Category Archives: Rehabilitation

Progress of orphaned orangutan

Report just in from Pak Tigor, the Orangutan Foundation’s Orangutan Re-introduction Manager, about Steph the little orphan orangutan that was rescued from an oil palm plantation and taken to the Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve.
“Steph is very healthy, energetic and  now wants to play all the time with carer.
orphan orangutan Steph playing in the Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve

Orphan orangutan Steph playing in the Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve

At the end of October,  her  weight reached 5 kg. Every day activities usually start with a bath in the morning, eating and drinking and after that  Steph is taken by our field staff to play and climb trees in the forest.  And if possible they introduce natural food like young leaves or fruit.
Steph being bathed by Orangutan Foundation staff

Steph being bathed by Orangutan Foundation staff

Steph's "nest"

Steph resting

Steph in her cage.

Steph in her cage.

Orphan orangutan Steph waiting to go out into the forest

Orphan orangutan Steph waiting to go out into the forest

Sometimes when playing in the forest Steph was approached by a female orangutan (ex-captive) with infant. Upon seeing this our field staff went to leave in the hope that Steph can play with the other baby orangutan. But this wasn’t what Steph wanted as she looked scared and did not want to be approached and started Steph crying. The female orangutan also didn’t want to interfere with Steph. After this Steph was brought back to camp for a break.
When I visted Camp Rasak a few weeks ago Steph was playing on the branch of tree near the staff dining room “ruang makan”. Hongki, a male orangutan, came over and took Steph to the top of a tree and kept her until the afternoon.
Hongki, male orangutan who took Steph for the afternoon

Hongki, male orangutan who took Steph for the afternoon

Hongki then came down from the tree and allowed the Orangutan Foundation staff to take Steph back.  They checked her over to make sure she hadn’t been hurt and she was absolutely fine. It was just another experience for Steph and one which will hopefully help her as she grows up and attempts to survive in the wild.
We need your  support to ensure our vital work in the Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve can continue. Please donate to the Orangutan Foundation.
Thank you,

Pak Tigor – Orangutan Foundation Re-introduction Manager

Don’t forget you can make a donation through the Big Give Christmas Challenge – from 5th -9th December when your money can go twice as far. Matching funds are limited so please donate at 10am if possible.

Orangutans back to Borneo

Press Release

Wednesday 21st September 211

 Back to Borneo

 Endangered Bornean orangutans return home from Sumatra.

Two orangutans, which started their life in the wilds of Borneo, but ended up as pets in Sumatra have returned home.

Kevin and Bobby, are male Bornean orangutans. Their mothers were almost certainly killed at the time of their capture in Borneo (probably whilst their habitat was being clear-felled) and their previous “owners” obtained them in Borneo before returning home to the island of Sumatra. Fortunately for both Kevin and Bobby, they were subsequently rescued by the Indonesian government’s local Nature Conservation department (PHKA) and staff of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (implemented by the Swiss based PanEco Foundation and the Indonesian Yayasan Ecosystem Lestari and PHKA). Under Indonesian law it is illegal to keep orangutans as pets and to trade, harm or kill them. Kevin was rescued in 2006, aged a little over 2 years and Bobby in 2009 aged around 3 or 4 years old.


Bobby above and below – male Bornean orangutan

Bobby 3

Under the care of SOCP at the Batu Mbelin Orangutan Quarantine Centre near Medan, North Sumatra, both orangutans grew, gained weight and had excellent health. They were therefore very much ready for a return to a life in the wild. To do this, however, they had to be returned to the island of their birth. Bornean orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus) and Sumatran orangutans (Pongo abelii) are nowadays recognized by scientists as being two distinct and separate species. As such, Bornean orangutans must only be released on Borneo, and Sumatrans on Sumatra. Mixing the species on the two islands would be detrimental to the genetic viability of both species’ wild populations.


Kevin –  male Bornean orangutan

The Sumatran orangutan is already listed as Critically Endangered by the World Conservation Union (IUCN), and the Bornean as Endangered. In fact there are estimated to be only around 50,000 Bornean orangutans left in the wild and as few as only 6,600 or so Sumatrans. The future for both is therefore already precarious enough.

For the above reasons, Dr Ian Singleton, Director of Conservation for the PanEco Foundation and head of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme, approached the Orangutan Foundation, a UK registered charity, to help get the two young orangutans back to where they belonged thus contributing to the long term conservation of the Bornean orangutans, “Kevin and Bobby deserve the chance to be wild orangutans once again and we have done everything we can to make sure it happens. If we can at the same time highlight the plight of orangutans on both islands and remind people that it is illegal in Indonesia to keep them as pets then that would be an added bonus.” said the British born expert.

