More orangutan rescues, ensuring wild individuals stay wild!

Last July, the Orangutan Foundation team were called to a local palm oil plantation by the owner of the land to relocate an orangutan that had been seen in the area. The farmer wanted the orangutan removed to protect the quality of the crop and near by villages. Additionally, orangutans can be tempted into the nearby community and plantations by palm fruit as well as the more popular pineapples, grown in the village gardens.

Find out more about the importance of translocation on our website…

Less than an hour after receiving reports on the orangutan’s location… “the team arrived at the scene, and immediately followed the orangutan.” Dr Wawan tells us… “Due to the thick forest and tall shrubs, plus the swampy location, this is enough to cause the team a little trouble.”

The individual a few hours before release…

They were pursuing the individual until after sunset, and finally around 7pm the orangutan was darted and taken to the BKSDA office in Pangkalan Bun were it was given a check up. The individual was a male around 9-11 years old estimated from the dental work… “From his physical condition looks healthy, still very wild, in a healthy condition and had good blood circulation and health.”  Having come straight from the wild and as it was in such good health, the Foundation’s vet recommended a hard release very soon.

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 into a protected area.

The orangutan was successfully released in the area between Camp Gemini and Camp Siswoyo on the 17th – just last Friday! This site was chosen because the water level of the river is still very high, allowing the boat to access good release points. Dr Wawan was also able to put together some footage taken – watch a vital insight into our orangutan translocation work by clicking here ; “A ‘hard’ release on the 17th of July” (click this link to download short film here!).

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 Danau Burung lake

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…

 

The Danau Burung Guard post

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!

Now white and fluffy…

… previously they were more vulnerable.

Yayorin’s mobile conservation bus

We recently received a comment on our orangutan.org.uk/blog from Dwi Triyanto asking about Yayorin’s mobile bus. Eddy Santoso, from Yayorin, has sent this short update. You can find out more about Yayorin’s inspiring work on their Facebook page.

 

Eddy Santoso of Yayorin

‘Yayorin’s Mobile Bus has been busy ferrying various organisations including the Indonesian Forestry Department’s fire-fighting agency (Manggala Agni), Agency for Conservation of Natural Resources (BKSDA Kalteng SKW II) and students from the Conservation Club of 3 high schools in Pangkalan Bun, Central Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo.  The groups all assisted with reforestation in Tanjung Keluang Natural Tourism Park, where hawksbill turtles and green turtles lay their eggs.

Yayorin’s mobile bus on a school visit. Photo by Yayorin

In April and May of this year the bus transported the public to plant trees as part of Earth Day and also took students from a local school to the forests of Tanjung Puting National Park. Last month, the bus transported 180 student from Pangkalan Bun to Yayorin’s Sustainable Integrated Agriculture Learning Centre at the village of Sungai Sintuk for a 3 day field trip. The bus is out and about spreading Yayorin’s message ‘People need the forests, forests need orangutans‘.”

If you are interested in sponsoring Yayorin’s mobile bus then please contact us for further information or visit their Facebook page.

Thank you for your continued interest and support,

Orangutan Foundation

Orangutan Rescued

Our vet, Dr Wawan, has written this post about the rescue of a female Bornean orangutan, who had been seen in a village rubber plantation and a nearby oil palm plantation.

“We had received information from Bapak Haji Arun and villagers that orangutans have often being seen in Arun’s rubber plantation, eating rubber seeds and bark and also in forest near PT GAP oil plam plantation area.

Our rescue team comprised; PT GAP Oil Palm Plantation (Darman, Erik etc); BKSDA SKW II Kalteng (Muda, As Blek) – Agency for Conservation of Natural Resources; and Orangutan Foundation (Wawan, Tigor, Sariamat, Uduk, Udin).

We arrived on location at 27 june 4.30pm. Based on Pak Erik (PT GAP) information, this place was often passed by orangutans. Sometimes they in rubber plantation at left side of road or sometimes in the forest on the right side. Pak Erik did monitoring for almost two months and he said at least five orangutans often seen there, he also took pictures.

