The Orangutan Project

Organisations wishing to sponsor Wildlife Asia or The Orangutan Project are invited to call Michael Kerr, Fundraising Manager, on 0432 926 435.

About The Orangutan Project

The Orangutan Project (TOP) is a not-for-profit organisation, supporting orangutan conservation, rainforest protection, local community partnerships and the rehabilitation and reintroduction of displaced orangutans back to the wild, in order to save the two orangutan species from extinction.

TOP is a non-partisan organisation that collaborates with several orangutan conservation projects, as well as providing habitat protection through its own programs to deter wildlife poaching, illegal logging and land clearing in Indonesia.

The organization provides technical and financial assistance directly to conservation projects and orangutan rescue and rehabilitation centres. This includes much needed resources for the day-to-day care needs, the reintroduction of orphaned orangutans and the locating and securing of release sites. Presently there are over 2,000 orphaned orangutans living in care centres in Borneo and Sumatra.

The objectives of the TOP have many flow-on effects that both protect other Critically Endangered Species, such as the Sumatran tiger, elephant and rhino, as well as indigenous communities and the remaining rainforest in Borneo and Sumatra.

Saving the rainforest is the single most cost-effective way to save our planet. The reduction of the rainforest accounts for approximately 20% of global warming – more than all the transport systems in the world put together. Protecting the rainforest means protecting the lifeblood of our earth, and our vital stores of carbon.

The orangutan’s rainforest habitat is disappearing at an unprecedented rate. 80% of the orangutan’s rainforests has been decimated in the past 20 years. Much of what remains is degraded by drought, forest fires and illegal logging. This destruction is also inflicting a massive amount of suffering on a species that is 97% genetically identical to humans, intelligent as a 5 to 6 year old child and is self-aware. Tragically, extinction in the wild is likely for both Sumatran and Bornean orangutans if we do not take immediate action.
TOP aims to ensure the survival of orangutans in the wild within available populations and their welfare. This is done by conducting TOP’s own work and assisting other accredited conservation projects according to the most effective outcomes for the species.

TOP currently supports a variety of projects in Borneo & Sumatra, Indonesia. A summary can be found below.

Wildlife Wardens: Kinabatangan Orangutan Conservation Programme

The goal of the programme is to achieve long-term viability of orangutan populations in Sabah. The programme’s objective is to restore harmonious relationships between people and the orangutan, which in turn will support local socio-economic development compatible with habitat and wildlife conservation.

Sabangau Peat Swamp Restoration

Environmental damage caused by illegal logging in the Sabangau Forest in Central Kalimantan has left the whole ecosystem at risk. AOP will provide $50,000 AUD in 2009-2010 to support the protection and restoration of orangutan habitat in the Sabangau peat swamp forest.

Sumatran Orangutan Ecotourism Development Programme in Bukit Lawang
Bukit Lawang offers visitors an extraordinary opportunity to view wild and semi-wild orangutans. In order to preserve the site for the future and protect the development of the local orangutans, tourism standards at the site require critical attention. TOP is providing financial support to assist the Orangutan Ecotourism Development Programme transform Bukit Lawang into a world renowned ecotourism site.

Kinabatangan Orangutan Conservation Project

KOCP was set up in 1998, aiming to achieve long-term viability of orangutan populations in Sabah. Only recently, in 2005, was the 26,000ha Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary established. Wardens play a crucial ‘on ground’ role in ensuring the proper maintenance of this area and its orangutan population, and TOP has an ongoing history of support for the KOCP Honorary Wildlife Warden programme.

Camp Buluh Orangutan Release Site: Lamandau Reserve

The Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve conservation area has become a site for the release of ex-captive orangutans into the wild. The Orangutan Foundation supports camps in the Reserve for releasing and monitoring ex-captive orangutans. Since 2005, AOP has been supporting the operation of one of these camps – Camp Buluh on the Buluh River – including funding initiatives that have successfully brought down the number of cases of illegal logging in the area.

South Central Kalimantan

Promoting conservation and sustainable management of lowland forests
A designated conservation area since 1998, the Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve is one of only a few release sites for rehabilitated orangutans in Indonesia. In 2007, the Lamandau Ecosystem Conservation Partnership was established to maintain the tropical forests of the Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve and surrounding forests as a functioning tropical forest ecosystem. In 2009-2010 TOP will contribute $15,000 to fund actions required to help achieve the goals of this project.

Orangutan Caring Scholarships

Established in 2006, the Orangutan Caring Scholarship awards talented and disadvantaged Indonesian students with tuition funding, to complete postgraduate programs in Forestry and Biology. Through the program, recipients develop an understanding of the plight of the orangutan, and graduate as an advocate of orangutan conservation. TOP is fully funding two such scholarships.

Tripa Swamp Protection

Tripa, North Sumatra, is one of only six remaining populations for the critically endangered Sumatran orangutan and also has amongst the highest densities of orangutans anywhere in the world. Palm oil companies are destroying the forest here, and the total destruction of the remaining forest is predicted within less than five years if appropriate action is not implemented quickly.

Sungai Pengian Station: Sumatran Orangutan Reintroduction Site

Bukit Tigapuluh National Park, located in the provinces of Jambi and Riau in Sumatra, is the site of the only Sumatran orangutan reintroduction centre; Sungai Pengian. Sumatran orangutan populations are now considered Critically Endangered, and currently number less than 7% of what existed in 1900. With approximately only 6,300 left in the wild and a current rate of loss of approximately 1,000 per year, it is imperative that viable released populations are built up outside of the troubled Aceh province.

Wildlife Protection Units

The Wildlife Protection Units (WPU), funded by AOP, are responsible for patrolling the Bukit Tigapuluh National Park and the ‘buffer zone’ surrounding its borders, to help secure the released Sumatran orangutan population and its habitat in Bukit Tigapuluh, and to stop and prevent illegal logging as the major threat to orangutan habitat. To date, the WPU have been highly successful in deterring illegal activities within the National Park, including logging.

Nyaru Mentang Care Centre

The Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Reintroduction Project is situated 28km outside of Palangka Raya, the capital of Central Kalimantan. It is located within the boundaries of the Nyaru Menteng Arboretum, a 62.5 ha lowland peat-swamp forest ecosystem, founded in 1988 by the Ministry of Forestry Regional office of Central Kalimantan. The project aims to rescue orangutans that have been displaced from their habitat or held in captivity as illegal pets, and through quarantine and half-way housing release them back into their natural environment.

Batu Mbelin Care Centre

The Quarantine Centre of SOCP is called Batu Mbelin. It is located near the small village of Sembahe in North Sumatra. Because of its quarantine status, the site is not open to visitors. Most of the staff at the Quarantine centre are from the local villages and the majority of the orangutans’ food stuffs are locally produced fruits and vegetables. The SOCP has managed to foster an excellent ‘community spirit’ and they enjoy a great deal of support from the indigenous Karo Batak people.

IAR Orangutan Rescue Centre West Kalimantan

International Animal Rescue (IAR) signed an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) in August 2009 with the Forestry Department in West Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo, agreeing on plans for the rescue, rehabilitation and relocation of orangutans that have lost their forest habitat to make way for oil palm plantations

Long-Term Accommodation for Orangutans that Cannot be Released to the Wild
The vast majority of orangutans received at the SOCP quarantine centre are fit and healthy and can be transferred to one of the two reintroduction centres for the species in Jambi and now in Jantho (Aceh). However, on occasions we receive orangutans with serious medical concerns or disabilities (injuries) that prevent them from being returned to the wild.

If you would like to sponsor a Wildlife Asia project please contact Clare Campbell. Director at or Ph +61438992325


Coming soon!


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