Blogpost by Steven Daud, Orangutan Foundation vet, in Central Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. Yesterday, 14 December 2016, we go by speedboat to the Camp Siswoyo and Camp Buluh, in Lamandu Wildlife Reserve, as part of our regular visits. First, we stopped at the Post Teringin Lama to check on a Brahminy kite, named Jack. He was obtained from citizens in Sampit. Jack came to us with many missing wing feathers so Jack cannot fly far away.
Because of that, we decided to put Jack at Guard Post Teringin Lama and the staff at the Post have responsibility of taking care of Jack. At first, Jack only at around the Post jetty, but now Jack seen already getting used to roost in the forest near the Post.
After Post Teringin Lama, we went to Release Camp Siswoyo for checking the latest condition of Bruno and Satria. Bruno is a Bornean sun bear and already in Camp Siswoyo since October and seemed to have a skin problem, but due to treatment it’s much better.
Satria is an orangutan undergoing soft release. Rescued in June and is about 2 and ½ years old and he is in a healthy condition and doing well. To stop infection by the parasite, I give anti-parasitic drugs to prevent transmission of disease, which I suspect comes from Bearded Pig.
Here is a video of two other young orangutans, Jessica and Timtom, in our soft-release programme, made by Azhari, our Orangutan Reintroduction manager.
Steven - Orangutan Foundation vet
Please support our work in returning these critically endangered orangutans and other wildlife species back to the wild, where they belong. Click to donate.
We recently received news from the field of a rescue which did not go as planned, but nevertheless resulted in success. Last week, Orangutan Foundation staff received reports from the local village of Pangkalan Lima of a sun bear trapped in a villager’s well. The smallest of the world’s eight living bear species, the Bornean sun bear is also the least studied, with little known about its biology or range.
Our vet first anaesthetised the bear in order for staff to be able to safely remove the bear without injury to either party. A net was used to lift the bear up from the well.
The Foundation vet took blood samples which were taken to test for diseases which may have left the bear vulnerable following release. Test results later showed the bear to be in good health.
When managing the rescue and translocation of wild animals there is always a degree of unpredictability as to how the animal itself will react. The bear was placed within a cage whilst still sedated ready for translocation into the forest nearby.
But after two hours, staff found the bear had escaped! It took a further two hours to successfully recapture the bear from BKSDA grounds, where it was swiftly moved to a stronger cage until its release.
Later that evening it was further transferred to a safer cage overnight, as staff were still worried he could bite his way through the second cage. The bear was clearly very wild and needed to return to the forest, and staff successfully released it the next day in camp Siswoyo in Lamandau Wildlife Reserve.
Foundation staff are encountering a rise in the number of animals in need of translocation as they come in increasing contact with growing human settlements. Make a donation to ensure the Foundation can continue to keep the surrounding protected areas free from human development so that animals we rescue such as this sun bear have forest to return to.
by Sophie Hanson (Intern with the Orangutan Foundation) I have had the good fortune to have visited several rainforests across the world, but none more memorable than those of Borneo. I was struck by the incredible buttress roots of iconic ‘jungle’ trees, hanging vines and aerial roots! These trees have no boundaries - even in metropolitan cities such as Jakarta you may find them bursting through the concrete in all their glory, leading me to wonder what secrets they may hold up in the canopy. Once among such giants it is suddenly easy to imagine great troops of monkeys swinging their way through to fruiting trees, and whenever I find myself in their midst I can’t help but strain my neck in anticipation of such an event.
Unfortunately, soon after arriving, I realised my curly strawberry-blonde mop of a hairdo appears to many insects as a magnificent flower possessing the most succulent of nectar! I really learned to hold an iron nerve as beetles rumbling like motorbikes skimmed my hairline. By day, the chorus of insects is enough to make any entomophobe flee in terror, with the sounds only occasionally interrupted by the haunting call of birds floating through the trees. As night falls, this chorus changes hands with the great swathes of frogs that inhabit all levels of the rainforest. I remember vividly the sudden bouts of both fear and amazement I experienced whilst walking through this incredible habitat as dusk settled. I was impressed by the military discipline of lines of giant ants passing forest trails, and captivated by giant millipedes scuttling along the forest floor.
During my stay I visited a sanctuary for orangutans, as well as a sanctuary for proboscis monkeys, and found I could have happily watched both species for hours. Orangutan infants made me giggle with their slow, deliberate movements; their wispy hair giving them the appearance of determined little old men. The dominant male proboscis monkey sitting close-by was less appealing as he honked his swollen nose at females - his massive belly and vibrant appendage on display - while they invited him to mate with hilarious facial expressions. Whilst among the mangroves I saw my first mudskipper fish jumping and gasping in the shallows, and was surprised by their size - nature documentaries had always made them appear much larger!