Our team then went to the rubber plantation where we found some nests but no orangutans. We took some photos of the orangutan nests and then as dusk fell, at 6pm, we go to PT. GAP mess to rest.

The next day we arrived on location at 6am, three people had already seen an orangutan in the high branch of tree at the forest area right side of road.

Orangutan Foundation vet, Dr Wawan, prepares darts

After seeing the orangutan I prepare some darts with anesthetic ‘ketamine hcl’ for estimated 30 Kg body weight.

Orangutan high up in tree. Photo by Orangutan Foundation

The deep trench between the road and forest blocked our path. Pak Sariamat, Uduk and I tried to find way around to penetrate the thick bush of forest in order that we could approach the orangutan from behind.

Pitcher plants (Nepenthes) in the forest. Photo by Orangutan Foundation

As Blek (from BKSDA) and Tigor stayed on the road to keep watching the orangutan.  After a while we came up close to the female orangutan but she see us as well. She begins to intimidate us with her voice and by throwing branches at us.

As Blek and Uduk blew the pipe for several times but all missed because she keep moving all the time, sometime sit on very high tree branches so its impossible for syringe dart reach it, we all think it would be easier with a dart gun. We keep following her for many hours but in the end we feel so tired and give up. After take a rest for a while, we decided to go out from the forest and walk to the main road road.  Udin, Orangutan Foundation staff, suddenly saw the orangutan in a tree beside the road. We were surprised and tried to capture her again but even this time we got same result, the orangutan disappeared.

We then decided to check the rubber plantation area. After a short time we found another female orangutan in a rubber tree. We spread our team to surround the target, but it is not that easy, again the orangutan is very active, keep moving. Uduk blew the pipe several times but kept missing. Then we decide to keep follow this orangutan until dusk when she also tired and making a nest for a rest. At 6pm orangutan make a nest and sleeping. We make a sign on that tree and plan to come there tommorow before sun rise.

Fire lit to avoid mosquitos

At 4am the next day we started off to go to the location, day still dark and we use a small flashlight in order to approach to the nest tree. Once there Pak Uduk make a small fire to avoid mosquitos and keep us warm.The orangutan still sleeping in the nest and at 6am as the day brightened she woke and started to move through the rubber trees.

Once she hang on short branch, Uduk blew the pipe and finally the dart needle penetrated her right foot. She still moving and still strong after around 5 minutes.  As Blek tried a second dart needle which successfully penetrated on her left thigh. Two minutes later, the orangutan fell.

Carrying anaesthetised orangutan. Photo by Orangutan Foundation

I give her an examination and she seems healthy. Based from the pattern of teeth she is about 12-15 years age and her body weight was 27.4 Kg.

Veterinary examination of orangutan. Photo by Orangutan Foundation

We finally transported her to Pangkalan Bun where she will be released in the Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve.

Orangutan awake from anaesthetic. She will shortly be freed in the Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve. Photo by Orangutan Foundation

I thankyou for all support to this rescue, Orangutan Foundation team, BKSDA SKW II Kalteng and also PT GAP for all facilitations and support.

Dr Wawan – Orangutan Foundation Vet

FIRST IMAGES OF NEWBORN ORANGUTANS IN THE LAMANDAU RIVER WILDLIFE RESERVE, BORNEO

Dr Wawan, our vet, has taken some fantastic photos of two female orangutans with their newborn babies, in the Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve, an orangutan release site, in Central Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo.

Dr Wawan writes “Female orangutan Amoy was moved from the Orangutan Care Centre and Quarantine (OCCQ) facility, run by Orangutan Foundation International, to the Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve ten years ago, in July 2003.  Her infant was sleeping on her neck when we visited Camp Gemini Release Site at the beginning of June. Field staff told us its just two weeks old and is female (is called Alex just in case!). The baby could barely lift its head it was so young. Orangutan Foundation field staff keep an individual book for every orangutan in Lamandau so we could find easily its history, when the first time they were released  and any offspring etc.

The other orangutan is Luxi, she was hanging on to a tree and looking for food with her infant, Luna, attached on her waist. It’s maybe 3 or 4 weeks old, older that Amoy’s baby. Luxi was moved from OCCQ facility to the wildlife reserve in April 2005 and she was also released at Camp Gemini.

