Palm Oil Training Programs

Implementing a zero tolerance policy

In early July, 2012, OFI officially launched its new, innovative Zero Tolerance/ No-Kill Training Program. It was designed to train 1,000 palm oil and paper and pulp workers over the next two years in the humane and respectful treatment of orangutans and other wildlife.

Palm Oil Plantation

Palm Oil Plantation in the Lamandau Regency

In so doing, OFI aspires to fundamentally change the culture of an industry that has historically treated orangutans as ‘agricultural pests’ with deadly consequences to both orangutan individuals and to the orangutan species.

“No capture, no harm, no kill”

OFI’s Zero Tolerance/No-Kill Program training sessions are led by Dr. Galdikas (on a volunteer basis) along with four professional trainers. The first four-day workshop opened in Pangkalan Bun with a speech given by Regent Pak Ujang of Kotawaringin Barat, who personally welcomed the twenty-one participating APP supervisors and managers, and emphasized the importance of this new collaborative conservation program.

The first two days of training sessions include a series of immersive workshops with talks and activities followed by Q&A and group discussions. Talks include a presentation about local rainforest ecology and biodiversity by Ms. Renie Djojosmaro (a former biology student of Dr. Galdikas and current head of OFI Jakarta office ), as well as a personal and in-depth talk by Dr. Galdikas about orangutans as a species and as individuals. Mr. Edy (another former Galdikas student and active conservationist in Indonesia) and Dr. Galdikas provide advice and recommendations on what to do and how to act when workers encounter wild orangutans on their plantations, providing insight into ways to avert violent human-orangutan conflict.

When possible the training sessions include an interactive portion. When training sessions occur close enough this includes a visit to Camp Leakey in Tanjung Puting National Park and offers workshop trainees a glimpse into the world of wild orangutans. In camp, throughout the forest, and at the feeding platform, workshop participants witnessed orangutans unafraid and confident, calmly accepting people into their territory, and affording them a peek into their secretive lives. For many participants this is the beginning of seeing orangutans from a different perspective.

One can learn facts from a book, but nothing engages people like a close encounter with the animal itself.

It was an emotional and moving experience for the twenty-one workshop participants. As Dr. Galdikas Tweeted, “This is one of the reasons that it is important that people have opportunities to directly observe and be close to endangered wildlife. It engenders feelings and emotions. One can learn facts from a book, but nothing engages people like a close encounter with the animal itself.” For most of the managers and employees who take part in OFI’s four-day training, these sessions are their closest and most positive encounter with orangutans. It serves to dispel the long-held stereotype of orangutans as malevolent pests, and educates them about the importance of orangutan conservation.

During the two year program, the managers of APP (aided by our trainers and Dr. Galdikas on a Volunteer basis) have gone back to their workplaces in East and Central Borneo to deliver OFI’s ‘do no harm’ message and techniques to their employees, spreading the word and helping to transform an industry.
In the years ahead OFI and Dr. Galdikas hope to spread the use of a Zero Tolerance Policy to all APP and affiliated plantations throughout Indonesia.

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