A team of volunteers have made their way to the Samboja Lestari Orangutan Sanctuary in Borneo, Indonesia to help improve the lives of the orangutans. Volunteers from around Australia have been donating their time to work on an enrichment program which spreads knowledge on the best methods for ensuring the happiness of orangutans in the sanctuary. Orangutans are found in lowland and hilly tropical rainforests on the island of Boreno and are listed as endangered due to deforestation. Orangutans are highly intelligent creatures and are one of our closest relatives which share 98% of our DNA.
A team of experts from around Australia are working closely with local keepers to provide daily enrichment to the orangutans. Enrichment activities include providing tools, toys and problem solving puzzles. Managing Director of Ecoteam, Lise Bolton, has recently returned from Samboja Lestari. Lise spent her week in the Indonesian rainforest getting to know the orangutans, helping out with enrichment and designing a new wastewater treatment system for the new orangutan enclosures. “The sanctuary is an amazing place deep in the Borneo rainforest. There are a lot dedicated people working at the facility who are really making a difference to the lives and ongoing survival of the orangutans there”.
Samboja Lestari is home to 200 orangutans and 47 sun bears who are predominantly displaced or orphaned by habitat loss. Borneo Orangutan Survival (BOS) Australia works tirelessly alongside the East Kalimantan Conservation and Natural Resources Authority (BKSDA) to rehabilitate and reintroduce orangutans to safe and secure habitat. The Samboja Lestari sanctuary is also open to visitors who want to see the orangutans and sun bears. Visitors can volunteer their time while staying at the forest ecolodge. The sanctuary is part of a 2000 hectare wildlife area purchased by BOS which has been reforested over the past 10 years. The sanctuary is a haven for wildlife and has a number of orangutan islands where orangutans can get ready for their release back into the wild.
The sanctuary receives both adult and orphaned baby orangutans from around Indonesia. The Orangutan reintroduction project runs several forest schools for the baby orangutans. The project provides a refuge to teach the young orangutans all the skills they need to survive on their own in the wild. Orangutans are given a natural education playground to learn forest skills such as making nests and shelters and also to learn about the foods of the forest.
Due to ongoing deforestation in Indonesia, the orangutan sanctuary is always growing. Orangutans are very close relatives of humans and easily catch human diseases. The sanctuary is being overwhelmed with more orangutans which are suffering for diseases such as hepatitis B and tuberculosis. Unfortunately these orangutans need to be quarantined and treated to avoid the spread of infection. BOS has built new enclosures which will house these orangutans and ensure their proper care. However more orangutans mean more orangutan poo.
Ecoteam worked with BOS to come up with a solution to treat wastewater from the enclosures. “The enclosures are washed down twice a day to ensure the health of the orangutans and this means a lot of wastewater is generated. We designed an ecological wastewater treatment system which will be simple to operate and maintain into the future” says Lise. The wetland based wastewater treatment system which will harness nature to treat the water. “The system requires no energy and uses gravel and plants to clean the water”.
Ecoteam have donated their services to design and assist with the construction of the system. Ecoteam is an environmental engineering company based in Lismore which provides ecologically based waste solutions, including constructed wetlands for wastewater treatment. This is the third system Ecoteam have designed in partnership with BOS Australia. The President of BOS Australia and owner of the Macadamia Castle, Tony Gilding, has been helping overseeing the project “We are so delighted with the expertise provided by Ecoteam. Without them this project would not have been possible. They have spent hundreds of hours designing, project managing and supervising construction of these constructed wetlands. All probono. They have deep knowledge of building systems in remote areas of Australia and designing systems that are almost maintenance free. It has been a joy working with them.”
The wetland based water treatment system was installed in at Samboja Lestari in November 2015. The construction was supervised Tom Bertinshaw who spent a month at the sanctuary assisting with the project. The construction team also includes plumber Nik Hyde who will visit the sanctuary shortly and provide training on how to operate and maintain the system.
To find out more about orangutan survival projects or provide assistance by adopting a baby orangutan or purchasing some rainforest visit Borneo Orangutan Survival Australia http://www.orangutans.com.au/