Sadly, last year, her first baby disappeared and nobody knew where or why. Now she looks healthy with an new infant and we all hope this baby will survive. We must keep monitoring her, making sure she get the best feeding in order to produce good nutrition for the baby.

On that day we were all fascinated and excited to witness that two orangutans have babies. It is a real evidence that prove it is possible to have a better life by living in the wild.”

Thank you for sharing your wonderful photos Dr Wawan!

Please help us to keep these orangutans and their habitat safe. You can support our work by making a donation here or simply text APES05 £X to 70070 (where X is the amount you would like to donate, e.g. text APES05 £20 to 70070 to donate £20).

Thank you for your support,

Orangutan Foundation

Mitigation of Human-Orangutan Conflicts in Central Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo

One hundred invitations were sent out for the workshop Mitigation of Human-Orangutan Conflicts in Central Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. The conference room was booked for a capacity of 80, we didn’t want the room to look empty in case there were a number of ‘no shows’. I watched as the room began to fill, more chairs had to be brought in, numbers were now up to 90, a good start already. There was a stir of anticipation, as everyone took their seats.

The workshop began with opening remarks by myself, the head of BKSDA (Agency for Conservation of Natural Resources) and the Bupati’s (Mayor) office. I welcomed the participants by acknowledging we were at the workshop because we recognised the issues of human – orangutan conflict which affects both orangutans and humans and hoped by the end of the day we would have addressed these problems and have workable recommendations for the future. I used the story of Aan, an orangutan who was shot and badly injured in an oil palm plantation, as the catalyst for the campaign.

The morning was taken up by presentations from: Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil Organization, Forina, National Forum for Corporate Social Responsibility , representatives from Oil Palm plantations and the Ministry of Forestry (PHKA).

In the afternoon the participants broke into two working groups which presented an opportunity for different points of view to be exchanged (of which there were many) and to make recommendations. At this point I don’t believe anyone knew what would come next. As each group presented their finding it became obvious there would be some agreement here. The workshop went far beyond agreement, as the moderator called out the recommendations, there was applause after each one!

Finally it was the moment of the signing. It is one thing to verbally agree, but in Indonesia it is a different matter to put your name to something. At the start of the day no one would have expected to accomplish so much in such a short time. Pak Ade (the moderator) asked, “who will sign?”, slowly one hand was raised and then another, very quickly we realised this was going to be a landmark moment. See the signatories below.

Naturally we had high hopes for the day but this was beyond anyone’s expectations. I closed by thanking all participants (thank you to Rob Stuebing for participating) for their confidence in the Foundation, Yayorin and BKSDA to carry this process forward.

Thank you to The Rufford Foundation for their support and commitment.

Ashley Leiman, Director/Trustee Orangutan Foundation

CONCLUSION

WORKSHOP ON MITIGATION OF CONFLICT BETWEEN HUMAN AND ORANGUTAN
IN AND AROUND PALM OIL PLANTATION
Pangkalan Bun, June 4, 2013

1. Protect orangutans in the concession area is the company’s policy which must be supported by adequate facilities including with an increase in human resources in oil palm plantation (eg the formation of the Task Force) and supported by the Government, in this case Natural Resources Conservation Agency of Central Kalimantan;

2. Agreed to form Communication Forum to follow up Workshop on Human-Orangutan Conflict Mitigation in and around the oil palm plantation which was formed by Natural Resources Conservation Agency of Central Kalimantan, which is facilitated by Orangutan Foundation UK and Yayorin, which consists of plantation companies and related stakeholders;

3. Every company is expected to be able to develop a system on Wildlife Database in the oil palm plantations, which form issued by Natural Resources Conservation Agency of Central Kalimantan;

