In pictures: Orangutan conservation in Borneo – FFA

Orangutan populations are on the decline, however organisations like Worldwide Animal Rescue are working onerous to guard them. Right here, a snapshot of its conservation work, from reforestation to rescue and launch

Relating to orangutan conservation, how does one measure success? For Gavin Bruce, CEO of Worldwide Animal Rescue (IAR) the reply is easy: “One of the best day ever can be that on which we’re in a position to shut our rescue centre as a result of it’s now not wanted.” 

It’s a press release that encapsulates the imaginative and prescient of IAR and YIARI (the organisation’s Indonesia-based companion), that are working to guard and preserve Borneo’s orangutans. “Our final objective is for wildlife to be residing safely in sustainable ecosystems and for communities to be wholesome and prosper,” says Bruce. “With this strategy we take into account each animal rescue a failure – as a result of it shouldn’t should occur.” 

It’s a holistic, preventative strategy that’s working: up to now seven years the variety of rescues YIARI has carried out has fallen by 93 per cent. Welcome information when international populations of ‘the person of the forest’ are dealing with precipitous decline. The Borneo orangutan, one in every of three species of the mammal, was numbered at roughly 230,000 in 1920. In 2020, there have been simply over 62,000. 

Right here’s how IAR and YIARI strategy conservation.

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Forest safety and monitoring

A major risk to orangutans is habitat loss as a consequence of deforestation and wildfires. Shrinking forests put immense stress on orangutans and result in human-wildlife battle, so one of many programmes arrange by YIARI is ‘Energy of Mama’, a community-led fire-prevention initiative that has all-women groups of volunteers engaged on the frontlines of forest conservation and safety.

Energy of Mama girls journey by motorcycle searching for undetected fires. Picture: Muffidz Ma’sum

They scout for fires and work to forestall them by educating their communities and inspiring farmers to reject the slash-and-burn agricultural practises which might be detrimental to the world’s biodiversity, and that put their villages’ well being, lives and livelihoods in danger.


Reforestation is a vital side of IAR’s strategy. YIARI crops timber in areas the place forests have been misplaced to fireside, on land degraded by poor farming strategies and in strategic corridors the place it’s attainable to reconnect fragmented forest. In a single 240-hectare space destroyed by fireplace in 2015, 125,000 seedlings have been planted. 

Tree-planting in West Kalimantan, Borneo. Picture: Heribertus Suciadi

Natural farming and different livelihoods

“The destiny of Bornean forests [and thus, orangutans] is inextricably linked to the wellbeing and prosperity of the people who stay there,” says Bruce. Safeguarding livelihoods by working with farmers and communities is subsequently pivotal to the preservation of the species.

At its rescue centre in Ketapang, West Kalimantan province (Borneo), YIARI has established an natural farming demonstration space, which is having a constructive affect on native farming strategies and crop yields. It employs greater than 300 native folks and in addition to decreasing threats to nature, its neighborhood enterprise initiatives similar to forest patrols and agroforestry assist the event of sustainable livelihoods and improve prosperity of the encircling communities.

A lady weaves a basket from pandanus leaves. Picture: Heribertus Suciadi

Schooling and neighborhood outreach

“The facilitators who work with us are unbelievable. They’re from the villages we’re concerned with and the work they do is culturally aligned with these communities,” says Bruce. “We’re taking a listening strategy slightly than a dogmatic one – and it actually works.” One instance of how this strategy has succeeded is on the perimeter of the park the place YIARI releases a lot of its rescued orangutans.

Faculty kids partake in a litter selecting occasion facilitated by YIARI. Picture: Heribertus Suciadi

There had been a variety of poaching and unlawful logging within the space and the YIARI crew realized that with out the revenue from these actions, native households couldn’t afford their kids’s college charges. To launch the stress on the households, YIARI put collectively a scholarship programme for the village’s kids – and the constructive affect for the neighborhood has rippled into the forest, too. 


Inevitably, rescues nonetheless must happen. Because it was established in 2009, YIARI’s rescue centre has been a sanctuary to greater than 250 orangutans who’ve been rescued from the unlawful wildlife commerce, displaced by habitat loss or fallen sufferer to human-wildlife battle. “At our rescue centre we presently have 65 orangutans which might be present process rehabilitation, and we hope to launch nearly all of them into the wild.” 

An orangutan is rescued from a deforested space. Picture: Alejo


Not all rescued orangutans must be rehabilitated, nevertheless. Typically displaced animals transfer into farming areas, and this will increase the danger of human-wildlife battle. When an orangutan is reported in an agricultural space, the YIARI crew assesses the scenario and, the place attainable, works with the village on mitigation measures. If needed, the crew will take away the animal, give it a well being verify or medical consideration if wanted, after which relocate it to a secure space that may maintain it.

Jhon the orangutan is translocated in 2020. Picture: Rudiansyah


Sadly, nearly all of orangutans rescued by YIARI must be rehabilitated and study the life abilities essential to stay within the wild. Some must spend seven years or extra within the rescue centre, however time spent there’ll depend upon how lengthy the orangutan lived in forests beforehand, and the way outdated it was when it was rescued. 

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“An orangutan will stay six or seven years with its mom,” explains Bruce. “If it spent two or three years with its mum within the wild then rehab time is way faster as a result of it already has some fundamental abilities; if the orangutan involves the centre as a younger child then we’re ranging from scratch and want to duplicate each stage of studying that may come naturally within the wild.”

Kukur the orangutan begins forest college. Picture: Heribertus Suciadi

Repopulation and surrogacy

The rehabilitation course of is designed to reflect life within the wild, and is rooted in scientific research. It’s frequently being refined and one thing YIARI has had success with in recent times is surrogacy: an toddler orangutan might be positioned with an appropriate older feminine. The 2 type a social bond and the teen learns life abilities from its surrogate mom, permitting it to spend considerably much less time within the rehabilitation centre – two or three years, versus six or seven. The pairs are launched collectively in areas the place the orangutan inhabitants has been fragmented, they usually carry beneficial genetic range to the area.

Monti is launched to child Anggun in 2020 to see if they’re appropriate for surrogacy. Picture: Heribertus Suciadi


The primary launch website for the orangutans YIARI rescues is the huge Bukit Baka Bukit Raya Nationwide Park in West Kalimantan. Logistically it’s an infinite problem to get the orangutans to the centre of the jungle for his or her launch, but it surely’s a super location because the park has been recognized as having a low density of untamed orangutans (that are extremely territorial animals). When an orangutan is launched, the park-based YIARI crew screens its physique situation and feeding habits for a couple of months; it’s impractical to collar or tag the animals so groups should comply with the brand new releases on foot.

Bujing is launched into Bukit Baka Bukit Raya Nationwide Park in 2019. Picture: Heribertus Suciadi

“The programme YIARI has put collectively is superb,” says Bruce. “What they do every day and what they’ve achieved in a comparatively quick house of time is clear in the truth that the variety of orangutan rescues has diminished – and that basically is credit score to their wider, complete conservation efforts.”

Most important picture: Heribertus Suciadi