Category Archives: Yayorin

Yayorin’s mobile conservation bus

We recently received a comment on our 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

Belantikan’s big ape count

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.

Bornean orangutan by Ian Wood.

Bornean orangutan by Ian Wood.

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.

Thank you,

Orangutan Foundation and Yayorin (Belantikan Conservation Programme)


Orangutans and Food – Blog Action Day 2011

Today is Blog Action Day 2011 and the theme is food.  So what does food have to do with orangutans? Quite a lot.   Our production of food, to feed a growing human population, has a huge impact on tropical forests, biodiversity and also on the great red ape.

Our last post told about an infant orangutan that was rescued from an oil palm plantation.  These subjects, palm oil and orangutans, seem to go hand in hand now days.  The issue is highly sensitive, emotive and complicated.  Palm oil, which is extracted from the oil palm kernel, is used as a fuel or is a common ingredient in soaps, candles and numerous cosmetic products. It is also found in many different processed foods.  For example, in Europe, it is found in up to half of packaged food products.

The balance between the need to feed our planet’s increasing human population (Indonesia is already well past the 230 million mark, China and India, both major importers of palm oil, have a combined human population of over 2.5 billion) and the need to safeguard the carbon-rich lowland forests of Indonesia and Malaysia (the two countries which produce the most palm oil) is a huge challenge. But it is one we must tackle if there is to be a future for orangutans, forests and people.

The problem can feel overwhelming. But in order to make progress it has to be looked at properly,  broken down and dealt with piece by piece. For example, a small yet effective initiative that the Orangutan Foundation support is the promotion of small-scale agro-forestry by  an Indonesian organisation, Yayorin.    By encouraging local farmers to adopt a sustainable, organic way of farming, as oppose to traditional  forest clearance by slash and burn or instead of farmers selling their land to an oil palm concession, forest loss has been reduced and orangutan habitat saved.

Consumers can also play their part by choosing which products they buy.  For example, avoiding those with palm oil or only buying if the the palm oil contained within is certified as sustainable.  A recent campaign we were involved with saw the European Parliament vote in favour of compulsory labelling of palm oil in food products in Europe.  This now allows consumer choice but will also help drive demand for certified sustainable palm oil.

Small-scale agro-forestry and wise consumerism are small but important steps being taken to address the problem.

Find out more about our work at

Thank you,

Orangutan Foundation

Earth Day in Central Kalimantan, Borneo

Earth Day came and went, and the Education team (from the Indonesian NGO Yayorin) from our EC funded project in Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve made sure it didn’t go unnoticed.

children wirh Yayorin mascots

Our theme for Earth Day was “Menanam Pohon Untuk Mengurangi Panas Bumi” or “Planting Trees to Decrease Global Warming”. We wanted to inform the community about climate change, and how we, as individuals and also as a community, can contribute to a better, sustainable environment.

The target for Earth Day was the community of Sukamara, a district of Central Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo) and the youth group which the Orangutan Foundation facilitate, called Green Organization. The Education team spent a week in Sukamara prior to the event, to meet up with government and school officials to ensure that the Earth Day celebrations were a joint collaboration.

school children colouring

school children colouring up close

On Earth Daywe had a drawing competition for schoolchildren of various age groups at our EC-Lamandau project office in Sukamara. There were also environment games, including building a globe (out of sustainable materials). We encouraged the youth to build tree costumes out of boxes, and make up their own environment banners.

Earth Day and banner

 Teachers and parents kindly volunteered their time to assist with these activities. An Earth Day parade mostly comprised of the youth from the Green Organization was organized, and everybody brought pails of water, of which they would spontaneously water the trees planted by the roadside. The idea is to inculcate the feeling of social togetherness and caring for the local environment. The soils in Sukamara are quite poor, and sandy and therefore, any trees, shrubs or plants in the community were ‘celebrated’ for being there.

The day ended with 124 individuals comprising of youth, government officials and villagers descending to Danau Burung nursery (also a guardpost manned by Orangutan Foundation and Forestry Department staff, that borders the Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve) to plant at least 250 indigenous seedlings.