4. Minutes and Conclusions of the Workshop will be sent to each company and will be reported officially by Natural Resources Conservation Agency of Central Kalimantan, Orangutan Foundation UK and Yayorin, the Director General of Protection and Nature Conservation, Ministry of Forestry, Directorate General of Estate Crops, Ministry of Agriculture, West Kotawaringin District, and the governor of Central Kalimantan.
On behalf of the workshop participants:
1. PT. Gunung Sejahtera Ibu Pertiwi
2. PT. Bumitama Gunajaya Agro
3. PT. Citra Borneo Indah
4. PT. Mustika Sembuluh, Wilmar Plantation
5. PT. Sampoerna Agro
6. PT. SMART Tbk
7. PT. Globalindo Alam Perkasa
8. PT. Indotruba Tengah, Minamas Plantation
9. PT. Union Sampoerna Triputra Persada
10. PT. Surya Sawit Sejati
11. Direktorat Konservasi Keanekaragaman Hayati, Ditjen PHKA, Kementerian Kehutanan
12. Komisi Perkebunan Kelapa Sawit Berkelanjutan Indonesia, Ditjen Perkebunan, Kementerian Pertanian
13. Forum Nasional CSR Kesejahteraan Sosial
14. Balai Konservasi Sumber Daya Alam Kalimantan Tengah
15. Balai Taman Nasional Tanjung Puting
16. Badan Perencanaan Pembangunan Daerah Kotawaringin Barat
17. Forum Orangutan Indonesia (FORINA)
18. WWF Indonesia
19. ZSL
20. BOSF
21. Orangutan Foundation International
22. Yayorin (Yayasan Orangutan Indonesia
23. Orangutan Foundation UK

Video: stitching head wound of rescued orangutan

Below is the video clip of our vet, Dr Wawan, stitching Melan’s head wound for the second time. It is quite gory so not for the faint-hearted.

This week Dr Wawan sent an update on Melan saying that her wound still looks wide, but there is tissue growth which is starting to cover the bone. Iodine, rivanol (antiseptic) and antibiotic powder will be applied until it is fully recovered. He is hopeful that it will heal.

Thank you for your support.

Orangutan Foundation

Injured orangutan rescued from oil palm plantation

Here is an update from our vet, Dr Wawan, on a young orangutan rescued in April.  Ashley Leiman, the Orangutan Foundation’s director, returned from a visit to Indonesia last week. Ashley managed to get some video footage, of the orangutan having her head stitched, during her visit to the Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve (Central Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo). We will share this with you shortly but for now, over to Wawan, who has written this post.

‘Melan, she is an orangutan that caught by villagers in an oil palm plantation area in Natai Raya village, close to the town of Pangkalan bun, Kalimantan Tengah Province. BKSDA (Conservation and Natural Resources Authority) rescued her from the village in with the Orangutan Foundation’s help.

Unfortunately she have a big wound in her head, like she has been sliced by knife or any other sharp object. We could see her skull because the wound is wide open, very pity little Orangutan. She is maybe 3 years old female orangutan.

I decide to clean and stitch the wound. I give her anaesthetic and I try to clean the wound with an Iodine solution and make it clearer from her hairs. After 30 minutes she woke up very suddenly. She is put in her cage at BKSDA office. I see the stitching is good enough and I give suggestion to keep watching on her whether she will scratch and or pull the stitches.

 

For a moment she is looks good by not scratch it hard, maybe just a gently touching, and some time she use leaves to cover her head to avoid flies come over. I think it is good and hope she will get well by a week.

Then 8 days after the stitching I saw unexpected thing!

Trying to prise the skin together on a head wound on a young orangutan

The wound become wide open again and wider than before I think. She is in the cage with another Orangutan, I see they were happy keep playing and playing. I suspect because of their playing intensity, they shouldn’t put in the cage together. BKSDA decide to move Melan to Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve, Camp JL. The following day I re-stitched her wound once she was at Camp JL.

I gave her another anaesthetic but his time is was harder as the skin was stronger now and its very hard to pull. But I have one good assistant to help and he keep pulling the skin while I was stitching. That second stitching took 30 minute but looks better and also I give such strong glue with the stitching to make the skin stay together.

Get well soon Melan…We will keep you updated with her progress,

Wawan (Bambang Setyawan)

Orangutan Foundation Vet

Please consider making a donation and support our essential work. Thank you.

