Bornean Orangutan is Critically Endangered!
The Bornean orangutan is now Critically Endangered. If nothing changes, a third of the remaining population will be wiped out by 2020.
The Indonesian rainforest is vanishing before our eyes, with studies suggesting that over 2.5 million acres are lost every single year. Everyday, orangutans are forced out of their forest homes and left to die. Many starve to death or are killed when they venture into farmland or villages in the search for food.
If we are to have any hope for the survival of this species, we must all take action. We are in a crisis, and we are running out of time.
TAKE ACTION NOW...
We are the last and only hope for orangutans in West Borneo and we urgently need your help now, before it is too late. Please join the fight to save this species today.
WHAT WE'RE DOING...
The plight of the orangutan in Indonesia has reached a critical stage, with the survival of the species under serious threat. Animals are suffering and dying because of the systematic destruction of the rainforest, primarily for palm oil production, particularly in Kalimantan, the Indonesian part of the island of Borneo.
International Animal Rescue’s team is working in West Kalimantan to rescue and care for baby orangutans that have been taken from their mothers to be illegally sold as pets and adults that have spent their entire lives in captivity, chained up or imprisoned in tiny cages. Our Orangutan Protection Unit also comes to the aid of orangutans left stranded when their forest home is destroyed and translocates these vulnerable animals to safe areas of protected forest. Any animals that can no longer survive in the wild will be given a permanent home at the centre.
The project is an ambitious one but we are committed to rescuing and rehabilitating as many orangutans as we can and giving them a second chance to live safely in their natural environment.
IAR has always taken a pragmatic approach to conservation in Indonesia, understanding that we must work within the country’s existing landscape, and cultural, economic and political context. All existing orangutan habitat is to some extent being shaped by human activities, and in West Kalimantan the predominant land use is for agriculture, both for local smallholdings and larger industrial plantations, principally for the cultivation of oil palm.
If wild orangutans are to survive, it is imperative that there is enough forest in these different landscapes, and orangutans are able to move from one forest patch to another, to ensure breeding opportunities and genetic diversity. To facilitate this, IAR works with the local and national governments of Indonesia, the private sector, other NGOs and consultancy firms, and international certification schemes.
We are committed to protecting as much orangutan habitat as possible, when given the opportunity IAR will always buy more land to expand our centre and protect as much of our neighbouring forest as possible. For example in 2017 we purchased 64 acres of forest, increasing our centre's size by 20%.
Forest Corridors and Tree Planting
In one plantation near to our centre, we are also exploring ways in which we can connect High Conservation Value areas, beginning to trial different natural and artificial corridors, and assessing how they affect orangutan movement patterns. Corridors like this are increasingly important, and IAR is currently collaborating on an ambitious, multi-stakeholder project to link two of the largest orangutan populations in West Kalimantan, the more southerly Sungai Putri forest block, a highly threatened 55,000 hectare coastal peat swamp forest that contains a possible 1200 orangutans, with the more northerly Gunung Palung National Park, and its estimated 1000 orangutans. This corridor project will go through three separate palm oil concessions and multiple villages. If successful, it would make a substantial contribution to the conservation of orangutans in this province.
Another key area which IAR is working to protect is the Community Forest of Pematang Gadung and Sungai Besar. This forest, about two hours from our centre in Sungai Awan, contains a large population of orangutans, as well as gibbons, tarsiers, slow lorises, macaques, proboscis monkeys, crocodiles and numerous bird species. Its 14,000 hectares of coastal peat swamp habitat is some of the most biodiverse on earth, but despite being officially protected under the Indonesian government’s Community Forest scheme, the forest has been subjected to logging, clearing for agriculture, mining and forest fires. We have been working with the local communities to develop a reforestation programme which will help to restore the burnt areas of the forest. The project started in 2016 and so far a total of eight hectares have already been planted.
We are dedicated to inspiring and empowering local farmers to play a part in protecting the forest which they depend on for their livelihood. For many years, farmers have used the practice of ‘slash and burn’ to clear land for cultivation. However, this method is not only unproductive for farmers, it also plays a huge part in the widespread devastation caused by forest fires during the dry months. In order to protect precious orangutan habitat from these unsustainable farming methods, we have established a programme encouraging the use of organic farming techniques.
At IAR’s orangutan rescue centre there is a small training facility where local farmers can come and learn about organic farming. Organic techniques use livestock manure and food waste as non-chemical fertilisers and ginger as a natural pesticide.
By encouraging and teaching these methods, we are helping to reduce the reliance on slash and burn farming and so too the risk of forest fires. As well as being better for the environment, this method is also cheaper and produces a much higher crop yield per hectare. We are also inspiring the younger generation to learn about the benefits and techniques of organic farming through our work with The Learning Farm organisation.
To encourage local farmers to adopt these methods and stick with them, their produce is purchased at a competitive rate by our own orangutan rescue centre and also by local supermarkets.
One of our most successful recent programmes involves our conservation camps, which take place in the forest of Pematang Gadung. These camps are targeted at local teenagers, to develop and foster their interest in conservation, encourage them to become active stewards in the protection of Ketapang’s natural resources, and show them how decisions they make in their everyday lives can impact on the environment. Each conservation camp lasts three days and includes many different interactive activities, games and presentations, with the main event occurring on the second day, when participants are taken into the forest for a trek, visiting three pre-prepared learning posts. Teams are divided into three learning groups, so they reach the forest learning posts at different times, reducing the noise impact on the forest.
The first day is all about forest ecosystems, and participants are taught about basic forest ecology and the ecological services the forest supplies. The second day is specifically about orangutans, their ecology, the threats to their survival, how to protect them, and the work IAR does to conserve them. The added benefit of conducting these activities in the Pematang Gadung Community Forest is that wild orangutans are often spotted, giving us a very useful free teaching assistant. The third day teaches about sustainability and green living, and the 5Rs of environmental practices - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Replant and Replace.