The Orangutan Foundation’s work is focused towards Central Kalimantan, in the Indonesia part of Borneo. In collaboration with the Indonesian government’s local Nature Conservation department (PHKA), the Orangutan Foundation runs a release site for rehabilitated and trans-located wild orangutans in the Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve.

On Saturday 17 September, the Orangutan Foundation team including their vet, Dr Fikri, flew to Medan, where the two orangutans were being kept together.  On Monday, after final checks, Kevin and Bobby began their journey home. First they flew to Jakarta, on the island of Java. Both orangutans seemed fine and not too stressed after the first flight and the Orangutan Foundation’s vet gave them some fruit. They then flew onto Pangkalan Bun, Central Kalimantan, on the island of Borneo.   On arrival, back home in Borneo, both orangutans looked out curiously from their cargo crate. The Australian Orangutan Project, partners of both organisations, kindly agreed to help fund the cost of bringing the two orangutans home. 

Kevin and Bobby are currently resting and then they will undergo some additional final pre-release medical checks at a local government facility. They will then complete the final leg of their journey, by river on a longboat, to the 76,000 hectare.

Once at the reserve they will again be housed for a few more weeks in a large cage, but this time deep in the forest that they will soon be free to explore. This is to allow them to really rest up after all the travelling and to acclimatize to their new surroundings, the swamp forests of Borneo.

Their health and behaviour will continue to be closely monitored by Orangutan Foundation’s vet and once given the all clear and when the time is right, they will finally be freed and get their chance to live as wild orangutans once again. Even then, the OF team will continue to follow them and monitor their behaviour and health until such time they are confident they will survive with little or no more intervention.

The principle threat to wild orangutans on both islands is habitat loss, mostly as forests are cleared for conversion to agriculture, especially vast, monoculture oil palm plantations. Many of the orangutans in these forests die or are killed in the process. Some of the lucky ones manage to survive and end up as illegal pets. The luckiest of them all survive long enough to be confiscated and placed in a rescue centre, and are eventually returned to a life in the wild.

The general public can help support the Orangutan Foundation’s work in the Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve at 020 7724 2912.

For more information, high resolution images, or to arrange an interview,

call Cathy Smith on +44 (0)20 7724 2912 or email [email protected]

Notes to editors:

Orangutans are only found on two islands, Borneo and Sumatra and they are classified as two distinct species reflecting this geographic distribution.

Sumatran orangutans are critically endangered with only about 6,600 in the wild. Bornean orangutans are endangered with only about 50,000 remaining. 

The Sumatra Orangutan Conservation Programme is a collaborative programme implemented by the Swiss based PanEco Foundation, Indonesia’s Yayasan Ekosistem Lestari (Foundation for a Sustainable Ecosystem) the Indonesian Government’s Directorate General of Forest Protection and Nature

The Orangutan Foundation works in collaboration with The Directorate General of Forest Protection and Nature Conservation of the Ministry of Forestry of the Republic of Indonesia (Ditjen PHKA).

The Orangutan Foundation is the UK representative of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme.

Bangkal – a gentle giant

I’d like to share with you a lovely story…

In October 2000, I went to Tanjung Puting National Park, Central Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo to join the Orangutan Foundation Volunteer Programme .  Back then, illegal logging of the national park was in full flow and because of this our group of 12 volunteers found it hard to keep our spirits up.  The whole reality of the situation came crashing down on us one day when we heard that an injured orangutan had been found close to where we were working.


Bankal in 2000 just after he was found.

Bankal, a sub-adult male aged about 11 years old, was found injured and weak. He had an open wound across his face and a horrible burn down the side of his face and neck. The cause of his injuries was all too clear, boiling oil had been thrown over him by illegal loggers. No one else would have done this.  It is probably one of the most heartbreaking things I have ever witnessed.  He was rushed to the Orangutan Care Centre and Quarantine Facility, run by Orangutan Foundation International, where he was given emergency surgery. 

Despite all he went through, Bankal remained incredibly gentle and trusting. During his recuperation, he developed a unique way of protecting himself from annoying insects, by using a blanket to cover his injured face. He would lift the blanket to allow people to feed him. 