In short, I was astounded by the richness and variety of biodiversity these rainforests had to offer. Visiting rainforests around the world always leaves me in awe, and I will forever fight to protect them.
Early this year, the general public received the sad news that one of what is believed to be a population of only 15 Sumatran rhinos inhabiting the West Kutai district of Kalimantan had died. Najaq, a female rhino, had been suffering from an infected wound on her leg, believed to be caused by snares set by poachers. This news highlighted the plight of the remaining relict population of Sumatran rhinos in Borneo. This population (previously thought to be extinct) was rediscovered in 2013 and tracked with the use of camera traps, as Sumatran rhinos are shy solitary animals.
Sumatran rhinos (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) are listed as critically endangered, with less than 250 thought to exist in isolated wild populations across Sumatra and Borneo, although originally found throughout much of Southeast Asia. These rhinos are the smallest of the five surviving species, and the only type possessing a light covering of long hair, earning the nickname ‘hairy rhinos’! Their biggest threat is from poachers who are after their coveted horn; their horns are sought after as a status symbol and for use in alternative medicine.
Field workers are hoping to capture the remaining 14 rhinos in Kalimantan and transfer them to a sanctuary which is currently being constructed close to where Najaq was found. Whether this will be enough to save this Bornean subspecies is unclear. With such a small number believed to be left in existence, we may sadly have to bid farewell to this majestic species of megafauna that once roamed the wild forests of Borneo alongside orangutans.
Rainforest Reflections by Rowan Sharp (This blog has been edited to include more recent events.)
Working for an NGO that primarily focuses on habitat conservation, I normally try to avoid speaking too emotively or sentimentally about the animals we rescue. But when a wounded gibbon is clutching your hand as he fights for his life, it’s really very hard not to see the emotional side of things.
This particular gibbon had been kept as a pet by a local villager, and bound by ropes within their home. When the gibbon grew in size, and began to become wilder in nature, he eventually bit the owner. It’s a shame that it took an event of this kind to push the owner to give him up to the local authorities, but it at least landed him in the safe hands of the Orangutan Foundation.
It was clear from the moment we laid eyes on him that something was wrong; a usually very energetic (and potentially aggressive) species, the gibbon instead lay limp and silent on the floor of his cage. As soon as we took a closer look, we could see the deep deep wounds around his waist which had already caused a terrible infection. His body trembled violently and there was no shadow of a doubt that he was in a great deal of pain. Domesticated by years of being kept as a pet, the ape was desperate for human contact and reached out to us to be held…ethics and professionalism were thrown out the window at this point. His death truly felt imminent, and refusing to hold him was to sentence him to die alone in a steel cage.
This first encounter was heartbreaking for all involved, and it’s really quite difficult to put the range of emotions into words. All I know is that, at the end of the day, the feeling I felt most strongly was anger. Anger at the people who could tie up an innocent animal without a second thought to its well-being (never mind that gibbons are one of the most intelligent species on the planet). Anger that in this day and age, when awareness is so high, people still don’t see a problem with keeping a wild ape as a pet. And anger that we couldn't have done anything sooner; maybe somehow prevented the infection from getting to this late stage. But there was no one around to direct this anger to. We felt helpless, and there was little to be done but to hold his hands and hope for the best.
For the next few days, the gibbon was held in the Foundation’s office in Pangkalan Bun where he could receive constant care from our staff. He remained weak and his wounds were not visibly healing, but his appetite was building – as was our optimism. Sadly at 1:04am on Friday April 15th, we received word from our night guard that the gibbon had passed away.
We are all devastated by this turn of events and can only hope that his story can serve as a lesson to all.
On 9th February, our rescue team celebrated the relocation of two orangutans, a gibbon, and four slow lorises at Camp Buluh, in Lamandau Wildlife Reserve.
The two orangutans being released were both young females. Narti, an adult of 15 years old, was previously rescued from a palm plantation, as documented in our last blog post ‘Last Tree Standing’. Ema is 6 years old, and was found in the Mendawai area. She is still very young and although no longer dependent on her mother, will certainly benefit from monitoring and support provided by our teams in the Lamandau reserve.
Both orangutans left their cages immediately once freed in the forest. Narti climbed straight up a tree, whilst Ema nearly fell in the water before joining Narti up in the heights of their true home.
Gibbons are notoriously elusive primates, living high in the treetops, generally only detectable through their haunting songs throughout the forest. Therefore, it is quite understandable that the gibbon was ill at ease leaving the crate on the forest floor.
