Orangutan Conservancy http://www.orangutan.com Orangutans are born with an ability to reason and think. Tue, 27 Jan 2015 00:31:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1 Orangutan News: Study Shows that Orangutan can Produce Faux Speech http://www.orangutan.com/5324/ http://www.orangutan.com/5324/#comments Tue, 27 Jan 2015 00:26:01 +0000 http://www.orangutan.com/?p=5324 Photo: courtesy of Adriano Lameira, University of Amsterdam

Photo: courtesy of Adriano Lameira, University of Amsterdam

by Shari Rudavsky for INDYSTAR.com

Think we humans are so special because we have the ability to speak, using specific sounds to denote different meanings?

Well, maybe we’re not so special.

An Indianapolis Zoo researcher, working with a lead author from the University of Amsterdam, has found that at least one orangutan living in captivity can produce both consonant and vowel sounds at a rapid rate that while unintelligible to the human ear qualifies as “faux speech.”

“It’s remarkable that we’re finding an orangutan that’s producing that stream of sounds that matches what humans do,” said Rob Shumaker, the Indianapolis Zoo’s vice president of Conservation, Science and Education.

The study appeared earlier this month in the online journal Plos One.

Primatologists have long believed that while a few great apes have been taught to use sign language, humans remained the only species with the physical flexibility to control and change their vocal sounds to communicate. When primates made sounds, it was thought, these noises were basically reflexive, involuntary responses, not deliberate ones.

Now, a 50-year-old orangutan named Tilda has turned those assumptions on end.

This excerpt from a news article appeared in and is courtesy of INDYSTAR.com and can be read in its entirety here.

Dr. Rob Shumaker is a Board member of the Orangutan Conservancy.

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OC Announces Project Support for 2015 http://www.orangutan.com/oc-announces-project-support-for-2015/ http://www.orangutan.com/oc-announces-project-support-for-2015/#comments Wed, 21 Jan 2015 18:23:07 +0000 http://www.orangutan.com/?p=5300  orangutan 2 with color revision 2


Along with offering our future support for conservation projects that may require emergency assistance, the Orangutan Conservancy is pleased to announce the projects that we’ll be supporting throughout 2015.


    • The OC/OVAG Veterinary Workshop

    • The Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP)

    • The Orangutan Kutai Project

    • The Orangutan Tropical Peatland Project (OuTrop)

    • Orangutan Haven


Please read more about these important and much-needed projects that collectively are working to ensure a better future for orangutans in the wild.

We’ll also be adding two new ventures to this group in the near future. 


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Conservation Commentary: What’s Good for People Is Good for Orangutans http://www.orangutan.com/conservation-commentary-whats-good-for-people-is-good-for-orangutans/ http://www.orangutan.com/conservation-commentary-whats-good-for-people-is-good-for-orangutans/#comments Fri, 16 Jan 2015 18:30:49 +0000 http://www.orangutan.com/?p=5295 Photo Courtesy of Nardiyono

Photo Courtesy of Nardiyono

by Erik Meijaard/The Jakarta Globe

As if life isn’t hard enough already for the orangutans of Borneo and Sumatra. Hammered by loss of their forest habitat and outright killing, they now face an additional man-made threat.

New research published in the journal Global Change Biology and in a report by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) has mapped areas of Borneo that could be affected by climate or land-cover changes this century, finding that up to 74 percent of present-day orangutan habitat could become unsuitable for this endangered species.

The study, led by scientists at the University of Kent and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Germany, discovered that from an estimated 260,000 square kilometers of Bornean orangutan habitat in 2010, 63 percent could become climatically unsuitable by 2080, but when also considering the effects of deforestation, up to 74 percent of habitat could be lost.

I assume that this news will not generate much interest. People will just consider it another bit of negative environmental information in a world that is already facing enough problems. Why worry about it?

But how different would it have been if the study had focused on people instead of orangutans and shown that 63 percent of Borneo would no longer be able to support human populations in the foreseeable future? Surely someone would have noticed (or at least screamed that the scientists were totally wrong). What I wonder though is whether this study of Bornean orangutans isn’t just as relevant to the people of the island.

This excerpt from a commentary piece is courtesy of the Jakarta Globe and can be read in its entirety here.

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Gober’s wild release on video http://www.orangutan.com/gobers-wild-release-on-video/ http://www.orangutan.com/gobers-wild-release-on-video/#comments Tue, 13 Jan 2015 17:42:40 +0000 http://www.orangutan.com/?p=5289

This video, supplied by the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP), follows the preparations for and release of Gober and her twins into the forest, which happened just last week.  See accompanying story below.

