A very sick Zidane at the OCCQ

A Forestry Police patrol went out for three days to interview all the rubber-tappers working along the river. Yesterday, the Lamandau Camps Manager, Tigor organised a community meeting to which he brought along district Government representatives, the police and a doctor from the Health Department. We want everyone who lives or works inside the Reserve to take worming medicines to prevent more infections. However, as this is the holy month of Ramadan, when people are fasting, yesterday’s meeting was a socialisation exercise. Once Ramadan is over we will have another meeting when the doctor will distribute the medicine.

14 days on and Zidane’s condition is stable. For the first few days we did not think he would pull through. He was given two blood transfusions, from another orangutan at the Care Centre, was on a constant drip to keep his fluids up, and as far as his body would take it, was given worming and anti-dysentery medication. But every day that he manages to hold on gives us slightly more hope.

Having the individual feeding tyres for the orangutans will help us distribute their medicines more easily and will stop orangutans congregating on a feeding platform, therefore reducing the chance of infection – thank you very much to everyone who has donated so far. Please do consider donating so that we can implement this new feeding system throughout Lamandau.

New Feeding 2

New Tyre Feeding System.

Camp Buluh

Camp Buluh

We will also build another Guard Post on the western side of the Reserve, which will prevent access to the headwaters of the Buluh River.

Although I can’t promise Zidane will pull through, I will give our word that we will do everything possible to find out what happened and to prevent another orangutan suffering in the same way.

Thank you,


Sowing the seeds…

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

Map Lamandau

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

Ariel view

Aerial view of Post Prapat with the remnant forest behind.

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

Lady Di and infant

Lady Di and infant 2

Lady Di and infant 3

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

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

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

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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.

Working in Borneo

Wildlife Direct suggested I give you more information about my life working in conservation with orangutans, what it's like working as a conservationist, in the field, in Borneo compared with Africa. I will try to give you a better picture of what it is like working in Borneo, a "typical day" if you can call it that. Despite the impression you may have gathered from this blog, like many people in the world, I work in an office in the town of Pangkalan Bun and it feels like 90% of my time is devoted to emails and Excel spreadsheets. The Orangutan Foundation has a conscious policy of capacity building and investing in Indonesians, so I am the only expatriate employee. Indeed, I am the only westerner in town! I am responsible for project supervision and all English language communication, particularly reporting to donors. I have to make regular reports from the field to the overseas offices, disseminate information from those offices to the relevant people in Indonesia, and help with proposal writing and forward planning.

Naturally part of my job involves fundraising. I think like most field based people I get so convinced by the worth of the cause I struggle a bit to complete grant applications, especially those using buzz words, for example “Tell us about the multiplier effects of your planned project” (huh, we’re trying to multiply orangutans aren’t we?!) Crucially we have recently received large grants towards habitat protection work. For instance, the United Nations Environment Program with European Union funding supports our work in the Belantikan Hulu; this region contains the largest population of wild orangutans outside of a protected area. However, all of our orangutan rehabilitation work is funded from private donations and last year that cost over US$100,000. As the UK office has grown tired of telling me “Stephen, buying lottery tickets is not a sustainable fundraising strategy!”

The Orangutan Foundation office has a friendly relaxed atmosphere and is a lovely place to work from. There is a garden with a fish pond and mango, rambutan and banana trees, producing the most delicious fruit. The whole operations of the Foundation are co-ordinated from the office, we communicate by radio to all our field posts and my colleagues do a truly fantastic job. In the office there is Ully, the Office Manager; Astri, the Liaison Officer, who also helps me with this blog; Jak, the Patrol Manager; Teguh, the Guard Post Supervisor; Devis from Pondok Ambung and finally the Belantikan Conservation Programme team also work from the office. Tigor, who runs the Lamandau Rehabilitation Camps, works out of the Orangutan Care Centre and Quarantine facility (OCCQ). There are numerous powercuts in Pangkalan Bun and so those lucky enough to have a laptop, Jak, Asti and I, often giggle at the moans coming from the others when the power cuts out! When around the orangutans, or on patrol, we wear a uniform which helps the orangutans to recognise and distinguish between Foundation staff and other people who might pose a threat.

OF office PKB

Inside OF office PKB

Top photo - outside of the office. This photo -inside of the office

Teguh and I are the only Christians. The rest of the people in the office are Moslem & our field staff are a mix of Christian, Moslem and Dayak – which is useful as it means someone is always willing to work on one or other of the religious holidays. Jak and Teguh are married with two children each, Astri is married, Devis is too young, or so we tell him, and everyone is forever teasing Ully about when she’ll get married. However, given her IQ is about the twice that of the rest of us (probably combined) when the time comes, I have no doubt she’ll be the one doing the choosing.

