A Biological Treasure and an Important Orangutan Refuge
Home to Wild Orangutans & Other Endangered Species
*Includes the Rawa Kuno Legacy Forest, Kubu Village Forest, Sungai Bakau Village Forest, plus surrounding buffer and corridor lands not yet identified on the map below. Click here to take a virtual tour!
Region is a very special place, worthy of OFI’s hard work and your generous support to ensure its permanent protection. Vast and biologically diverse, it includes ancient peat swamp forest, dry ground forest, secondary forest, swamps and lakes. Contiguous with other undeveloped rainforest fragments and relatively far from human settlements, it is a perfect home for endangered orangutans.
More than one hundred wild orangutans (already forcibly evicted from much of their historical habitat by forest destruction) have found refuge in the Orangutan Legacy Forest region. Orangutan presence is readily visible within the peat swamp areas where the verdant forest canopy is festooned with orangutan sleeping nests. An exemplary Southeast Asian biodiversity hotspot, this forest is also home to sun bears, clouded leopards, wild pigs, mouse deer, rusa deer, long-tailed macaque monkeys, pig-tailed macaque monkeys, proboscis monkeys, red leaf-eating monkeys, and agile gibbons—some found nowhere else in the world and endemic to Borneo.
The Orangutan Legacy Forest is part of OFI’s plan to purchase and protect a network of parcels of primary and secondary lowland forest located between the one-million-acre+ Tanjung Puting National Park, the 188,000-acre Lamandau Reserve, and the 1,000-acre Pasir Panjang Village Forest, home to OFI’s Camp Rendell ‘soft-release’ facility. OFI envisions a province-wide system of contiguous, biologically intact nature reserves, parks, corridors, and protected areas, which together will help provide essential habitat to ensure the long-term conservation of the endangered orangutan in our region.
Piecing Together a Safe and Secure ‘Sanctuary’
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Specifically, the Orangutan Legacy Forest includes several distinct forested areas including more than 7,900 acres of forestland in and around OFI’s recently acquired Rawa Kuno Legacy Forest (PDF). Today, OFI is working to expand this protected forest by purchasing two village forests to the south of Rawa Kuno. These village forests were recently offered for sale to OFI and include the 900-acre Sungai Bakau Village Forest and 2,800-acre Kubu Village Forest.
Acquisition of these two southern village forests by OFI through our new Orangutan Legacy Forest Campaign will extend the protection of critical orangutan habitat beyond Rawa Kuno’s border and provide ideal locations for patrol posts and water towers to help protect this vast forest region from illegal logging, mining, hunting and forest fires that may sweep the region during the dry season. Additional land purchases within the Orangutan Legacy Forest Region will include a minimum of 2,500 acres of forested wildlife corridor land, connecting the Orangutan Legacy Forest to the Pasir Panjang Village Forest and beyond, thus creating a large, protected and interconnected orangutan habitat ‘sanctuary.’
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The Orangutan Legacy Forest boasts an amazing array of plant species as well as wildlife. A short walk into the forest reveals an abundance of carnivorous, creeping pitcher plants, some towering trees with girths larger than the arm span of three grown men, and a variety of fruiting plants that sustain a biologically diverse ecosystem. On a larger scale, the forest is an important ‘carbon sink,’ with carbon (a contributor to global climate change if released) safely sequestered deep below its swampy waters and throughout the root systems of its peat swamp forest trees.
A Future Home for Rehabilitated Orangutans
As Borneo’s rainforests are cleared for palm oil plantations, orangutans are left homeless and vulnerable to starvation, disease, and predation by humans. Mother orangutans are killed and their infants fall victim to the cruel and illegal pet trade industry. If they are lucky, they eventually find their way to an orangutan rehabilitation facility, such as OFI’s Care Center and Quarantine.
For the more than 330 orangutans currently being cared for by OFI, the Orangutan Legacy Forest truly is ‘the promised land.’ Each month orphaned orangutans enter OFI’s rehabilitation program. Yet with so little protected forest remaining (and with many national parks off limits to ex-captive animals), it is extremely difficult to find suitable release sites for those ready to return to the wild.
OFI is working hard to change that by purchasing, protecting (via forest patrols), and replanting the region’s forestland. Portions of the Orangutan Legacy Forest damaged by devastating fires in 2002, 2006, and 2012 will be reforested through an aggressive, long-term tree planting project carried out by OFI staff and volunteers in the years ahead. This will transform existing open swampy grasslands back into lush tropical rainforests capable of supporting an expanded population of orangutans. A vast, wild, and fully reforested ecosystem, the Orangutan Legacy Forest will become home to orphaned and rehabilitated orangutans—giving them a second chance to grow up and be wild.
We have collected 15.78% of our target for the Orangutan Legacy Forest.
A Unique Conservation Opportunity and a Special Fundraising Challenge
For OFI, the Orangutan Legacy Forest initiative is a race against time in a must-win battle against the powerful forces of wealthy and influential palm oil and timber industry elites. Keenly aware that the vast majority of land sold by local landowners is converted to palm oil plantations or pulp and paper concessions, we have made a firm promise to our many stakeholders that we will purchase and protect critical orangutan habitat as best we can.
Thanks to you, OFI was successful in keeping the Rawa Kuno Legacy Forest and surrounding buffer and wildlife corridor land out of the hands of short-sighted developers by raising $743,000 in 2011 and 2012 which we used from 2011 through the beginning of 2013 to buy these areas.
Today, we need your help once again to raise $2.4 million USD to purchase and permanently protect more than 6,000 acres of forest in the Orangutan Legacy Forest Region. Please join us in leaving a lasting legacy for our children and grandchildren…and for the many wildlife species that depend on us for their survival.