After an hour however, the gibbon plucked up the courage to climb a tree back to where he felt most at home, high above rescuers heads.
As slow lorises are nocturnal primates, all four slow lorises were released in the evening, so as to give them the best chance to adjust to their new surroundings when they are naturally at their most alert.
This is a major part of Orangutan Foundation’s work, rescuing orangutans as well as other primates and animals from ever-changing areas of land they once called home, and returning them to the safety of the forest. Well done to our rescue teams on another great success!
by Joanne Cotton Returning volunteer, Joanne Cotton, shares her experiences from the Orangutan Foundation's past summer volunteer programmes.
Yesterday was another great day as we travelled by boat for about 4 hours through the National Park. The scenery was stunning and the further into the journey we got, the more stunning the jungle scenery became. We saw wild orangutans, proboscis monkeys and many other animals which I can’t even remember the names of. I am really trying to commit everything to memory but the senses are completely overloaded!
The boat was moored up for the night and after eating our evening meal of fresh fish and stir fried vegetables with tempeh we were taken on a night walk. It gets dark at about half past five here but it turns out that there is as much to see during the night as there is during the day. One of the local Indonesians was obviously really keen to help us see as much as possible. He showed us a tarantula, smoking mushrooms and even our first leech of the trip!
Tomorrow we have a day at Camp Leakey where we will see orangutans of all ages up close, I can’t wait. Then, after a few days of getting used to the heat and the time difference we will head out to camp which will be our home for the next few weeks. That’s when the hard work building a boardwalk begins! But for now I am off to take a shower out of a bucket of river water with a hole in it!
I am so thrilled to be back here! Borneo really stole a piece of my heart during my first trip. This trip is completely different from the first time. This time, although the work is still physically hard, it’s not quite as dirty! We are helping to rebuild an education centre in the National Park which involves lots of hammering, sawing and painting.
Last night I slept outside in a hammock for the first time and as I was falling asleep I could hear the orangutan long call in the trees around me. We tend to wake up quite early here and today I was woken by the macaques playing in the trees next to me.
Today was our day off so a few of us took a Klotok down the river to a little village. Our camp is located right on the river and there is so much wildlife here, we have even seen a crocodile a little further up the river!
Our lifestyle is very basic here, but I don’t find myself left wanting for anything. We work hard, are well fed and have had many laughs. We have been learning a lot about the wildlife and local culture from the Indonesians and we are even learning a little bit of Indonesian along the way.
I can see that each volunteer project is very unique and offers a very different experience each time. It will never be the same experience twice…. but that’s all the more reason to keep coming back!
Applications are NOW OPEN for the 2016 programme! To apply for this year's summer volunteer programme, click here!
We think all concerned must have been surprised to find a 12-year-old male sun bear being kept as a pet by Mr Sutiyo, the vice-head of the district resort police. Mr Sutiyo had kept the sun bear for 12 years, feeding him a fattening diet of rice, sugar and honey. Upon the arrival of a translocation team, the bear was anaesthetised by the Foundation vet, Dr Wawan, and put into a large cage so that he could be transported to Pangkalan Bun.
As Mr Sutiyo was leaving Sampit, for Jakarta, he finally made the decision to give his pet up to the authorities, and allow him be returned to the wild. Unfortunately, since the sun bear has been kept as a pet for so many years, and is very overweight due to its poor diet, it will not make a suitable candidate for release. Exotic pets lack the ability to feed, protect or more generally fend for themselves in the wild, and they face an extremely low rate of survival if released without these skills.
For this reason, our staff could not free the sun bear into one of the Foundation’s release sites. Instead it was coordinated that the sun bear be taken to Orangutan Foundation International’s (OFI) orangutan care and quarantine facility, where he will get the care he needs, yet sadly with little hope of eventual release.
This is a prime example of the unfair consequences of keeping wild animals as pets, and is sadly not the first case we’ve heard of people in authoritative positions being held accountable. Cases like these only highlight the importance of our educational programmes, through which the Foundation endeavours to teach local communities the implications of holding orangutans captive. We hope that these programmes continue to be met with great success.
Help us to continue this much-needed work by donating toward our educational programmes in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. http://www.orangutan.org.uk/how-to-help/make-a-donation
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)!
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!
The Orangutan Foundation are proud to be partners of a groundbreaking Camera Trapping Project with Yayasan Orangutan Indonesia (Yayorin) and The Orangutan Tropical Peatland Project (OuTrop) - allowing us to document animals that have never been seen before in the remote and highly diverse area of Belantikan Hulu. Here, Susan Cheyne, co-coordinator of the project, tells us about the initial results... Check out the stunning footage we got; sun bears here, an orangutan here and a pangolin here.