Sadly, this was not the first tragic encounter Bankal had had with humans. It is likely that his mother was killed when he was still an infant.  He was caught, and may have been sold into the illegal pet trade.  Luckily he was discovered and confiscated by the Indonesian Authorities.  He then began the long, slow process of rehabilitation.  Bankal was a quick learner and his gentle, intelligent manner made him a favourite with everyone who cared for him.  He was first released into Tanjung Puting National Park and he became more and more independent and rarely needed to come to the feeding station.

Bankal recovered from his burn injuries and he was eventually released again in 2003, but this time into the Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve.  This June, almost 11 years after my first encounter with Bankal, I unexpectedly saw him again – this time in much happier circumstances.  I was leading a group of our supporters, from Steppes Discovery, which had been given permission by the Agency for Natural Resources Conservation (BKSDA) to visit the reserve for the afternoon.   As we walked through the forest an Orangutan Foundation staff member pointed out an orangutan on the forest floor. It was hard to make him out but when they said it was Bankal my heart jumped.  I was so thrilled to meet him again and see what a beautiful, magnificent adult male he had grown into.

Bangkal in forest Jenny Aundrews

Bankal in 2011 – photo by Jenny Aundrews

I am confident that Bankal will spend the rest of his life in the wild. His habitat is being protected and this we owe him. With a new vet programme in place we continue to monitor the orangutans that have been released.  With local communities, the Agency for Natural Resources Conservation and a local NGO, Yayorin we are safeguarding the future of this reserve for orangutans, forests and people.

Please consider a donation to help us continue our vital work.

Thank you,


Orangutan Foundation

Sumatran Orangutan Twins

View video footage of the orangutans twins  (Sumatran orangutans give birth to twins) born at the start of 2011  to blind parents from our partners, the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme.

Help the valuable work of this centre by adopting Wenda.

Thank you!

Orangutan Foundation

Press Release: Healthy twin babies for blind Sumatran orangutans


Blind Sumatran orangutan and new born twins -photo by SOCP

Blind Sumatran orangutan and new born twins -photo by SOCP

Close up of newborn Sumatran orangutan twin -photo by SOCP

Close up of newborn Sumatran orangutan twin -photo by SOCP

Sumatran mother and newly born infant twins -photo by SOCP

Sumatran mother and newly born infant twins -photo by SOCP

27th January 2011
Healthy twin babies for blind Sumatran orangutans  

Staff at a Sumatran orangutan sanctuary have a unique double celebration in their hands with the birth of rare twin infants to parents who are both completely blind and lucky to be alive.

Twins’ mother Gober lost her sight to cataracts and was rescued in 2008 by the Sumatra Orangutan Conservation Programme after her blindness forced her to raid crops, risking almost certain death from villagers.

Father Leuser,  confiscated as an illegal pet and released fit and well into the wild in Bukit Tigapulah National Park,  strayed outside park boundaries and was shot by villagers. He was found with 62 air rifle wounds with three pellets lodged in his eyes.

The twins were born last Friday (January 21) at the Batu Mbelin orangutan quarantine centre near Medan in North Sumatra where both adults are in long term care, after staff lifted their normal breeding ban to improve quality of life for elderly Gober, now well over 40.

“We try to prevent orang-utans breeding until after they are released to the wild, but this was not an option for Gober,” said Ian Singleton, Director of Conservation for the Swiss based Pan Eco Foundation.

“ We felt  having an infant would enrich her existence.  Rather than being bored, Gober now has the full time responsibility of her infants, not just one but two of them.”

Mother and babies, a boy and a girl named ‘Ganteng’ (handsome) and ‘Ginting’ ( a popular local name), are doing well under careful staff supervision, he reports.  For the time being Leuser is being kept separate although he could meet his offspring later in the year.

‘Twins are not unheard of but they are certainly not common and relatively few zoos will have experience of it.  The fact that both parents are blind this makes it a doubly special event.”

And long term?  Ian hopes that both infants will eventually be released to a life in the wild, something denied to both their parents.

“Despite their handicaps, both Gober’s and Leuser’s genes will be given a second chance to contribute to conservation of their species in the wilds of Sumatra.”

Sumatran orangutans now number only 6,600 in the wild. They are listed as ‘critically endangered’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species, facing loss of rainforest, mostly converted to oil palm plantations,  and frequently killed during forest clearance or as pests if they raid crops.

Editors Notes:

  • Three local villagers were jailed  in 2006 for shooting Leuser , all receiving sentences of more than three months. 16 pellets were removed, but 46 remain in his body as attempts to remove them could risk his life.


  •  Construction of the Batu Mbelin orang-utan quarantine centre was completed in 2002, since when 200 orangutans have been received and more than 130 already transferred to the SOCP’s centre at Jambi for re-introduction to the wild.


