Project Orangutan Borneo
About: Helping Orangutans has always been a dream of mine since I was little girl. Both Lee and I love animals and nature, so our first project in Borneo fit the mould perfectly. Our mission for this project is to raise awareness about something a lot of people are very naïve to and that is destroying Borneo and the Orangutans: Palm Oil. Read on.
This trip was sponsored by Orangutan Trekking Tours
Today, Lee and I travelled by long boat to the Green Team learning hut to learn what they are all about.
The Green Team has a team of 33 locals who have come together to help care for the forest and environment in Borneo. They have spent most of their lives in the deep jungle and river of Borneo and grew up in the fields as wildlife and culture tour guides. They are supported by their family’s deep knowledge and understanding of the area.
Today we learnt just how much of a problem there truly is here and the statistics were devastating.
The Green Team
Today, Lee and I met our team for the duration of our project, Arbain and Herman. We met in Kumai, where our klotok was waiting. This is our bed, kitchen and transport throughout our project duration. We crossed the Kumai River and went on to Sekonyer River, Tanjung Puting’s main waterway where our journey began.
Lee got his drone up to show us the main waterway where we will be travelling. The Green Team own 50 hectares of this land to save it from deforestation. One if their main outcomes is to buy more.
Herman and I plan our project objectives and we don’t waste any time and get started through the wild jungles of Borneo.
The Damage of Deforestation
Today, the Green Team hit a very important part of the river that blew Lee and me away. What shocked us was the abrupt colour change of the river.
As you can see in the photo, the river we travelled on has 2 different colours a clean clear side and a dirty polluted side.
The polluted side was clean 20 years ago until deforestation and illegal logging started occurring. Palm oil plantations are now growing on each side of the dirty part of the river and the river is utilized to fulfil the development needs of these plantations.
Wildlife, both in the river and surroundings, was nonexistent until we made it to the clean side where the Green Team owned the land to protect it.
Oil as far as the eye can see
Lee and I were warned that flying drones over palm oil plantations should be done with caution because it is such a sensitive subject over here.
We were adamant to get some footage, so we walked out to location. On our way we learnt that Bornean orangutan populations have declined by more than 50% over the past 60 years and are critically endangered.
The main threat to the survival of orangutan populations is the massive expansion of palm oil plantations in Borneo.
To make way for these plantations, workers have to burn their way through the forests killing all wildlife in the way. If any wildlife is lucky enough to survive, the workers kill them with machetes.
This made us so sad. The Green Team is doing an amazing job buying more land to protect the wildlife and to educate the local people.
After a few days of learning all about deforestation, the palm oil industry and how the Green Team is making a difference, it is time to focus on and learn more about the elusive Orangutans.
We head to Camp Leakey which is located on the river we are travelling on. Camp Leakey is a research Centre designed to provide a base for scientists, staff, students, and Park Rangers to protect and study the Orangutans.
Before we go trekking to find these wild creatures, it’s time to become a student of them and see why they are just so unique and beautiful. Before we even meet one, we are captivated and drawn to their eyes. They are creatures of great mystery, and Lee and I are so excited about becoming one with them and the jungles of Borneo.
What Lee and I observed today put everything we learnt about Orangutans the past week into perspective.
To observe these Orangutans for hours and to see them free, happy and wild in the protected areas of the national park was extremely satisfying. But being around them and witnessing their personalities, behaviours and the love the mums have for their babies created a special bond. Suddenly the problem in Borneo became even more real as we both became emotionally invested in them. Watching the Orangutans blew us away, as there is an incredible innocence about them which makes you love them even more. Maybe it’s harder seeing them in trouble because they seem so much like us and looking into their eyes is like seeing yourself in a way. Today was a very emotional day.
As Lee and I come to the end of our incredible journey, we leave behind our newly found mates the Orangutans.
We are so proud to have made our very first of many projects for Travelee about preserving the lives of our precious Orangutans.
We are blown away by the hospitality Orangutan Tours provided us and we hope to return to Borneo soon to do an eco-trek with them.
Our next project is currently being planned and we look forward to bringing you all along.
El and Lee xxx
For more information on OTT and blog click here.