"July 2014 sees the end of 2 years of camera trapping in 6 forests across Kalimantan. 160 camera traps were set out covering at total of almost 700km2 of rainforest. The final forest to be surveyed was started in February 2014 in collaboration with Yayasan Orangutan Indonesia (Yayorin) and the Orangutan Foundation UK (OFUK).
The Belantikan-Arut area in Central Kalimantan, whose core area is Belantikan Hulu, is a spectacular landscape spanning 5,000km2 hectares across Central and West Kalimantan, is known to contain the largest single population of orangutans outside of protected areas.
The results of this work are very exciting. Not only were Sunda clouded leopards confirmed in this forest but also the elusive banteng. The banteng is a large and rare wild cattle species and is endemic to Borneo but is not widespread across the island.
Of course orang-utans featured on the camera traps, adding to the recent information that the man of the forest in fact spends a lot of time on the ground. Not only were large males caught on camera but juveniles and mothers and infants travelling on the ground.
Of great interest is the number of deer and bearded pigs especially the majestic Sambar deer, largest of the 5 species on Borneo. Good eating for a clouded leopard!
The white-fronted langur (see closely related species - the red langur - pictured above) is normally swinging up in the canopy, but like many primates, also comes to the ground. This species has a very patchy distribution across western Borneo and confirmation of the presence in Belantikan is important new information.
Sun bears are the smallest of all the world’s bears and have the longest tongue of any bear! Females generally have 1-2 cubs each year. We were fortunate to have surveyed during the time of year when cubs are venturing out and about with their mother and captured some wonderful photos and videos of their interactions.
The little yellow-throated marten is apparently widely distributed throughout Borneo but not much is known about these animals. Living alone or in pairs, they are active at both day and night. Although listed as IUCN Red List Least Concern, nothing is known about the population numbers on Borneo.
Camera traps provide an amazing and unique view into the wildlife of the forests we are working to protect. Almost each photo provides new information about behaviour, distribution or activity of these animals."
The Foundation are collaborating with conservationists to give a 24-hour window into wildlife of remote rainforests, using facebook and twitter! On 2 June 2014 conservationists are coming together to share 24 hours of wildlife sightings from rainforest locations across Southeast Asia. The Foundation were asked to take part and are excited to see what we can see from so many fabulous locations across the working world of biodiversity.
'Rainforest: Live' will take advantage of social media, using the spread of technology to allow everyone to see and learn about even some of the most remote corners of the globe.
Photos, videos and wildlife sightings will all be shared live. The 11 respective rainforest field sites will all use the hashtag #rainforestlive. Do ask us or any of the organisations questions using the hashtag!
Ashley Leiman, OBE, Director of the Orangutan Foundation, said “this collaboration brings home that deforestation effects not only the wildlife, but is the third largest cause of green house gas emissions and so effects everyone on the planet. Days such as this highlight how much researchers are learning, with a view to achieving more conservation successes on the ground.”
Matt Williams, Communications Manager for OuTrop said “If people in Southeast Asia and across the world are reminded of this incredible natural gift, then we have a better chance of saving tropical rainforests everywhere. Rainforest: Live is an unprecedented event bringing live sightings straight from the jungle. Members of the public can take part by using the #rainforestlive hashtag to ask questions they’ve always wondered about to rainforest experts.”
“We’re excited to participate in this event,” says Dr. Cheryl Knott, Executive Director of the Gunung Palung Orangutan Project, “as Rainforest: Live will provide an exciting ‘virtual experience’ for the pubic – a way to simultaneously travel to rainforests throughout Southeast Asia and experience the regions’ incredible biodiversity.”
The Foundation is always asked 'How is the situation - facing the orangutans?'. We answer 'The Foundation is making progress', in one way by working closely with villagers and oil palm companies to mitigate human-wildlife conflict'. This strategy is working, as the Foundation is called upon to rescue stranded orangutans, rather than the individuals being harmed. Within one week in April, the Field staff were called upon to translocate four orangutans that had entered villager's farm land. One orangutan was found in a chicken farm and had eaten bananas and coconuts from the orchard on her way! These situations must be extremely frustrating for the farmers and yet rather than injure the marauding orangutan, the local people now know that there is an alternative, and that is to call upon the Rescue Team (OF and BKSDA).