  • The Sumatra Orangutan Conservation Programme is a collaborative initiative driven by the Indonesia Government Directorate General of Forest Protection and Nature Conservation,  involving Swiss based Pan Eco Foundation, Indonesia’s Yayasin Ekosistem Lestari Foundation and Germany’s Frankfurt Zoological Society.  Its work includes rescue, quarantine and re-introduction, surveys and monitoring of populations, conservation research, habitat conservation, education and awareness raising.



Anyone wanting to help Gober, Leuser and their twins, and many others in Sumatra can do so by making a donation to the Orangutan Foundation in the UK or PanEco Foundation via: (Reference: SOCP)

Further details and high resolution images:-

Ashley Leiman,Director –  Orangutan Foundation.

020 7724 2912       [email protected]

Orangutan Rehabilitation and Reintroduction Workshop

Tomorrow sees the start of a 3 day workshop on orangutan rehabilitation and reintroduction at the Bogor Agricultural University, on the island of Java, Indonesia. The workshop will be attended by all stakeholders related to orangutan conservation issues but with a particular focus on those involved with rehabilitation and reintroduction. This includes, government agencies, private sector, academics, N.G.O.’s and individuals.

Pak Hudi, (our Programme Coordinator), Pak Tigor (Lamandau Orangutan Reintroduction Manager), Dr Fiqri (Lamandau Orangutan Reintroduction Vet) and Pak Uduk (Lamandau Orangutan Reintroduction Camp Coordinator) left Kalimantan today to attend on behalf of the Orangutan Foundation. They will share the Foundation’s experience of successfully reintroducing and translocating orangutans into the Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve. We are also sponsoring the participation of Pak Eko Novi (Head of section II of the Natural Resources Conservation Agency of Central Kalimantan) whom we work closely with in the Lamandau reserve. 

Hudi will bring news on how the workshop went. We’d like to thank Lisa B for her donation of $50 and Matthew K for your monthly donation of $35 – thank you for your continued support!

Keep sending us your comments and questions,

Cathy -Orangutan Foundation UK office 

Orangutan Adoption Diary – Brian and Rosa’s growing bond

The adoption of infant orangutan Brian by female orangutan Rosa is progressing well – they are much closer and there is more playing and jesting. Brian’s holding Rosa hand more frequently and even hugging Rosa. 

Bornean orangutans Brain and Rosa

Brian and Rosa – © Orangutan Foundation

When tired of playing and jesting, Brian climbs and hangs about the cage, and Rosa jiggles the cage or lies about.

Bornean orangutans

Brian and Rosa – interacting. © Orangutan Foundation

After Brian’s contented with playing and hanging he moves close to Rosa, strokes her, then pulls Rosa’s hair until it hurts her and she responsds by pulling Brian’s hand, slowly and carefully. Brian then bites Rosa’s hand, after which he runs and climbs over to the opposite corner. Brian repeats the same behaviour several times. It seems as though Brian is using this to make closer with his “new Mom”.

Brian and Rosa -Bornean orangutans

 Brian heckling Rosa © Orangutan Foundation

Brian has adapted to his new environment and situation. He knows when it’s feeding time and the Camp staff start preparing fruit and milk.

Brian and Rosa - Bornean orangutans

Feeding time © Orangutan Foundation

When Rosa and Brian are given fruit, Brian always heckles Rosa and takes her fruit. Rosa is wise and very patient and shares the fruit with Brian.

Brian and Rosa -Bornean orangutans

 Brian and Rosa -sharing fruit. © Orangutan Foundation

They seem to have developed a very strong bond and we are planning on letting Brian and Rosa out of their cage this week. 

Thank you,

 Dr Fiqri (Vet of Lamandau Orangutan Release Programme).

Please support our ‘Protect Me and My Tree Appeal’ -to help keep the orangutans in Lamandau free.

Orangutan Rescued From Oil Palm Plantation

Last Sunday the Orangutan Foundation responded to reports of a young female orangutan isolated in a tree in an oil palm plantation.  

 Stranded orangutan in tree

The young  female orangutan climbed the fig tree when we arrived in the oil palm plantation area at Pandu senjaya village, Pangkalan Lada.  

  OF staff clim tree to rescue orangutan

Uduk and Yatno  climbed the tree, but the orangutan moved to the top of the tree. At 17.30 the orangutan made the third nest and prepared to sleep. It started to get dark, so Uduk climbed down from the tree. We decided to stop the rescue and drove back to Pangkalan Bun. A labourer from the oil palm plantation stayed and watched the orangutan during the night.

