Samboja Lestari Orangutan Project - What Happened In 2016 & What's The Plan For 2017?

Samboja Lestari Orangutan Project - What Happened In 2016 & What's The Plan For 2017?

Posted by Connor Whelan on Dec 23, 2016

After another busy year helping to care for and protect the critically endangered orangutan, we wanted to take a look back at all of the amazing things that have been achieved at the Samboja Lestari Orangutan Sanctuary over in Borneo throughout 2016! There has been so much going on that it would not have been possible to get it all done without the volunteers help, so let’s dive in and see what has been happening!

The Orangutan Islands Have Had A Facelift

Tree cutting

Samboja Lestari is home to a series of orangutan islands which have been carefully designed to help the apes during their rehabilitation. The islands are filled with various pieces of equipment to help the orangutans familiarise themselves with what life in the jungle will be like upon their release. Volunteers have helped to install hammocks, barrels, climbing structures, and even platforms, all of which have been designed to keep the apes stimulated and to prepare them for life back in their jungle home. With three islands finished in 2016, the plan for next year is to repair the damage that has been caused by our forest dwelling relatives on three other islands, as the orangutans can destroy a volunteer built instillation in half the time it takes the volunteers to create it! Take a look at the poor hammock below to get an idea!

Borneo Hammock

The Special Care Unit Was Completed

An unfortunate reality of rescuing and working with orangutans is the fact that when some of them arrive at the sanctuary, they are not in the best of health. That is why an orangutan special care unit is needed, so that the apes can regain their health and strength before joining the others in the main section of the centre. Back in March 2016, the volunteer’s first job was to build a literal jungle gym for the special care unit, and after putting in hammocks, ropes, swings, and other apparatus, everyone at the sanctuary was very happy with the results as you can see from the picture below!

People Got Their Hands Dirty Helping With The Reforestation

Reforestation in borneo

Back in 2015, a series of devastating forest fires ripped through the area around Samboja Lestari and as a result a lot of new trees needed to be planted. This was a huge job, and because of this the volunteers at the sanctuary jumped in whenever they could throughout the year to assist the specialised tree replanting team.

A Special Shout Out To The “Monster Platform Month” Is Needed Too!

Orangutan Platform

As we have already mentioned, volunteers played a big part in creating platforms to go on the orangutan islands. However, things stepped up a notch in September when the “monster platform needed to be created for island 2! This behemoth was twice as large as the other platforms that had so far been created, so it really was a case of all hands on deck to get the job done. Fortunately though, with a lot of manpower and a fair few snack breaks in-between building sessions, the platform was finished in October.

Last but by no means least, 5 orangutans were released!

In May, 5 orangutans were released back into the wilds of the Bornean rainforest after completing their rehabilitation at Samboja! Raymond, Kenjo, Gadis, Angely and Hope were all taken to an area of rainforest and released to begin their new lives back where they belong. The releasing of orangutans is a highlight for everyone associated with Samboja Lestari, but without all of the hard work that is put in from volunteers and staff leading up to the release, they would not be possible!

What is the plan for this year?

As you have probably gathered from all of the achievements we have already mentioned, there is never a dull moment at Samboja and that is going to remain the case in 2017! There is plenty on the cards for the coming year, and this includes:

A New Enclosure For The Sun Bears

Sun bear

These feisty bears are having a new enclosure built which means it will not be all orangutan activities for this year’s volunteers! As well as helping to build a new enclosure for the sun bears, volunteers will help with enrichment creation to make sure that the sun bears remain stimulated and challenged.

Planting A Lot More Trees!

Reforestation Area

This year we want to designate a 10 hectare area of land which The Great Projects volunteers will take care of for years to come. Within this large patch of land we will plant and maintain many different species of plants and trees. By doing this we will be able to create our own diverse rainforest within the existing rainforest, all with a Great Projects stamp on it! Volunteers who help with this activity will be able to see their hard work come to fruition for years to come, and you will all have played a part in rebuilding the rainforest!

Our Enrichment Competition

We are giving you the chance to head over to Samboja this year through our Orangutan Enrichment Competition! The competition is open to anyone who creates a new and exciting form of enrichment for the apes, and is then chosen by our orangutan expert Kate who you will then meet over in Borneo. For more information on this competition, please visit the competition page.

If you want to visit Samboja and become part of 2017’s volunteer story, then take a look at the project page and plan your adventure!


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