Tag Archives: Borneo

Fighting Fires in Tuanan – Urgent

This year is projected to be one of the worst on record for forest fires in Indonesia.  NASA reports that close to 8,000 fires have ignited in the forests and peatlands of Borneo, and some predict that this year’s El Niño weather cycle will continue into next spring, potentially matching the record-setting disaster experienced during the fires of 1997-1998.  Deadly particulates from the fires and the resulting smoke are threatening the health of people throughout SE Asia and also the wildlife in this region, including the endangered orangutan. The Tuanan Orangutan Research Project, run as a collaboration between Universitas Nasional Jakarta, University of Zurich, Rutgers University, and the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation, is located along the Kapuas River in the Mawas Conservation Area. This area holds one of the largest populations of wild orangutans in the world and is isolated from major cities in the region.  We have been studying orangutan behavior, ecology and health in this region since 2003  and have accumulated over 50,000 hours of observational data collected by an international team of scientists (information regarding our projects can be found at the following pages:

http://www.rci.rutgers.edu/~ev140/TORP/Welcome.html
http://www.aim.uzh.ch/research/orangutannetwork/tuananorangutanresearchproject.html  http://peatland.rutgers.edu

Because of our isolation and the government’s need to allocate resources to the more immediate threats to human health and safety in urban areas, it is very difficult for the regional government to deploy fire patrol teams to this region, and thus we primarily rely on people from the nearby villages along the Kapuas River working together with our research team to monitor and fight fires in this area.

The fires are currently active just south of our research area and are quickly moving northwards. We are working closely with local communities to mobilize firefighting teams, but resources are extremely limited in the face of this growing imminent threat. We desperately need your support to save this valuable peatland forest and the critical habitat it provides for orangutans. A small donation goes a long way, and in this crisis situation, every dollar counts. Your donation will contribute directly to supporting the fire fighting activities currently underway. You can follow our fire fighting progress at our GoFundMe site below

https://www.gofundme.com/tuananorangutans

Tuanan project assistants work on putting out the fires (by Perry van Duijnhoven)

Tuanan project assistants work on putting out the fires (by Perry van Duijnhoven)

fires in the north study area (by Perry van Duijnhoven)

fires in the north study area (by Perry van Duijnhoven)

Tuanan fire team pumping water out of the peat (by Perry van Duijnhoven)

Tuanan fire team pumping water out of the peat (by Perry van Duijnhoven)

 

TORP assistant monitoring orangutans in the smoke

TORP assistant monitoring orangutans in the smoke

Tuanan forest

Tuanan forest

Otto in the smoke (by Wendy Erb)

Otto in the smoke (by Wendy Erb)

Tuanan Orangutan Research Project (TORP) welcomes a new member to the orangutan population – Meet Moby!!!

The Tuanan team is very excited about the latest birth in the population of orangutans that we study. Orangutans in Borneo give birth every 6-8 years, so they have what we call a very slow life history. It takes long-term studies to estimate interbirth intervals. We have been working in Tuanan since 2003, and we are just starting to obtain an understanding of their interbirth intervals (IBIs).

We first found Mindy in July 2003. At the time, she had an infant, Milo (a female)- we estimated her to be about 2 yrs old. Milo is now on her own and likely will have her own offspring soon. We have followed Mindy regularly since July 2003. She gave birth to Mawas (a female) in July of 2008, and thus an IBI of about 7 years. Milo soon was on her own although does come together with mom once in a while. Mawas is now about 6 years and 6 months old. The TORP team found Mindy on December 12, 2014 with what looks like a 2-3 week old infant. You can see the pictures below. Mawas is still with Mindy, and Mindy is very tolerant of Mawas being close to Moby.

This is a great indicator that our population is healthy, as our females continue to reproduce. Great news from the forest and to start the New Year!!!! And a big Thanks to Caroline and the TORP team for sending pictures and the news!

Moby clings to Mindy (Photo by Caroline Schuppli)

Moby clings to Mindy (Photo by Caroline Schuppli)

Mindy Inspects her new infant Moby (Photo by Caroline Schuppli)

Mindy Inspects her new infant Moby (Photo by Caroline Schuppli)

Big sister Mawas with mom and Moby (Photo by Abuk)

Big sister Mawas with mom and Moby (Photo by Abuk)