Students planting

To thank the Green Organization youth who so enthusiastically volunteered their time to help and participate in Earth Day, we treated them to a well-deserved barbeque and an environment film screening.

Earth Day in Sukamara was hailed as a success by all, and we can’t wait to start planning for the next year!

Thank you,

June Rubis

Orangutan Foundation Programmes Manager

Environmental Education in Indonesia

Over the past year, the education team has been extremely busy. It ran education and conservation programmes for 34 schools, 12 villages, 7 government agencies, and one oil palm company.

The activities, which are part of our EC-funded programme,  highlight the need to conserve the Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve for all stakeholders, including the younger generation.


School visits around the Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve
School visits around the Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve

© Orangutan Foundation 

Each school visit was evaluated with a quiz for the students to gauge how much information was absorbed. With this knowledge, the aim for 2010 is to concentrate on selected schools to give more thorough attention and time for each conservation education programme. One component was about learning how to separate waste for composting (bins were given to selected schools).

 One school (SMK N 1 Sukamara) was selected as a model to test out a new subject called ‘Ecological farming’ that puts emphasis on sustainable farming, using organic methods. Our community officer, Pak Roji, taught this subject for several months in this school upon approval from the local education district.

 education -testing

Encouraging student participation in environmental education © Orangutan Foundation. 

Soon there will be a meeting with the teachers to obtain their feedback, and to evaluate the effectiveness of this newly introduced subject. The new syllabus will be planned together with the teachers according to their needs.

Thank you to our regular donors, Matthew K, Tal B and Brigitta S – your continued support is more vital than ever. As our field costs (e.g. for running guard posts & patrols, orangutan monitoring and rescues, support for sustainable livelihoods and educational activities etc…)  increase we must maintain our commitment to these important programmes.

If you haven’t already done so please consider making a donation to the Orangutan Foundation. 

With many thanks,

Cathy (Orangutan Foundation)

Orangutan Awareness in Borneo – ‘planting trees for the future’

Togu Simorangkir, director of Yayorin (Yayasan Orangutan Indonesia), our local partners, sent through some photo’s of their Orangutan Awareness Week activities. 

Yayorin’s theme for Orangutan Awareness Week 2009 is ‘Planting trees for the future’. They are targeting villages surrounding areas of orangutan habitat.

 Yayasan Orangutan Indonesia -school campaign

School Presentation – photo © Yayorin

Their school campaign involves presentations, mobile library, film show, quiz and games.

 Yayasan Orangutan Indonesia - school campaign

 Quiz and games – photo © Yayorin

Yayasan Orangutan Indonesia - Mobile library

Mobile library – photo © Yayorin

At the community level they have organised an exhibition, puppet show and film show. 

 Yayasan Oangutan Indonesia - Village campaign

Film showphoto © Yayorin

 Yayasan Orangutan Indonesia - Puppet show

 Yayasan Orangutan Indonesia - puppet show

Puppet show – photo © Yayorin

On Sunday 15 November, Yayorin we will be planting trees in Tanjung Putri village and in the Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve buffer zone. In total about 1500 trees will be planted by students and communities. 

 Yayasan Orangutan Indonesia - tree seedlings

Seedlings to be planted – photo © Yayorin

Yayorin will also be promoting “cheap in your own land” – a campaign to change the slash and burn agriculture method to sustainable permanent agriculture. 

 Yayorin OAW 2009 badge

Yayorin’s Orangutan Awareness Week 2009 badge ‘planting trees for the future’, which they produce and give away for free.

We’ll post about what we’ve been up to in the UK tomorrow, Orange for Orangutan Day – go on, go orange and support our work, it’s not too late!



Orangutan Foundation – UK office

Promoting Forests at Sukamara Fair, Indonesian Borneo

From the 17th to 24th October 2009, our EC-Lamandau Programme, together with the Environment Office of Sukamara (town on the Western side of Lamandau reserve), has been participating in the Sukamara Fair 2009.

