Since Dr. Biruté Mary Galdikas began research in 1971, through the establishment of Orangutan Foundation International in 1986, and to the present day, OFI has collected various data on wild orangutans, other native species, botany and logistics. This wild orangutan research program is singular in duration and continuity. The information, therefore, is incredibly valuable and requires proper preservation. In December of 2016, a new Records Library was established for this purpose.
Data Collection on Wild Orangutans
Dr. Galdikas started her research in the field on wild orangutans in 1971 in what is now Tanjung Puting National Park. Continuing this research for over 45 years, she has now conducted one of the longest continuous studies in the world by one principal investigator of any wild mammal population. The behavioral and medical data collected by Dr. Galdikas and her OFI associates is extremely valuable for orangutan conservation.
Data Collection on Orangutans at the Care Center
In addition to collecting data on orangutans in the wild, OFI keeps track of all infant and orphan orangutans that enter the Orangutan Care Center & Quarantine (OOCQ) in the village of Pasir Panjang, near Tanjung Puting National Park. Since the establishment of OFI, every orangutan’s data are documented in individual books. This information includes:
- The orangutan’s history (for as far as it is known)
The stories for most orangutans who arrive at the Care Center begin with tragedy: They are frequently confiscated and brought to the OCCQ by the police or forestry department. Many young orangutans have been kept as pets. Older, adult orangutans have been found on or close to palm oil plantations.
- Medical Condition
All orangutans are carefully examined by OFI veterinary staff. Details on their health are recorded meticulously, from appetite, to weight, strength, skin-condition and dental development.
- Behaviour / Rehabilitation
Every orangutan develops differently and OFI caregivers keep close watch on the progress of each individual as he or she is rehabilitated toward release into the wild.
- After Care
When an orangutan is released into the wild again, he or she is followed 24/7 by OFI for the first few weeks. Their progress is closely monitored, including their behaviour, eating patterns, sleeping locations, and social interactions.
Data Collection on Other Wildlife
Many other species find their way to OFI’s Care Center. OFI has cared for sun bears, gibbons, macaques, a cassowary, local birds, crocodiles, and other wildlife. Some animals are released back into the wild, and others are relocated to centers specializing in their care. Collecting and studying the data on these various species and their progress is a valuable tool in their care.
Data Collection on Botany
Besides researching orangutans and other wildlife, OFI has also compiled research in the field of Environmental Science, specifically in Tanjung Putting National Park. The data collected on plant and tree compositions over the years has been an important guide to rainforest conservation.
Data Collection on Logistics
Last, but certainly not least, all logistics and staff activities are recorded and studied. With over 200 staff members spread out over various locations, keeping track of logistics and operations requires secure documentation.
Preservation of Data
The bulk of data has been collected in books and on paper. While all of these documents have been stored securely on bookshelves, maintenance in the tropical climate of Borneo is challenging due to the extreme humidity. Paper documentation faces additional environmental threats such as flooding and fires. It has become imperative therefore to digitize all data. This is a huge project, for which a new working space and team would be required.
In December of 2016, an old stockroom was renovated and transformed into OFI’s Records Library. Wooden bookshelves fill the room, which is well ventilated to prevent the paper from molding. Desk stations with computers and laptops have also been provided for the new library staff to work on.
The Records Library is currently functional and staffed by Ibu Eni and Pak Habibi. Ibu Eni previously worked in veterinary documentation. Her accuracy and organization has translated well to her new role with Records. Pak Habibi, who has a degree in biology, is responsible for extracting all written data from books and incorporating the data into digital sheets. “It is amazing how much these data have already taught me and I feel privileged to be able to contribute to orangutan conservation.” – Pak Habibi
The establishment of the OFI Records Library is a critical step forward for OFI, and will aid in the preservation of precious data to be used in the conservation of orangutans, other species, and their environment.
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