March Updates From The Samboja Lestari Orangutan Project!

March Updates From The Samboja Lestari Orangutan Project!

Posted by Connor Whelan on Mar 31, 2016

March was the first month that volunteers were back at the Samboja Lestari Orangutan Project this year and our volunteer coordinator Kate has told us all about the progress that was made! The volunteers have achieved a lot over the last month and this shows why they are so important to the project. Let’s see what they got up to!

March has been a great month for progress at the project. One of the main activities volunteers have been undertaking is finishing a new special care unit for which construction began in October. This area will house up to 40 orangutans who have been deemed suitable for release after their rehabilitation, and it will also open up a much larger area for other orangutans to have more comfortable living conditions at the sanctuary. One of the March volunteers, Gill, said: “I’m really happy we can help finish the special care unit, as it will make the lives of the orangutans so much better and as volunteers we feel we have made a real difference.”

Orangutan Cages

Even though the area was already almost finished, all of the staff quickly realised that with volunteers helping to put all of the enrichment in place things moved a lot quicker, and the quicker they did the quicker the orangutans could start going into the new area! Volunteers have been learning how to build hammocks and rope bridges and in the process have picked up some orangutan like behaviours themselves! A lot of progress has been made on this particular project and it is currently taking priority over the work on the orangutan islands (which we will discuss shortly) due to the fact that it will help many more orangutans! Fingers are crossed it is finished by April.

Borneo Forest Work

Whilst the new special care unit is now the priority, the orangutan islands which were created to give the orangutans an authentic yet safe environment for their rehabilitation are still being worked on by the volunteers. On island 1 the biggest task which needs completing is the building of platforms for the orangutans to practise their climbing skills on. These were created with ironwood collected from the forests surrounding Samboja. All of the wood was cleared many years ago by people unrelated to the sanctuary, so by reusing something that would have otherwise gone to waste the volunteers got to learn a little more about life in the jungle. Once island 1 is completed the volunteers will be moving on to island 0 to do the same there!

Borneo Tree Planting

As you may have seen, last year Borneo suffered from some horrific forest fires and whilst things are looking up, the island is still very much in recovery mode. The fires burnt almost 200 hectares of new forest to the ground so volunteers have been helping to plant lots of trees in the affected area. This is a huge and important job but it is only being managed by a small team so the volunteers have proved invaluable by helping to re-establish the forest.

There has of course been all of the regular activities taking place, including the creation of enrichment and leaf collecting, plus keep an eye out for our update on the sun bears of Samboja later in the month. To wrap it all up we will leave you with a quote from another of the volunteers who was at Samboja in March and he sums it all up perfectly! Felix said of his time at the project: “The range of activities that we were involved in made the one month project go too fast and I hope that our work did help to maintain the well being of the orangutans.”


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