Our EC-Lamandau exhibition booth really stood out. It was a cheerful display with a drawing and coloring competition for children from the ages of 5 to 11 years old. 

 Children at Sukamara Fair

Children joining in at the EC-Lamandau stand at the Sukamara Fair

We had an enthusiastic response when the orangutan and deer mascots suddenly arrived. Both mascots told stories about their life in the forest and a lively conversation arose between the mascots and the visitors, including kids! At least 600 stickers and 200 Sumpitan bulletins (local magazine published by Yayorin) were distributed to exhibition visitors and for three evenings, films on conservation education were screened.

The progamme, also called the Lamandau Ecosystem Conservation Partnership (LECP) is funded by the European Commission to maintain functioning tropical forest ecosystems in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia, which support sustainable rural development. The Partnership comprises the Conservation of Nature Resources Agency of Central Borneo (BKSDA), Yayorin and the Orangutan Foundation. 

  Hope Leaves  - Sukamara Fair 

 Leaves of Hope writen by exhibition visitors

The Head of Sukamara Regency, Ahmad Dirman listened to a brief explanation about our forest protection and community outreach work that has been implemented by Orangutan Foundation and Yayorin. He also wrote on a ‘leaf of hope’ which was hung on a branch in the exhibition.

Sukamara fair

 Ahmad Dirman encouraged the people of Sukamara to support any institutions that work on forest and environment conservation. He proudly accepted a framed orangutan photo (by Brian Matthews who was awarded highly commended in BBC wildlife photographer of the year 2009) brought from London by Ashley Leiman, the Orangutan Foundation Director. 

Thank you for your interest,

Astri – Liaison Officer

Orangutan Foundation Volunteer Programme

You’re probably aware that the Orangutan Foundation runs a Volunteer Programme (see Categories for past posts) 

This year’s programme has been different in that we are working closely with our partners Yayorin on a water purification project in the Belantikan Arut region of Central Kalimantan. Belantikan is home to the largest remaning population of orangutans in an unprotected area and is a biodiversity hotspot. 

Our strategy involves community empowerment, education and agricultural management to help villagers protect their forests. This year’s Volunteer Programme fits in by working with the local communities and further improving our relationship with them, whilst gaining their respect and providing villagers with a cleaner, safer water-source.  Each team will work in a different village. At each village, a natural spring has been identified as an alternative source to the river which is currently used for transport, bathing, washing and as a toilet. The teams build a dam to harness the spring water and then a pipe system takes it down to the village.

Volunteers return to camp after a hard days work

Climbing back up to the jetty after a hard days work 

Team 1 ended on 13th June and the village of Nanga Matu (home to Yayorin’s basecamp) now has taps providing clean water from a natural hillside spring on the other side of the river. The construction was no mean feat and massive thanks go to the hardworking volunteers and Volunteer Co-ordinators who made the project succeed.   Team 2 is already well into their work in the village of Bintang Mengalih and I was there to see the project commence. The team are living in a small community house where personal space is non- existent, and the movements and activities of us visitors is of most interest to the locals.

Volunteers are treated to a traditional party at one of the villages 

Volunteers are treated to a traditional party by a local village 

Whilst there, I encountered leeches, a scorpion, poisonous millipedes and lots of peat. Bathing is in a nearby river and we dug a long-drop toilet behind the accommodation. Before work began we had to go the village hall and formally meet the village head and some local villagers.

Village children keen to “hang out” with volunteers 

Local children were keen to “hang out” with the volunteers. 

The village were so appreciative of our work that they provided us with four local people to help on the project. They really were very excited and grateful about the work of Orangutan Foundation.  By 8th August Bintang Mengalih will have clean water to drink at the turn of a tap!!


Elly (UK Volunteer Co-ordinator)

Our Earth Day Celebrations.

On the 22nd April Orangutan Foundation and Yayorin celebrated Earth Day with students from various schools at Sukamara, which lies close to the western part of the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve.