Borneo’s beautiful barking deer

It has been a while since we’ve shared our news from the field. Arif, the manager of Pondok Ambung Tropical Forest Research Station situated in Tanjung Puting National Park (Central Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo), describes his encounter and attempts to photograph the Bornean red muntjac, otherwise know as the barking deer.

‘Finally, my curiosity with the barks that I often hear, have paid off. In the morning, when I was walking not far from the camp, after passing through bush-land bordering the forest, suddenly I saw two mammals walking and foraging. Wow, this is the bark voice that made me curious so far, the barking deer, the scientific name is Muntiacus muntjac. An elusive and very sensitive mammal. I held my breath, and directing my camera among the bush.

Crek .. crek ..

Noise of shutter of non professional camera, made the deers pay attention on it for a moment.

Bornean Red Muntjac or barking deer taken in Tanjung Puting National Park (Orangutan Foundation)

Bornean Red Muntjac or barking deer taken in Tanjung Puting National Park (Orangutan Foundation)

My heartbeat is getting faster and still I hold my breath. I moved my body for a little to get the best angle. Oops …the shy deer ran off with the barking voice. Hem, sometimes we need camouflage costum or maybe a professional camera with smooth shutter noise!’

Thanks Arif and what a fantastic photo – your patience paid off!

More news soon!

Orangutan Foundation

Join us today and support our essential work – thank you!

 

Terry Pratchett Facing Extinction – BBC2 9pm 27 March 2013

Please see our press release below about our Trustee’s new film, Terry Pratchett Facing Extinction, showing tonight on BBC2 at 9pm.

PRESS RELEASE

Terry Pratchett Facing Extinction

BBC2 9pm Wednesday 27 March 2013

Terry Pratchett hears the orangutans’ long call

Sir Terry Pratchett, fantasy author and Trustee of the Orangutan Foundation, returns to the forests of Borneo to see what hope there is for the endangered orangutan whilst facing his own personal challenges.

Sir Terry Pratchett encountered wild orangutans for the first time in 1994 whilst filming Terry Pratchett’s Jungle Quest.  One ape, Kusasi, who was the dominant male “king of the jungle” at the time, left a lasting impression that would, almost two decades later, entice Terry back to Borneo.   In his latest film, Terry Pratchett Facing Extinction, to be aired on BBC2 9pm on 27 March, Terry explores not only the fate of the endangered orangutan but also his own fate as he battles with a rare form of  Alzheimer’s.

Terry Pratchett is best known for his hugely popular Discworld novels, a fantasy series, which feature the Discworld character The Librarian, who was transformed into an orangutan. This prompted Terry’s curiosity about the great red ape, which he has described as “having a face like a surprised coconut”, and led to his long-term support of the Orangutan Foundation, a UK charity, of which he is a Trustee.

Young Bornean orangutan “face like a surprised coconut” by Ian Wood

Whilst filming Terry Pratchett Facing Extinction last year, Ashley Leiman OBE, the Orangutan Foundation’s Director, invited Terry and the film crew to accompany the charity’s vet and rescue team to a proposed oil palm plantation, where an adult male orangutan was reported to be crop-raiding.  The devastating threat of oil-palm plantation expansion to the endangered orangutan’s habitat required little explanation.

Terry Pratchett with Ashley Leiman in Borneo 1994 by Ralph Arbus

Ashley, who was also on Terry’s first adventure to Borneo, recounted “Back then, the chainsaw was our enemy. This time, we were confronted with the real threat: oil-palm plantations had replaced swathes of forest – the orangutans’ home. We drove for more than three hours through unrelenting monoculture. There was nothing but oil palm”.

The Orangutan Foundation increasingly has to rescue stranded or injured orangutans. Only last year, a female orangutan, considered a pest, was shot over 100 times. She miraculously survived but was left permanently blind and will never return to the wild.  To address this escalating issue the charity is working on a new project Mitigation of Human-Orangutan Conflicts in Central Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo which is bringing together local government, oil palm growers and farmers to find a solution.