The next day at 05.00 Dr Fiqri, the Vet of Orangutan Foundation’s Reintroduction Programme arrived and the orangutan was still in the tree. The labourer had started work that made the orangutan scared to come down. 

orangutan in tree

The plantation labourer moved to a different area and the orangutan began to climb down. Dr Fiqri tried to catch her but she was very fast and moved to another tree, climbing right to the top.

The second rescue team arrived at 08.00, started to moved in on the second tree where the orangutan was.

Rescue accomplished 

At 10.00 the orangutan climbed down and the rescue team succeeded to catch her with a net.

 Orangutan rescue succeeded

Dr Fiqri immediately checked the orangutan and he found worms in the orangutan’s faeces but on a whole the orangutan was in good condition. 

 Orangutan rescue succeeded

The young  female orangutan inside the transportation cage.

 Orangutan rescue

We then had to carefully transfer the cage to the truck.

 Orangutan rescue

 The young female orangutan on the back of the truck with Dr Fiqri always keeping a close eye on the whole translocation process for safe and good handling. 

 Goodbye oil palm plantation

The young  female orangutan’s view as she leaves the oil palm plantation. She will be freed in the Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve, a safer and healthier habitat, after she has received treatment for the worms in the Orangutan care Center and Quarantine (OCCQ) facility.

Dr Fiqri said approximately 3 or 4 days after treatment the female orangutan is ready to be translocated to the reserve where she will be monitored and protected. Please make a donation today to support our work in the Lamandau reserve – these orangutans deserve a life in the forest and the forests deserve orangutans.

Special thanks  go to; Eko Novi, the head of of Section II Nature Resources Conservation Agency of Central Kalimantan; Haryo, who gave the information about the young  female orangutan in the oil palm plantation; Sia and Polis (OCCQ  Staff) for good collaboration rescue ; Tigor (Orangutan Reintroduction Manager), Uduk (Orangutan Reintroduction Camp Coordinator), Fiqri (Orangutan Reintroduction Vet) and Yatno (Orangutan Reintroduction Driver) for the good work and dedication.

Thank you,

Hudi W Dewe

Orangutan Foundation – Programme Co-ordinator

Orangutan photos and thanks for the digital cameras!

Huge thanks to Rachel and Kees for donating and personally delivering two digital cameras and err…some fudge (very tasty!). The cameras are now being used in Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve by Dr Fikri, our vet and Mr Tigor, Manager of Orangutan Re-introduction Programme (see photos below of orangutan Lady Di and her infant).

Donation of digital camera From left to right: Dr Fiqri (vet), Rees, Pak Uduk (helps to manage the orangutan release camps) and Rachel.  

Bornean female orangutan -Lady DiBornean female orangutan, Lady Di with bandaged arm.

Bornean Female orangutan with infant - on the mendA mother’s love – Lady Di and her infant

Bornean female orangutan -just having had her bandaged removedLady Di with bandage removed from her arm -now fully recovered and roaming free



 p/s  lighting actually struck the office the other day, luckily we had our plugs pulled at that time. Terrible rainstorm which means less computer productivity but on the bright side it lessens the risk of forest fires.

Newborn Orangutan – Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve

July is a month which makes those of us working in Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve happy because one orangutan has been born. Dedek, gave birth to a son and this is her second son after Delon. Based on information from staff in Camp JL, Dedek gave birth on July 10, 2009. Camp JL staff first saw Dedek, with her son, under the feeding platform around 3pm.

 Dedek and infant July 2009

Dedek and her newborn son born on July 10th 2009. Photo:Orangutan Foundation 

Dedek’s son looks well. We estimated that Dedek gave birth during the day because in the morning Dedek still came to feeding platform.

Dedek’s newborn son

Newborn male orangutan.  Photo: Orangutan Foundation

Before Dedek was pregnant and during pregnancy she always played with Jalas, dominant male orangutan in JL Camp. Dedek never plays with other males only Jalas. Other male orangutans are afraid of Jalas. So we predict that Dedek’s son is Jalas’s son. Dedek and her son are well . Dedek was released in October 2002 at Camp JL. Camp staff have not decided on a name yet but it is likely to be Indonesian and staring with “D”!

Please support our work protecting these orangutans and their forest home helping to ensure they spend the rest of their life in the wild.

Thank you Tal B, Brigitta S and Matthew K for your monthly donations.

Thank you,

Dr Fiqri