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Orangutan News: Challenging return to wild for formerly blind Sumatran orangutan http://www.orangutan.com/orangutan-news-challenging-return-to-wild-for-formerly-blind-sumatran-orangutan/ http://www.orangutan.com/orangutan-news-challenging-return-to-wild-for-formerly-blind-sumatran-orangutan/#comments Mon, 12 Jan 2015 15:43:10 +0000 http://www.orangutan.com/?p=5278 Gober

A formerly blind orangutan mother of twins was returned to a life in the wild in Aceh, Sumatra Indonesia as part of the work of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP).  The release of Gober took place in the conservation forest of Jantho, in Aceh, Indonesia.

Gober’s release was only possible due to groundbreaking cataract surgery in 2012 that restored her eyesight.   The twins are totally unique as they were born to parents who were both blind. Their father Leuser, who we wrote about in 2014 on the Orangutan Conservancy news site, lost his eyesight when he was shot at least 62 times with an air rifle.

Sadly, the plan to release Gober and both of her twin infants together did not work out as hoped. All three were released at the same time, but Ganteng did not take well to the forest environment and Gober struggled in the trees with two infants to watch out for. It was not long before she seemed to give up trying, and poor little Ganteng was left behind.

Gober and Ginting coped perfectly well, travelling through the canopy, finding food and building a huge nest for the night, little Ganteng spent his first night in the forest alone and afraid, cold and wet.

The following day, after seeing that his mother and sister where not coming back for him, SOCP staff were able to give Ganteng food and managed to usher him back to the safety of the onsite cages later that afternoon.

Speaking from Jantho on Wednesday, Dr. Ian Singleton said “The last couple of days have been an emotional roller coaster ride, for all of us but especially for Ganteng, and presumably for Gober and Ginting too. No one believed she would leave one of her twins behind, at least not so soon after release. We’re all a bit stunned at just how quickly it happened. Gober and Ginting are doing fine and it remains to be seen if they will try looking for Ganteng again or not.  In the meantime the most important thing is that all of them are safe.”

Video of the release can be seen in the post above.

Gober was originally rescued by the SOCP from an isolated patch of forest surrounded by palm oil plantations in 2008. As she was blind, she was raiding farmer’s crops to survive and would surely have been killed if left where she was. She was then cared for at the SOCP orangutan quarantine centre near Medan, North Sumatra.

Leuser, the father, will soon call Orangutan Haven home.  Orangutan Haven is being built by SOCP as a semi-wild home for unreleasable orangutans.

The Orangutan Conservancy helps to support the work of SOCP.

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Orangutan News: Study Says Endangered Orangutans May Have Hope Yet http://www.orangutan.com/orangutan-news-study-says-endangered-orangutans-may-have-hope-yet/ http://www.orangutan.com/orangutan-news-study-says-endangered-orangutans-may-have-hope-yet/#comments Fri, 09 Jan 2015 15:03:15 +0000 http://www.orangutan.com/?p=5274  

(photo : Wikimedia Commons)

(photo : Wikimedia Commons)

by Jenna Iacurci for Nature World News

A new study offers hope for endangered orangutans in Borneo, who are suffering due to deforestation and climate change.

“In order to identify eventual environmental refuges for the animals, we applied bioclimatic model simulations. Therefore, we used satellite images to map deforestation and estimate the changes in forest areas expected in the future. To predict the climate, the projections from four model and emission scenarios were combined. Additionally the land has to be unsuitable for oil palms, a major thread to orangutans,” David Gaveau, a scientist at the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in Indonesia, said in a statement.

Through these projections – made for the 2020s, 2050s and 2080s – scientists hope that they can save this endangered species.

“The study highlights the importance of conserving Borneo’s peat swamps, which are a home to large number of orangutans and are vital for climate change mitigation,” added researcher Serge Wich, who was involved in the study.

But hopefully through the methods these researchers used, they can better identify important ways of conserving this valuable species.

This excerpt from a news article appeared in and is courtesy of naturewn.com and can be read in its entirety here.

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OC Announces our New App for the New Year http://www.orangutan.com/oc-announces-our-new-app-for-the-new-year/ http://www.orangutan.com/oc-announces-our-new-app-for-the-new-year/#comments Wed, 07 Jan 2015 17:51:10 +0000 http://www.orangutan.com/?p=5263 e1eb0fcc-865b-4eb8-a776-46d80a8b5403

If you’re looking to have the Orangutan Conservancy with you on the go, then look no further than right here as we now have our very own app so that you can follow OC on your smartphone throughout the day wherever you are.  The conservation-themed app is totally free and offers orangutan enthusiasts a way to follow our work and news in real time. 

Keep up with current orangutan news on our landing page, learn more about the projects that we help to support, and also link in to Facebook and Twitter too, all in one handy app.  You can even watch videos on this app too, and we’ll be adding a lot of them in 2015.  A quick download of the app is available at the link above.

