Orangutans were once widespread across southeast Asia, but today are only found in fragmented sub-populations on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo. In recent decades, these orangutans are increasingly threatened by a variety of issues, in particular loss of habitat and killing, and their numbers have severely declined as a result. All three orangutan species are classified as Critically Endangered by the IUCN.
Born Free funds the crucial work of the Orangutan Foundation. This initiative works to conserve wild orangutans in the forests of Borneo by protecting orangutan habitat and rescuing and rehabilitating young orangutans orphaned by the illegal wildlife trade.
ORANGUTAN CONSERVATION EFFORT
LOCATION: Central Kalimantan, Borneo, Indonesia, Asia.
GOAL: To protect wild orangutans from wildlife traffickers and poachers and to return rescued orangutans back to the wild via a soft-release programme.
THREATS: Orangutans were once widespread across southeast Asia, but today they are found on only two islands: Borneo and Sumatra. There are three species of orangutan: two in Sumatra, and one in Borneo. They are all under threat from habitat loss, due to mining, logging, and palm oil development.
It it is estimated that 80% of their forest habitat has been lost in the past three decades. Illegal hunting is another significant threat: many orangutans are shot and killed, and their orphaned infants may become illegal pets.
ACTIONS: The Orangutan Foundation has been working hard for over two decades to protect orangutan populations and their habitat in Central Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo.
The Orangutan Foundation’s work includes:
- preserving currently existing protected areas;
- creating new conservation areas to safeguard orangutan populations;
- conducting daily foot patrols and monitoring forests for signs of illegal activity and degradation;
- preventing deforestation;
- reducing illegal activities in Tanjung Puting National Park and Lamandau Wildlife Reserve;
- ensuring local communities, who live alongside orangutans, are involved in and supportive of conservation initiatives;
- rescuing and reintroducing back to the wild injured or orphaned individuals; and
- fighting forest fires in orangutan habitat.
With support from Born Free, the Orangutan Foundation provides continuous care for Timtom. Timtom is a young female orangutan, rescued from the illegal pet trade in 2016 when she was nine months old.
The Orangutan Foundation’s soft-release programme, spread across five release camps within the forest, cares for young, orphaned orangutans. It helps them to learn vital skills and prepare themselves for a future in the wild.
The young apes are taken out into the forest every day to play and learn in a natural environment. They are cared for until they are old enough and have developed the necessary skills to be released into the wild. 23 orphaned orangutans have graduated from this programme, with another six, including Timtom, currently in the process.