International Orangutan Day Poetry Contest Winners Announced

orangutan art by Mark M.   From August 15th through the 19th the Orangutan Conservancy celebrated International Orangutan Day with our poetry contest.  Our four contest winners - Bobby, Thomas Paul and Tessa - will receive a print of this beautiful original orangutan artwork that was created by artist Mark McGinnis.  You can see the great poetry on our Facebook page.

Orangutan News: Baby Orangutan Rescued From Illegal Owner in Aceh

photo courtesy of: ANTARA FOTO/Irsan Mulyadi

photo courtesy of: ANTARA FOTO/Irsan Mulyadi

from the Jakarta Globe

A rescue team consisting of activists and provincial conservation officers evacuated a Sumatran orangutan baby from an Army post in East Aceh on Sunday.

As reported by environmental news website Mongabay Indonesia, the one-year-old orangutan female was found badly malnourished with several wounds on her body, possibly caused by a blunt object used to paralyze the animal.

After giving her food and vitamins, the rescue team will send the orangutan to the Batu Mbelin Quarantine Center in Deli Serdang, North Sumatra, for medical treatment due to her critical condition, said Panut Hadisiswoyo, director of the Sumatra Lestari Orangutan Foundation-Orangutan Information Center, as quoted by Mongabay.

The website also reported that Abu, a resident of Simpang Jernih district, kept the orangutan baby on his estate for a year after claiming that she had been abandoned by her mother. He later left the youngster at the Army post.

“It’s impossible for orangutan mothers to leave their babies,” said Krisna, a representative of the Orangutan Information Center, as quoted by Mongabay.

Orangutans are easily captured and hunted in the Mount Leuser National Park due to massive deforestation, stranding orangutans in ever shrinking habitats, limiting their movements and making them vulnerable to hunters.

This excerpt from a news article appeared in and is courtesy of the Jakarta Globe and can be read in its entirety here.

The Orangutan Conservancy is pleased to be able to help support the work of the Orangutan Information Center in Sumatra.

posted by: Tom


Orangutan News: Bornean Orangutan Declared ‘Critically Endangered’ As Forests Shrink

A Bornean Orangutan in Sabangau Forest, Indonesia. Photo by Bernat Ripoll Capilla courtesy of OuTrop

A Bornean Orangutan in Sabangau Forest, Indonesia. Photo by Bernat Ripoll Capilla courtesy of OuTrop

by Loren Bell for Mongabay

The Bornean orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) is now critically endangered according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). This change means that both species of orangutan now face an “extremely high risk of extinction in the wild.”

“This is full acknowledgement of what has been clear for a long time: orangutan conservation is failing,” Andrew Marshall, one of the authors of the assessment, told Mongabay. Regardless of any positive outcomes of past conservation efforts, they have not achieved the only meaningful goal: a stable or increasing population.

Published this week, the new IUCN assessment finds that hunting, habitat destruction, habitat degradation and fragmentation are the biggest drivers behind the population loss.

In 2010, only 59.6% of Borneo’s forests were suitable for orangutans. And, while much of this land is technically protected by the Indonesian, Malaysian and Brunei governments, illegal logging and uncontrolled burning are still continual threats.

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

posted by: Tom


Conservation Perspective: Can Oil Palm Plantations and Orangutans Coexist?

Photo Credit: Eye Ubiquitous/UIG via Getty Images

Photo Credit: Eye Ubiquitous/UIG via Getty Images

By Melati Kaye  for Scientific American

I have been hiking through an oil palm plantation in Borneo for hours but have yet to see a single oil palm. Instead, mahogany and other native tree species tower overhead. Mushrooms, flowers and huge pitcher plants line my trail, uniquely adapted to the island’s peat swamp forests. This lush portion of the plantation should be ideal habitat for orangutans. I have not spotted any, but according to Hendriyanto, my guide from the plantation’s conservation team, an estimated 14 of the red apes do indeed live here.

But one step outside this refuge lies a very different scene: blistering tropical heat and regimented rows of spiky oil palm trees spread over miles of ochre mud that turns to deep, rutted puddles after a drizzle. Borneo’s forest-to-plantation ratio has plummeted in recent decades.

From an ape’s point of view, the plantation vista presents an uninhabitable hellscape. From an industry standpoint, it is a prospect of burgeoning revenue.

Orangutan-friendly forests once provided contiguous habitat for the tree-dwelling apes throughout South and Southeast Asia, from India to China to Indonesia. Human settlement shrank and fragmented the forest range, and with it the orangutan population.

These peatlands were once deemed too remote and nutrient-poor for agriculture. With the advent of large-scale logging and plantations, however, they started getting cleared for development. The oil palm boom of the 1970’s kicked deforestation into hyperdrive.

This excerpt from an online article appeared in and is courtesy of Scientific American and can be read in its entirety here.


posted by: Tom


Orangutan Kutai Project: Field Update 2016

Morio from Anne 2016 - Copy

Morio orangutan near Kutai National Park in Borneo

Dr. Anne Russon of the Orangutan Kutai Project is one of the world’s top orangutan experts, and we are very fortunate to also have her on the board of the Orangutan Conservancy.  Her research work on orangutan ranging has been going on for several years in Borneo and OC is pleased to be able to help support this important study.  Russon recently sent us an update of the working going on near Kutai National Park and this is a small excerpt of that report.  We will be publishing the full report in the near future on the “Our Projects” page of our website.

by Anne Russon

Orangutan Kutai Project, Kutai NP, E. Kalimantan

We are now in our sixth year of orangutan research and conservation work in Kutai National Park (KNP), East Kalimantan Indonesia. KNP is home to the only remaining large wild population of E Bornean orangutans in Indonesia, but it has been seriously threatened by human “development” for decades in the form of settlements, mines, plantations, and two massive forest fires.  Only last year, 60,000 ha of KNP’s 190,000 ha were excised to legalize illegal settlements inside its boundaries.

The research site we established in 2010 is along the Sangatta River, the park’s nothern boundary. It overlaps Mentoko, the site of Rodman’s orangutan research in 1970-71 – the first wild orangutan research in Indonesia – so it offers an exceptional opportunity to compare KNP orangutans’ behavior now, when this forest is recovering from serious damage, and 1970-71, when it was near pristine.

To assess how well KNP’s orangutans are coping, our studies have focused on basic functional behavior (feeding, diet, travel, activity budgets) and feeding ecology (plant food species and their distribution, seasonality).

Findings to date

Mentoko area forest represents habitat recovering from damage. Recovering damaged habitat is important to conservation in supporting wildlife, since little pristine habitat remains. To assess how well Mentoko area orangutans are faring in recovering habitat, we compared our findings for 2010-12 (12-15 yrs natural regeneration from 1997-98 severe drought/fire damage) with those for near-pristine conditions (1970s) and 0-4 years regeneration from 1982-83 severe drought/fire damage (1983-87).  Mentoko area forest was in better condition in 2010-12 than 1983-87, but different from near-pristine. Resident orangutans’ activity patterns had recovered to near-pristine values, after diverging from them early after damage. E Bornean orangutans have been recognized for their great resilience and exceptional diet flexibility is probably an important contributor; it was probably a key contributor to their surviving these disastrous droughts and fires.


Anne Russon speaks at OC’s anniversary event in 2015

A second research theme has been identifying Mentoko orangutans’ travel routes, as a first step in understanding what they know about where resources are located, when they are are available, and how to navigate to them. Continue reading »

posted by: Tom