Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Orangutans rock!

31st October 2011

Finally managed to go to the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation Orangutan sanctuary today. Mada and I went early in the morning and arrived there at 8:30am. The sanctuary, Samboja lodge, is deep in a forest owned by BOSF. When you turn off the main road you have to follow a road little more than a bumpy track, god knows how we managed it in the Kijang, you need a 4x4 really. If it was wet we would have got stuck at some point. Didn't help that we went straight past the sanctuary and on to the BOSF office further along the road!

They have over 250 Orangutans and over 50 sun bears there. We arrived at the eco lodge hotel where you can stay in a room overlooking the forest if you like. Its a really nice hotel too. We went up to the top and looked out over the forest for a while. After a drink we went to look for Orangutans.


PhotobucketThe Orangutans you can actually see are on two islands near the eco lodge. While we were there one of the islands had about 10 sick Orangutans on it - all of which had hepatitis B, somehow transmitted from humans who had taken them from their natural habitat for pets, they are not curable so will never be released back into the wild. The second island is a home for the Orangutans who will soon be released back into the wild. They are kind of rehabilitated at the sanctuary, and even go to school to brush up on how to live in the wild again.

PhotobucketYou cant go on the islands, you can just walk around the perimeter at the opposite side of the river, and you cannot go around the second island where the Orangutans about to be released live because they are trying to reduce their human interaction as much as possible.

One of the staff told us that the depth of the river has to be carefully monitored to ensure the Orangutans cant get off the island. The Orangutans cannot swim but they are clever and use sticks to measure the depth of the water, if its not too deep then they will cross it by walking and just keeping their head above the water. :P

PhotobucketWe saw about 8 of the 10 Orangutans on the island. One of them spent the whole time at the top of a really tall tree just chilling out, it looked so comfortable up there even though there were pretty much no branches at all.

PhotobucketMost of them were walking around hunting for food in groups, occasionally stopping to swing around in the play areas which are in abundance on the island. They seem to have so much fun swinging around and climbing. Some of them look so funky, almost like they have retro 70's or 80's hair cuts. :P



PhotobucketWe had a driver take us to see the sun bears too. They have 2 areas, one for older bears and one for the adolescent ones. I think the bears are here because its unknown how many are left in the wild.

PhotobucketWe got to walk right over their living area on a really sketchy narrow metal walkway with a rail only on one side that felt like if I put all my weight on it then it would have broken! One of the bears in the adult area was isolated because it had been starting fights all day. rar.

PhotobucketAfter the sun bears we went to the BOSF office tower which overlooks the forest. We climbed a really long spiral staircase to reach the top and the view was amazing, the breeze was pleasingly cool on this uber hot day! BOSF are rejuvenating the forest and after having seen pictures of it from 7 years ago you can really see the difference between back then and now from up there. They hope to release some of the Orangutans here in future as it is becoming increasingly difficult for them to find safe places for them to be released.

I'm not any kind of activist in any way but if you go to the Orangutan sanctuary its hard not to be touched by the amazing work that BOSF are doing. They only get half the money they need to look after the Orangutans they have from sponsors. Each Orangutan costs about 3 to 4 million rupiah (about £225 to £300) per month to look after, consider that the average Indonesian's salary is only about 1.1 million Rupiah.

The Orangutans live in the rain forests which are being destroyed more and more to plant kelapa sawit (oil palm) for bio fuel.. silly that people want more of it because its 'eco friendly' but they are cutting down swathes of rain forest to supply the demand, doesn't sound eco friendly to me. Goodbye rain forest, goodbye everything that lived there.

PhotobucketThen the Orangutans that are still in the forests have less forest to roam around and thus less food, so they go into the kelapa sawit plantations and eat them - so now they are seen as pests by the farmers and shot dead. One Malaysian company is even offering 1.5 million rupiah for every dead Orangutan, so actively encouraging people to wipe them out by offering a huge bounty that is more than one months salary for some people. There are some shocking pictures in the photo albums on display at the eco lodge (as well as many really nice ones).


BOSF Website http://www.sambojalodge.com/

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  1. Date is wrong! Says 31st november lol!

  2. Lol, thanks guv..

    Proof that I have no concept of date and time anymore!