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2014 – Our Year in Review http://www.orangutan.com/2014-our-year-in-review/ http://www.orangutan.com/2014-our-year-in-review/#comments Mon, 29 Dec 2014 22:35:54 +0000 http://www.orangutan.com/?p=5133 Darwin 2013 - resized

Darwin has his hands (and feet too) full in this photo. So did the Orangutan Conservancy in our 16th year of operation.

2014 proved to be an eventful year for the Orangutan Conservancy, as we forged new paths in our mission of better protecting orangutans on many fronts.  While we continued supporting our core projects, we also began new alignments both in Indonesia and here in America.  Along with helping important on-the-ground projects in Asia through funding and logistical support, we also attended events here in the USA to increase public awareness about the plight of orangutans and their rainforest homes in the 21st century.

apeAPP phonesAs early 2014 kicked off, OC was chosen by Great Ape Survival Partnership (GRASP) as one of the few NGOS to be included on its innovative apeAPP.  With dedicated pages for all of the great apes, we were honored to be picked to represent the orangutan world.  ApeAPP is a clever portal for those seeking on-the-go info about ape conservation, and GRASP will debuting a new and even more exciting design in early 2015.  We also began a new relationship with Australia’s The Orangutan Project (TOP) and started promoting their orangutan adoption program.  The year was off to a fast start.

By March, the Orangutan Conservancy website had been transformed into an on-line location that people can depend on for regularly updated conservation news.  Providing capsulized news stories from outlets and publications around the globe, the OC landing page is a convenient one-stop location to keep up to date on orangutan news, commentary and information.   The third  month of the year was also special for us in that we gave a slew of “Save the Orangutan” wristbands to a third-grade life sciences class in Oregon, whose students have dedicated themselves to studying endangered animals – in particular the orangutan.  These conservation-minded kids have taken it upon themselves to teach P1050830_resizedtheir community about orangutans and the many threats facing these amazing apes, particularly palm oil.

In April, perhaps inspired by Earth Day, we began a new informal alliance here in America  – the California Orangutan Alliance - with the Orangutan Republic.  The purpose of this collaboration is to attend more live events together in the western United States, and increase the public’s awareness of orangutans and the enormous challenges of protecting their ecosystem.  The Orangutan Conservancy always seeks out like-minded collaborations, and we know this joint venture will allow us even more opportunities for face to face interaction with many interested people at gatherings across our state.  One of our first co-sponsored tables was at the WorldFest event in Los Angeles County in June. California Orangutan Alliance

Along with a spring round of project funding – highlighted by our first donation to Orangutan Haven - May found us promoting the first-ever “Rainforest Live” event that was spearheaded by the innovative team at the Orangutan Tropical Peatland Project (OuTrop).  The real-time, 24-hour event broadcast across social media provided a fresh and very timely view of the Indonesian rainforest.  Never has Facebook and Twitter offered such an insightful real-time view into the fragile ecosystem and home to orangutans and countless other species as well as some of the world’s most exotic flora and fauna.  We salute OuTrop and everyone involved for this clever combination of technology and conservation.

Knowledge, support and friendship are three components of the workshop

Knowledge, Support and Friendship are three components of the workshop

June is our busiest month at the Orangutan Conservancy, because it’s when we fund, stage and host the annual OC/OVAG Veterinary Workshop in Indonesia.  Hard working veterinarians that care for thousands of captive and wild orangutans come together just this one time a year to share their field knowledge and a full year’s worth of experiences. The event is truly a one-of-a-kind experience and provides an ongoing support system for the frontline heroes that care for so many injured and ill orangutans due to habitat loss, illegal hunting and human encroachment into their forest world.  The 6th Annual Workshop was the largest yet and was held at our new permanent home in Jogjakarta.  Our supporters make this event a reality each year and as you can see by the photo, the vets are very thankful for the opportunity to be in attendance.

In July, OC, along with four other orangutan groups, co-sponsored a debate/discussion in-situ that focused on the environmental positions of the candidates for the next President of Indonesia.  We are all hopeful that new President Joko Widodo, who took office in October, will honor the pledge his representative made at the debate to “take extraordinary law enforcement actions against violations in the fields of forestry and marine resources in Indonesia.”


The late days of summer found OC joining several organizations to promote and take part in International Orangutan Day.  The need for NGOs to join together and collectively share our strengths to benefit our forest friends was in ample view in August.  Following that, in September, we introduced our very first Orangutan Conservancy app.  The free conservation-themed software program offers a convenient way to keep up with us on our website, Facebook and Twitter all in one spot on your smartphone. The end of September started our association Amazon Smile.  For every purchase that shoppers make on Amazon Smile the internet sales giant gives a small donation to our work at the Orangutan Conservancy.  The month was capped off by OC’s participation in the International Day of Action for the Leuser Ecosystem, on the eve of the UN Climate Summit.


Dr. Russon and some of her team at the Orangutan Kutai project.