Earth Day

Together with the Yayorin Education Team, the school children took part in a full-day of activities, starting with ‘socialization’ or getting to know each other through a series of games, stickers and magazine were distributed. As well, it wouldn’t be Earth Day without any seedlings being planted! Together, the students planted 60 seeds from four indigenous plants at the Danau Burung Post.

Earth Day

The day ended with a film screening open to all, regardless of age, of various environment-related films, including a popular local film called “Laskar Pelangi” or Rainbow Warriors.

Environment related film screenings

Environmental film screenings



“If you had to know about me” by June Rubis (Orangutan Foundation’s Programme Manager)

The blog powers-to-be, who with an iron fist, gently encourages me to update on a regular basis, has informed me that a blog post featuring myself would be ‘interesting’. Alas, dear readers, because our vet has been busy in the field, and has not written new blog posts for a few weeks (which reminds me, I need to show him my own iron fist), and Stephen has left, leaving a vacuum of wrestling with crocodiles and dancing with orangutans blog posts, you now have to learn more about me.

Born and raised in Malaysian Borneo, I was fortunate to have parents who encouraged a love of reading. We had subscriptions to the National Geographic, Asiaweek, etc, all of which opened my mind to various global points-of-views. This was vital after all, I was living in a very government-controlled media, and the internet was still birthing. In the early 90’s, western environmentalists descended upon Sarawak to protest against logging. They chained themselves to tractors, they waved banners, and told us to save our rainforests. The local media mocked them, and made comments about their ‘obese size’. I, in return, was fascinated by the non-rebuttal the local media had, against these westerner’s claims.

I knew early on in my teens, that I wanted a career in conservation. If you would ask me what my defining moment was, I would say that it would be the early 90’s furore of early environmentalism, of the world’s spotlight onto Sarawak and its logging practices, and treatment of indigenous peoples, particularly the Penans.

After my BSc. studies (in Biological Sciences) from Simon Fraser University, I was fortunate to be selected for a summer internship at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum in Washington, D.C. I missed my graduation for this opportunity and have no regrets! However, I knew then that I wanted to return home and work in conservation, particularly orangutan conservation.

When I returned to Sarawak, I started working for Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Malaysia, as a field assistant, and working my way up to full-time researcher. I worked for WCS for over seven years, of which most of those years was spent surveying wild orangutans in Batang Ai National Park and Lanjak-Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary. Orangutan Foundation UK by the way, was responsible in giving my first grant to survey wild orangutans! I am grateful in coming full circle with this organization.

I was also very interested in the human face of conservation, other than wildlife research, so spent those same years, volunteering for a local nature society. Over time however, I became more sympathetic of the indigenous peoples struggles to save their lands from encroachment, and often being displayed as the bad guy by both sides! It was also personal because my peoples are the Krokong Bidayuh, which is a very small minority of Sarawak’s ethnic groups. My family’s continuing work to help preserve our culture through documentation, inspired me to seek other conservation opportunities, where there is a sincere collaboration with the local peoples.

I’ve always kept an eye on the Orangutan Foundation (OF), and its growth over the years. One thing that intrigued me was its close partnership with a strong local community organization, Yayorin. I value that OF recognizes its strengths, but also acknowledges that it can’t do all well hence entrusting the community work to a strong, committed organization. Believe me, Yayorin is a wholly equal partner to the work that we do, and I am fascinated that despite the seemingly clashing differences (i.e. conservation and locals people’s needs), OF and Yayorin are able to work as one, for similar goals. This was the opportunity I was searching for after I left WCS Malaysia (a wonderful and strong research organization by the way), and am thusly very grateful.

These last couple of months with OF have been very fulfilling and educational, and although I haven’t had the chance to jump in crocodile-infested rivers (although according to my culture, the crocodile is one of our ancestors so technically, I ought to be ok) or have other exciting field stories (current work demands my time at the OF office, and government offices), I promise perhaps one day, I’ll tell you about the time I was chased by a sunbear and came face-to-face with a 3 metre albino python. Or the time where I was less than a metre away on being grabbed by a wild male adult orangutan in the wilds of Lanjak-Entimau, Sarawak. The time I almost danced with an orangutan.