Tag Archives: Orangutan Foundation

The Story of Rawit


Rawit was found bound tightly to a tree.

Once again we are seeing what happens to orangutans when they are stranded in pockets of forest with oil-palm on one side and villages on the other. On 18th October, a female orangutan of around 4-5 years of age was rescued in Central Kalimantan. This is the story of Rawit, as sent by our vet just a few days ago.

BKSDA (Indonesian Nature Conservation Agency) staff received news from local police that villagers had a young orangutan in their possession that they wished to surrender.


Foundation staff collaborated with staff from BKSDA and Indonesian conservation organisation Centre for Orangutan Protection (COP) to rescue the orangutan, named Rawit.


Confiscation of Rawit



Members of BKSDA, COP and local police carried out the confiscation.

When the team arrived to confiscate Rawit, it was noticed immediately that her limbs were very swollen, especially her left wrist, as a result of being tied up.


Rawit’s limbs were swollen from ropes used to tie her to a tree.



Rawit in transit during the rescue.

Shortly after the rescue, Rawit was placed in the Foundation’s care. After a couple of days of being cared for by our staff, the swelling was significantly reduced and Rawit was able to grasp the side of her cage which she couldn’t before.



Foundation vet carrying out health checks on Rawit.



Rawit is now being cared for by the Orangutan Foundation.


Rawit has now joined our soft-release programme within the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve where staff will continue to monitor and support her progress until she is considered ready for release.

To help us provide Rawit and other orangutans on our soft-release programme with the very best care, please consider adopting an orangutan. All proceeds go directly towards supporting the Foundation’s soft-release programme.

New baby orangutan born in Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve

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

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

Enjoy the pics!

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

Spirit of Indonesia

Help save orangutans and their forest home and own a piece of unique art!

Bid online now for our beautiful and unique orangutan, ‘Spirit of Indonesia’,  which is part of Jungle City Edinburgh 2011.

Spirit of Indonesia front

The design is based on traditional Indonesian batik entwined with the biodiversity of the orangutan’s rainforest habitat.

Proceeds from the auction of Spirit of Indonesia will support our vital work.

Happy bidding and good luck!

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

Butterflies and birds – diversity of life!

The Orangutan Foundation is proud to support Indonesian students conducting research at Pondok Ambung Tropical Forest Research Station in Tanjung Puting National Park, Central Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. We want to encourage and help young Indonesian scientists and researchers.  Researchers in a boatYusi (at the front) and Harri (in the middle) conduting their research in Tanjung Puting National Park. Photograph by Brian MatthewsIn 2009, we provided two grants, one to Yusi Indriani for her research into the diversity of butterfly species around Pondok Ambung and one to Harri Purnomo for his research into the diversity of bird species. The students spent two months at Pondok Ambung conducting their research. Indonesian researcherYusi Indriani (in the middle) presenting her research results to Ashley Leiman (left), the Orangutan Foundation Director, Rene Bonke (right), a German Tomistoma researcher and Hudi DW (just left of centre), the Orangutan Foundation Programme Coordinator in Orangutan Foundation Pangkalan Bun office.butterfly at Tanjung Puting National ParkYusi recorded over 80 butterfly species. Orangutan FoundationI hope to bring you more news about Pondok Ambung and its amazing wildlife soon.Thank you,Hudi W.D.Orangutan Foundation Programme Co-ordinator

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

Orangutan Foundation out and about in the UK

The Orangutan Foundation office, in the UK, has been actively ‘spreading the word’ at recent fundraising events. Last Friday we were invited to have a stand at Thomas’ Battersea School, London, summer fair. We are very proud to be Thomas’s Middle School’s chosen charity for the next two years. The turn out was great and there was a great buzz with children dashing around taking part in various fun activities.

Elly at Bristol Wildlife Fair

Elly from the office.

Last weekend Elly and I, from the office, travelled to Bristol, in the Southwest of England to man our stand at the annual Bristol Festival of Nature. In spite of torrential rain the turnout was very good and a lot of people took an interest in our stand!

Orangutan Foundation Bristol Festival of Nature

The Festival is incredible, an imaginative weekend of films, animal encounters, exhibitions, walks, talks, workshops and competitions for all ages and interests. Thank you to everyone who came along and said hello. We would also like to thank Matthew and Julie our fantastic volunteers who helped drum up interest!

Support our work by visiting our online shop for palm-oil free soaps & candles, soft cuddly orangutan toys and much much more….


Kristina – Project Co-ordinator

Fire Fighting – Just a Duty or Dedication?

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

Forest Fire Fighting Award Ceremony

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

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

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

Motivation and team Building Session

Pak Hudi leading the motivation and team building session.

The team building and motivation sessions included various games:

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

Team building exercise

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

Team building exercise

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

Thank you,

Pak Hudi

Programme Coordinator, Orangutan Foundation UK

Fire breakout near border of Wildlife Reserve

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

Map Lamandau Wildlife Reserve -Bird Lake Post

Map showing Bird Lake Post on the Reserve Border.

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

Danau Burung (Bird Lake Post) Fire fighting Team.

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

Face to face with the fire wall

Face to face with the fire wall

Fire breakout - forest in the background

Trying to stop the fire – forest in the background

Fire breakout

Beating the fire

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

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

Tears for nature
Tears for naturetired and emotional.

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

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

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



Programmes Manager

“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.