Kate Looks Back At A Successful 2017 At Samboja Lestari!

Kate Looks Back At A Successful 2017 At Samboja Lestari!

Posted by Kate Helliwell on 22nd Jan 2018

Good morning from all at The Great Projects! Ready for a day of reflection? We’re heading across the globe and leaving you in the safe hands of our Samboja Lestari volunteer coordinator, Kate, who will be reflecting on her year of success at the project!

Our Goals From 2017

Our goal from 2017, with the volunteer donations and of course volunteer manpower, was to refurbish 3 manmade islands for orangutans, as well at to create a new baby orangutan playground for the new baby house. These are always big jobs, but we managed to achieve them thanks to our dedicated local team and our incredible volunteers.

Volunteers at Samboja Lestari

On top of this, we also started planting in our new area, creating a local fruit forest in an area of Samboja’s forest that has not been planted yet. The goal of this is to increase the diversity of trees in the area to attract even more wildlife to the forest. We planted approximately 1000 trees over a 3-hectare area and, in 5 to 10 years’ time, these trees will start to fruit and feed the forest.

Towards to the end of the year, we were also asked to help refurbish the fully staffed vet clinic on site. Although none of our team are experts in painting and decorating (lucky for us some of our volunteers were!), we got some tricky jobs down. With volunteer donations, we bought the materials and slowly patched up the building with help from some volunteers. It is really important that we have a safe, hygienic area for our animals to be treated, so we were more than happy to help.

Stand-Out Moments From Samboja

So of course, we appreciate all the help we can get and last year our construction projects progressed to get harder and tougher as we went. Luckily for us, we always get such enthusiastic volunteers who are ready to get stuck in and work together in a team to get the work done.

Starting with the beginning of the year: the task of building 4 platforms in 2 months was a massive feat and took a lot of cement-bucket carrying by multiple groups of volunteers to achieve. Once this island was finished, we had the pleasure of watching it become the new home for our oldest resident, Romeo, and two females previously confiscated from the circus. You can see a picture of Romeo relaxing on the island just below...

Romeo the orangutan

Before we had started work on the island, it had suffered years of destruction at the hands of skilled, releasable orangutans who had used the islands before beginning their lives in the wild. We managed with funding from our volunteers, their man power, and help from the keepers to create long-lasting climbing and enrichment structures that the new inhabitants have been making plenty of use of!

The baby playground sounded like a cute fun project, however talk to anybody who volunteered at that time and they will tell you the opposite! It was super hard work, but as you can see in the video below, it was completely worth it to see the enjoyment on the faces of our young orangutans. Big-ups to all the volunteers who helped dismantle and reconstruct the new baby playground!

Island 4, our next job, was again a tough one and we could not have done it without our trusted volunteers getting stuck in. Here, we had to start almost from scratch as this was the most dilapidated of all the islands. We built 3 concrete platforms, but we also erected 21 ironwood poles here, and collected many of these as dead wood from the forest. This was tough work, but certainly very rewarding.

Our final island was a little smaller, however here we built a large platform, erecting a nesting tree and 8 ironwood poles. This island is almost ready to go, and the keepers now need to join all of our structures together and it will be ready!

We also had the enrichment competition this year, which was a great way to get people thinking of new ways to occupy the residents here. To recap, The Great Projects' team invited individuals from around the world to come up with their own enrichment ideas which would be put into use here at Samboja Lestari, and the winner of the competition would have the opportunity to fly out to join us and to watch their enrichment activity in action. Of course, we had to pick a winner, and her idea is now a staple enrichment for orangutans and sunbears here at the sanctuary - well done, Jessie! I'd like to give a huge 'thanks' to everyone else who entered and took the time to come up with ideas. I wish I could have said yes to you all. (Psst - you can read all about Jessie's experience by clicking here!)

Feeding orangutans

Some Memorable Highlights…

The highlights of this year by far have to be our achievements to get our two oldest adult male residents and 4 females, all with unfortunate backgrounds, into better conditions. These six orangutans now have their freedom on our islands, where they will now live out the rest of their lives (you can read about some of this year's orangutan releases by clicking here.) All the funds and hard work from the volunteers made this possible as we spent months building long-lasting shade structures and climbing structures, and installing enrichment on the islands to make them ready for our long-term residents. Without all this hard work, we would not have been able to create such an orangutan-friendly environment that will last them for many years to come.

Orangutan in the wild

Before I close off today's blog post, I would just like to say a huge thank you to every volunteer that has helped to make a difference at Samboja Lestari, and to all of those who are looking to volunteer with us in the coming months! I can't wait to meet you all!

Want to be a part of Samboja’s future successes? Find out how by checking out our project page!

Volunteering in Borneo


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