The Orangutan Foundation’s Director Ashley Leiman is positive about the future for orangutans “I felt privileged to be part of Terry’s latest film but I recognise that when faced with the stark reality of the situation, stranded orangutans and such forest loss, it can be hard to remain positive. Yet Terry visited some local communities who, with our assistance, are finding alternative ways to generate an income without having to destroy the forest.  There is active local support for conservation in Borneo but as we know it only takes the actions of a few to undo the good work.   I hope Terry recognises that his generous support over the past years has made a difference and that all is not lost.”

For more information or for interviews, please call Ian Redmond, Orangutan Foundation Trustee, on 01453 765228 or email ele@globalnet.co.uk or info@orangutan.org.uk

Notes to Editors:

High resolution photos and additional images are available here: http://bit.ly/XB5iyE

Further details about the Orangutan Foundation its activities are available on the Foundation’s website www.orangutan.org.uk

The Orangutan Foundation works in Indonesian Borneo and Sumatra to protect endangered orangutans by protecting their tropical forest habitat, working with local communities and promoting research and education. It recognises that orangutan habitat is unique in its richness of biodiversity and is crucial for local communities, who are as dependant on the forest as is the orangutan.

The Orangutan Foundation work in areas of critical orangutan habitat in Central Kalimantan, in the Indonesia part of Borneo. Additionally, In collaboration with the Indonesian government’s local Nature Conservation department (PHKA), the Orangutan Foundation runs a release site for rehabilitated and translocated wild orangutans in the Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve.

Sir Terry Pratchett, Trustee of the Orangutan Foundation, is one of the most popular authors writing today. He is best known for his hugely popular Discworld novels, a fantasy series, which feature the Discworld character The Librarian, who was transformed into an orangutan. This prompted Terry Pratchett’s curiosity about orangutans and his long-term support of the Orangutan Foundation. In 1995 Terry visited Indonesian Borneo with Orangutan Foundation to see orangutans in the wild and film Terry Pratchett’s Jungle Quest for a Channel 4 television documentary and he returned in 2012 to film Terry Pratchett Facing Extinction for BBC2. Terry has won numerous literary awards, has received four honorary doctorates, was appointed OBE for services to literature in 1998 and he was knighted in the 2009 New Year Honours.

Ms Ashley Leiman OBE is Director and Trustee of the Orangutan Foundation, which she founded in 1990. Ashley has been actively involved in Asian conservation for over 30 years. Her initial involvement was with the Natural History Society and Conservation Society in Hong Kong. In 1985 she was on the organising committee of the New York Rainforest Alliance. In 1986, after spending time in Tanjung Puting National Park, Indonesian Borneo,  Ashley set about establishing the Orangutan Foundation in the UK. In 2006 Ashley was appointed OBE for her services to Orangutan Conservation. Ashley is also a member of the Executive Committee of the UNEP’s Great Apes Survival Project (GRASP).

Threats to orangutans

The biggest threat to orangutans is habitat loss. Orangutan habitat is being destroyed and degraded by oil palm plantations, illegal logging, acacia plantations, fire, mining and small-scale shifting cultivation.

The destruction of tropical forests affects the global climate and is one of the world’s most pressing environmental concerns. For orangutans the situation is critical.

The principle cause of habitat loss is the conversion of forests to agriculture, especially  vast monoculture oil palm plantations.

Palm oil is produced from the kernel of the oil palm plant and is the world’s most popular vegetable oil, primarily produced in Indonesia and Malaysia. Often labelled  as just vegetable oil, palm oil  is a hidden ingredient found in up to half of packaged food products across Europe, it is also used in cosmetics and increasingly as a biofuel.  A new EU regulation, requiring all vegetable oils to be labelled individually, will come into force in 2015.

Oil palm plantations expansion is not the only threat. Deforestation for mining (both legal and illegal) has the potential to be just as devastating. Illegal mining has been found within the boundaries of the Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve.  The Orangutan Foundation is protecting this area of critical orangutan habitat with guard posts and patrols.

Images – high resolution versions can be downloaded from the Orangutan Foundation Photo Gallery from this link http://bit.ly/XB5iyE

To donate to the Orangutan Foundation please click here or text  APES05 £X to 70070 and put whatever amount you would like to donate where the ‘X’ is. For example, to donate £20, text APES05 £20.  Thank you!