Primate Info Net Banner Wisconsin PRC Logo

Orangutan Tropical Peatland Project (Established 1999)
Conservation Agency
Web Site:

Director: Simon Husson, Dr Helen Morrogh-Bernard, Laura D'Arcy, Dr Susan Cheyne
Phone: +625363225728   Fax: +625363236880   E-Mail:
alan Yos Sudarso, Palangka Raya,, Central Kalimantan 73112 INDONESIA
Department: CIMTROP
Institution: University of Palangka Raya
Affiliations: Universities of Leicester, Nottingham, Cambridge, Oxford

Mission: The Orangutan Tropical Peatland Research Project works to protect one of the most important areas of tropical rainforest in Borneo - the Sabangau Forest in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. We monitor the distribution, population status, behaviour and ecology of the forest's flagship ape species â the orangutan and agile gibbon - carry out biodiversity and forestry research, provide scientific feedback to conservation managers, and work with our local partners to implement successful conservation programmes. Our earliest work identified the Sabangau forest as home to the largest orangutan population remaining in Borneo â 12% of the total world population - thus bringing the region to the forefront of orangutan conservation efforts. This resulted in the forest becoming a National Park in 2004. We work in partnership with Indonesian NGO the Centre for International Cooperation for Management of Tropical Peatland (CIMTROP)
based at the University of Palangkaraya, Indonesia. Through this partnership we support local conservation efforts by implementing or funding a number of community-led conservation activities, including a Forest Patrol Unit, fire-fighting Team, and programmes of environmental education, developing local livelihoods and habitat restoration. Through these programmes we have succeeded in stopping illegal logging in 2005 and damming illegal logging extraction canals and drainage channels. Our research and volunteer program has been running since 2001 and is a focus for local conservation efforts, providing much-needed employment and financial benefits for the local community and replacing illegal logging as the main activity and source of income in the northern Sabangau Forest. We have three main areas of research: 1) Monitoring habitat condition and status of biodiversity. For this we survey orangutans by counting their nests; gibbons by triangulating their morning calls and carry out line transect surveys of other primate species. We survey butterfly and bird diversity and density in areas of differing logging disturbance. We measure trees in permanent habitat plots to monitor changes in forest structure at each of our monitoring stations. 2) Assessing long-term regeneration, succession, and productivity processes in forest subject to different disturbances including selective logging, fire, natural gaps and canal construction. We have a large number of plots in which we measure elements of tree size, health and productivity and seedling and sapling density, growth and survival. 3) Studies of orangutan and gibbon behavioural ecology. We follow habituated individuals of both species in order to better understand their behaviour, social interactions, food competition and ability to live in a disturbed forest. Although this does not form part of the behaviour program we do offer the opportunity to spend a day or two following both orangutans and gibbons with our behaviour research team, circumstances permitting. In addition we have a long-term felid project on the Sunda clouded leopard and small cat guild as well as flying foxes.

Clientele: Volunteers, BSc, MSc and Phd students as well as long-term research opportunities on a wide range of biodiversity conservation research and habitat ecology.

Principal Research Programs: Our research objectives:
1. To collect primary information on the orang-utan population of the peatswamp forests of Central Kalimantan and threats to its integrity and survival. This includes:
a) monitoring of populations at the Setia Alam Field station (ongoing since 1995)
b) surveying areas of the Sebangau, Katingan and Kahayah catchments for orangutan density and assessment of forest cover/quality thus ground-truth satellite land cover information.
c) focusing conservation efforts on the Sebangau catchment and gain the areas inclusion in future orang-utan conservation action plans

2. To collect data on the biodiversity of the Sebangau catchment.This includes:

a) surveys of other primates including gibbon density surveys, surveys of small mammals, reptiles, birds and bats.
b) identifying indicator species for long-term monitoring of the state of the catchment.

3. To collect primary information on behavioural ecology of the orang-utan and gibbon population within deep peatswamp. This includes:
a) comparing feeding behaviour between orang-utans and gibbons (including food selection criteria, nutrient intake) and to assessing the evolutionary relevance for these sympatric apes.

4. To establish techniques for promoting forest generation in disturbed areas

5. Socio-economic research involving the local communities within the catchment, particularly outlying river communities.

6. To disseminate information as widely as possible in collaboration with British and Indonesian conservation groups

Training Opportunities: We run three expeditions of seven weeks between mid-June and mid-November. Volunteers must be over 18 years old

Financial Aid: A discount is available for volunteers from South-East Asia

Number of Staff: 20

Associated Field Sites: OuTrop's base in Indonesia is the "Centre for International Co-operation in Managment of Tropical Peatlands" (CIMTROP) at the University of Palangka Raya in Central Kalimantan. Field research is centred in the Natural Laboratory, a 500km square area designated as protected by the local government for the purposes of scientific research. The Setia Alam Field Station is situated 1km from the Sebangau River, 20km south-west of Palangka Raya, the provincial capital, and managed by CIMTROP.

Supported Species: Hylobates albibarbis (Bornean white-bearded gibbon), Macaca nemestrina (pigtail macaque), Nasalis larvatus (proboscis monkey), Nycticebus coucang menagensis (Bornean slow loris), Pongo pygmaeus (Bornean orangutan), Tarsius bancanus borneanus (Bornean tarsier)

Publications: The OuTrop blog is updated regularly for an indepth look at life in the forest and the ongoing research:

Last Updated: 2010-03-19

[Edit Entry] [Delete Entry] [Search IDP]