Today was a fairly typical day: I was at the OCCQ just after 8 am, as I had to give the vets some darts (injectable syringes for their blow pipe) that have just been donated.

Orangutan at OCCQ

I also wanted to check on a female orangutan, Mumsie, who had been brought down from Lamandau suffering from suspected anaemia - blood loss possibly with malaria. Thankfully she is fine and, all being well, will be returned to the forest in a few days. I then went back to the office. For most of the day I continued writing up our 2007 Annual Report which, as it also has to be in Indonesian, Astri and I did together. The head of one of Tanjung Puting National Park’s management units stopped by to discuss plans for 2008. It was then back to my desk briefly before heading out in the afternoon with Jak to check on a new guard post we are building in Lamandau.

Guard post Gaja

River - lamandau

The new post site

This post, which will stop people using a river to enter the Reserve, is part funded by the Australian Orangutan Project and I need to update them on progress. We got back to town at 6.30pm and, after having fed myself, I am typing this at 8pm. I’ll stop soon!

Apart from us here in Indonesia, there is the UK Office without whose support none of this would be possible. I give them more problems than they deserve and still they continue to back us up 100%. For that I can not thank them often enough.

There are two other things that are probably worth saying about my work with orangutans; firstly, unlike just a few short years ago, the sense we have now is no longer of trying to stop orangutans from falling over the brink into extinction but in pulling them further away from the brink. Not everywhere – certainly not across their entire range – but in specific places we are well on the way to saving orangutans, and we should all feel good about that. Vigilance and on-going dedication is still needed; the fires of late 2006 threatened to undo all the gains we had made. Nevertheless, better to focus on the positives than the negatives.

Orangutan TPNP (Mark Fellows)

Orangutan in Tanjung Puting National Park (photo by Mark Fellows)

The second thing is that, partisan as I may be, the Orangutan Foundation is honest, and that is almost entirely due to the culture Ashley Leiman, the Orangutan Foundation Founder and Director, has established for the organisation. Of course, we’ll tell you our successes, but we’ll also be honest in saying when things don’t go well: in the middle of last year we managed to stop a palm-oil plantation from being established along Lamandau’s borders. But the year before, we failed to stop Tanjung Puting from losing some 5,000 + hectares.

In my blog I talk about my work with orangutans but it is not just saving orangutans. What is really great to think about is the incredible biodiversity (proboscis monkeys, gibbons, kingfishers and hornbills -I could go on and on!) found in their habitat that is also protected as a direct result of conserving a flagship species, the orangutan.

Going to great heights for orangutans!!

I think I wrote before that all Orangutan Foundation guard posts are equipped with solar power and radios. The solar power sets we buy locally are brilliant. The panel is made overseas but the battery, charger, cables and lights are all made ‘in country’. The battery should last three to five years and the lights as long. Setting up the system takes less than two hours and is literally as easy as wiring a plug. Indeed, one set was put up using nothing more than a pocket multi-tool! Solar Panels

Solar power set

Radios have been installed at the Orangutan Care Centre and Quarantine, the Foundation office in Pangkalan Bun, and in all the Tanjung Puting National Park and Lamandau Wildlife Reserve camps and guard posts, making a tight network that helps us to effectively monitor the protected forests and support both the people and, in case a vet needs to be called, the orangutans too. The Field Assistants have daily (and sometime hourly!) contact with the other camps and guard posts. The system is very robust, practical and sustainable.

Late last year, the Foundation refurbished TPNP’s guard post on the Buluh Besar River. The final task was installing the solar power and radio sets. Mr Teguh, the Post supervisor, and I went down there on the Foundation’s new “kelotok” (traditional motorised long-boat); a longer but much more pleasant journey than the one we had in the speedboat during Teguh’s look-see interview (see post: Wet & Wild and that's just getting to the guard posts).


Buluh Besar River - TPNP (note the radio mast in the background!)

The solar power set was installed quickly and easily on the afternoon we arrived. The night there was great too; playing cards with the Assistants, bathing in the river and watching proboscis monkeys on the river bank. The location is unbelievably scenic.

The problem was the next day’s job was nowhere near as much fun. A radio needs an antenna and the antenna needs to be up high. Frequently we put the antenna on top of a tree but, on the Buluh Besar, the National Park had previously installed a radio mast, which is naturally where the antenna had to go. The only question was who was going to climb up. The guys justified their selection of me on the basis of my being the only one without family!

SB radio mast

Things I do for orangutans!!