That same week, a female orangutan with two offspring was found in a farm of maize and bean crops. Again the land owner did the right thing by requesting that the orangutan be translocated. All these orangutans were given comprehensive health checks (see above), and when found to be healthy were re-introduced into the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve. Without protected areas such as Lamandau, the fate of these orangutans would be unknown. The reserve is a haven not only for orangutans. Recently a gibbon and a salt water crocodile were released (in fact in that very same week!). It is worrying that the loss of habitat is not decreasing, but through the Foundation's work on the ground and your support, we are able to give wildlife a protected future. Have a friend or an offspring of your own to read this story? Please do share on facebook(click here) or twitter(click here). Helping these individuals to be protected, you can read more and donate easily, supporting the Foundation. Thank you for reading!
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.
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!
Two orangutans have been successfully trans-located via 'hard release', whilst seven others (Melan, Yuli & Ivan, Lisna, Jupe, Rocky and Muda - more news on them soon!) remain in the latter stages of 'soft release'. By the end of August, all these individuals will be released and soon back into the wilds of life by them selves.
Hard release and soft release are terms given to the different types of orangutan release. Hard releases are shorter, easier and are more ideal for individuals of a good age and in good health. A well grown, healthy orangutan needs removal from private land or farm, the Orangutan Foundation vet gives any medical check ups needed and the Foundation staff release the individual straight back into the wild usually with a day before going back into the forest.
Soft releases occur when the individual needs some time for adjustment within a protected and secure area. The individual may be very young without a mother, may have been injured, require medical attention or a course of medicine over some days. In these cases, individuals can stay in the most appropriate cage available at one of our six release sites. Through a process of observation, time outside the cage and regaining health where needed, these individuals are then released into the wild.
The Foundation Indonesian office gets contacted about all sorts of animals! In the past we have helped a clouded leopard and sun-bear individuals before, and in the July our team rescued a young bear from near Sampit, east of Lamandau. It needed a few days to be watched over and some help in the first few days to adjust, but very soon our staff will be releasing it into the forest, following it at first - just like how we ensure the orangutans are doing well!
The two orangutans relocated in July were able to go straight back in the wild - such important work towards sustaining the wild populations of orangutans that are still surviving in the wild. The Orangutan Foundation has been supporting the orangutan reintroduction programme in the protected Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve since 2000. It is one of the few places in Indonesia where translocated and rescued orangutans can be released in the wild. We can release in several locations in the Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve for a hard release, and we have six orangutan release camps in the reserve for soft releases.
As soon as we hear about Melan's, Rocky's, Ivan's and Muda's final trip out into the wild we'll let you know - it won't be long till these four are out and about. You can read Melan's story here, a brave female featured in our last newsletter. To receive our email updates, please do sign up here!
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!
This wonderful photo was taken by Arif, the manager of Pondok Ambung Tropical Forest Research Station, which is run by the Orangutan Foundation in cooperation with the head of Tanjung Puting National Park, (Indonesian Borneo).
The bird in the nest is the Black Naped Monarch Hypothymis azurea. It is a small species of flycatcher and the female is different in having a brown back.
The park authorities have invited stakeholders to work together to produce a book on the bird species found in the Park. The whole project will be a joint effort, from collecting photos to designing the layout. Arif attended the first meeting to share ideas and discuss the book's content.
In 2009, we gave a research grant to Harri Purnomo (Bogor Agriculture University), an Indonesian student, whose study of the diversity of birds at Pondok Ambung Tropical Forest Research Station, found 107 species. It is thought that over 200 bird species are found within the Park. We will be helping to identify the different species of birds in photographs that are to be included in the book. Watch this space for news on the book.
Steppes Discovery are running Orangutan Conservation Tours to the National Park, which includes a visit to the Pondok Ambung Research Station. For more details about this once-in-a-lifetime trip click here.
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.
Orangutan Foundation and Yayorin (Belantikan Conservation Programme)
We are happy to tell you he is doing very well. It was touch and go when he was first rescued and we thought he had a problem with his hind legs. The leopard, who is now about 4 months old, is healthy, active and playful and has put on a kilo since he was found. The villagers, who discovered the cub named him Bombom and we have kept that name as it seems to suit him.
Pak Tigor, the manager of our activities in the Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve, arranged to have a temporary enclosure built for the cub. It is at Camp Gemini where we also have a small vet clinic.
Above and below - Bombom, being transferred to the Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve by speedboat
The enclosure not only gives him space to play but also allows him to get re-united with his natural surroundings. As soon as Bombom was in his enclosure he ran about and climbed all over it. Clouded leopards are thought to be predominantly nocturnal and so a member of the camp's staff has been assigned to keep an eye on him at night.
Photos above and below - Bombom in his new temporary enclosure
Photo above - a playful Bombom
We hope to bring you more news on Bombom soon but in the meantime please consider a donation to support our vital work in Borneo.