October had us energized as we funded no less than three projects. One of them, the Orangutan Kutai Project, which is headed up by our own Board member, Dr. Anne Russon, was featured in a terrific New Yorker article that same month, titled “An Orangutan Learns to Fish.”  As one of the world’s top primatologists, the portrayal of Dr. Russon’s orangutan ranging work in Kalimantan was fascinating and fun at the same time.  Other October highlights included; seeing our first ever orangutan scholarship recipient, Reza, receive his university degree in Environmental Sciences; introducing the Chester Zoo’s “Go Orange For Orangutans” campaign, which will help support our annual vet workshop, and joining a concerned coalition of conservation NGOs to draft a letter that was delivered to outgoing President SBY of Indonesia to encourage him to honor his as yet unrealized pledge to protect orangutans before his tenure expired.   We finished off this busy month by rushing emergency funding to OuTrop to help  their team fight the dry-season forest fires that were burning out of control near their Bornean site in the Sabangau Forest.


By November, the OC team had signaled our future commitment to being there for the team at the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme  (SOCP), and in particular for their future semi-wild home for orangutans in Sumatra, Orangutan Haven.  Unreleasable, injured or ill, orangutans will soon have pristine island homes built for them that will offer a sense of complete freedom. This special group of great apes, who would never survive alone in the wild, will find a green paradise and have room to spread out and feel as free as they should.  Ground has already broken for Orangutan Haven, with Dr. Ian Singleton and a large team of dedicated heroes working around the clock to bring this vision to reality.

Thanksgiving is held in America in November, and we couldn’t have been more thankful than to help support the evolution of this important project then and in the future.

The future semi-wild home for unreleasable orangutans is now being built

The future semi-wild home for unreleasable orangutans is now being built.

December still left time for some end-of-year business and we were glad to be able help the team at the Samboja Lestari/BOSF rescue and rehabilitation center in East Kalimantan, Borneo.  Caring for 200 orangutans there means a lot of staff and plenty of wear and tear on the coveralls.  As the giving season quickly approached, OC added a new Board member – Betty Dunbar – sent out our holiday cards in the mail – or rather, through email – and looked forward to the coming year and to what we can do in 2015 to help orangutans in bigger and better ways.  While we can’t predict where the calls will come from in the New Year, we are dedicated to being there to help give orangutans and their rainforest homes a fighting chance for survival.    We can only do that with you on our team, so please considering supporting our work by visiting our How To Help page, and help us in our mission in 2015.  Happy New Year!

Leuser, a blind orangutan, and recent dad, will be one of the future residents of Orangutan Haven

Leuser, a blind orangutan, and recent dad, will be one of the future residents of Orangutan Haven

OC provided new uniforms for the entire team at Samboja Lestari rescue center

OC provided new uniforms for the entire team at Samboja Lestari rescue center


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Tis the Season… http://www.orangutan.com/tis-the-season/ http://www.orangutan.com/tis-the-season/#comments Fri, 19 Dec 2014 20:10:18 +0000 http://www.orangutan.com/?p=5113 holiday card

orangutan 3 with color revision



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Three Ways To Help OC This Giving Season http://www.orangutan.com/three-ways-to-help-oc-this-giving-season/ http://www.orangutan.com/three-ways-to-help-oc-this-giving-season/#comments Wed, 10 Dec 2014 05:04:48 +0000 http://www.orangutan.com/?p=5102 Picture1


It’s that busy time of year when many people inquire with us about the best way they can help the Orangutan Conservancy to continue our mission of protecting orangutans and their rainforest home.  Of course, a donation, is always a direct and immediate way to show your support, but there are other ways to join our team as well at this festive time of they year.

Are you still busy shopping for your family and friends?  Amazon Smile, now offers a link to use, and for every purchase you make there, they’ll donate a small portion to the Orangutan Conservancy.  Amazon Smile is exactly the same Amazon that millions use around the world for their online shopping, but when you add the “smile” in, orangutans see some benefits too.  Here’s where you can go to support OC through Amazon Smile.

Holiday shoppers are always on the lookout for those last minute stocking stuffers, and we still have some of our popular “Save the Orangutan” wristbands available that will do the trick!. They look great and send a powerful conservation message for all to see.  You can click here to order the stocking stuffers wristbands that will put some orange in your life and on your wrist. 

Done shopping, done with the crowds, and ready to settle in for the holidays?  Well, there’s one more thing you might do before you get the hot chocolate brewing.  If you have an old cell phone that’s cluttering up your drawer space, and you can’t even remember when you last used it, maybe it’s time to think about sending it to OC.  We’ll recycle that old device for you and you’ll be making a nice contribution to our organization at the same time.

We will continue our work in 2015 so that more orangutans like this little one will  have a better chance for a brighter future, and we thank you for helping us to keep the Orangutan Conservancy mission going strong.


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