Save Orangutans from Extinction

by Rare
Eddy educating the community
Eddy educating the community

The progress this campaign has made over the last several months has been truly remarkable. With an emphasis on public outreach and education, villagers in the Lamandau area are successfully reducing the amount of forest cut down for fuel and expansion of farmland.

A poster drive, mascot, and song have been the primary focus of the campaign’s public outreach push. The posters promote settled farming, reduced burning of forest, and the planting to mixed gardens. Led by Eddy Santoso, almost every village surrounding the Lamandau Wildlife Preserve was given these informational posters. In addition to the posters, a fact sheet was created that used pictures to link climate change to the burning of forest. Not content to stop there, Eddy and his team made a concerted effort to draw children into the fight against deforestation. Uncle Win, the mascot who represents the campaign, has made several visits to schools to educate children. A song was also written specifically for the campaign to be sung at schools. These fun and playful strategies have paid big dividends. Children in the area have, of their own accord, begun to collect seeds and plant trees to replace ones that have been burned. The involvement of children as well as adults bodes well for the future success of the campaign.

Perhaps the most successful part of the Pride campaign thus far has been the implementation of settled farming techniques in the Lamandau area. The primary reason for clearing forest is to plant palm trees, which are harvested for their oil and, ultimately, become the main source of income for villagers. As villagers earn income from the palm oil, they stop planting their own food and start clearing more forest for palm trees. This additional income is then used to buy food and other supplies that they could otherwise provide for themselves. Eddy and his partners at Yayorin have created a settled farming program that increases the self reliance of villagers and reduces the need for palm trees and their oil. In Tempayung Village, a mixed garden program was created that encourages villagers to start planting their own gardens in order to supplement their diets. These gardens include things such as fruits, vegetables, and rubber. With the additional food and resources gardens provide, villagers no longer have to go into the forest every day to find food. In the nearby area of Babual Boboti, 77% of villagers started their own mixed gardens. The community was so excited by the idea of starting gardens that women, children, and even men returning home from their day jobs, all participated in the planting and upkeep. In fact, the settled farming program has been so successful that the head of the Department of Agriculture traveled to the area to personally praise their efforts.

The future looks good for the preservation of orangutan habitat around Lamandau. Village chiefs around the wildlife preserve all reaffirmed their commitment not to expand farming fields, open new farming lands, or cut trees for fuels. This is an extremely important step, as villagers are loath to defy their chief. Furthermore, supervisory patrols were created to ensure that everyone is following the directives of the chiefs. These supervisory patrols were also pleased to discover the return of migratory birds to the areas that had been previously burned. The return of ibis, egrets, herons and grouse all signify the improving health of the forest and the success of the campaign.

Here you will find the link to a video made by Jason Houston that gives a great idea of what is being conserved. There are excellent shots of the villages where the campaign is working, newly planted gardens, and, of course, orangutans.


Eddy and partners collaborate to produce community surveys.
Eddy and partners collaborate to produce community surveys.

Back in the field and ready for action – local conservation leader Eddy Santoso leads the Rare Pride campaign in Lamandau Wildlife Reserve, which aims to reach out to the communities in and around the reserve to protect the orangutan.

In February 2009, Rare Pride Campaign Manager Eddy Santoso returned to the field from his university training to plan and determine the goals of his Pride Campaign. This training gives Eddy the essential skills to deploy various community outreach strategies tailored to his community’s current culture regarding conservation. Some of the tools Eddy uses to disseminate the importance of protecting the reserve include a charismatic campaign mascot, radio songs about conservation, conservation messaged posters, community meetings, etc. These tools are designed to modify core values, lower behavioral barriers, and address the most urgent environmental issues in efforts to save the orangutan and the orangutan habitat.

Eddy’s employer, Yayorin, along with the Orangutan Foundation, are Rare’s local partners for this new Pride campaign. Lamandau Wildlife Reserve and its surrounding corridors are the primary focus of Eddy’s campaign. Comprised of 77,000 hectares of peat swamp and lowland tropical forest, Lamandau is home to some of Borneo’s most extraordinary wildlife. Proboscis monkeys, Rhinoceros hornbills, crocodiles, sun bears, orchids, hundreds of bird species, and the iconic orangutan. Threats to Lamandau’s biodiversity include land clearing for subsistence agriculture, illegal logging, and unsustainable or illegal hunting, fishing, and fuelwood collection. Larger threats on the horizon include proposals for industrial-scale oil palm plantations, which would mean clearing a significant majority of the buffer zone since global demand for palm oil has skyrocketed as worldwide hunger for biofuels has grown.

This year Rare and its partner organizations will build on these local agencies’ existing skills and experience in education and community outreach to launch a Rare Pride Campaign in Lamandau Wildlife Reserve. Lamandau’s forest still stands in large enough pieces to provide habitat for the orangutans. The Pride campaign is aiming to protect the remaining forest by engaging surrounding communities to protect and rehabilitate areas adjacent to the reserve, and empowering local communities to become beneficiaries of their own good stewardship of the forests on which they rely. Rare and local partners believe that enough forest can be preserved and maintained to support the needs of both people of the forest and orangutans.

Thanks to campaign supporters, Eddy is making great progress so far. He has identified threats and created a concept model that illustrates how threats affect wildlife, and has developed relevant conservation survey questions for the Lamandau’s surrounding communities. Together with Yayorin staff, Eddy is conducting surveys in a dozen surrounding communities and comparing results to those of six control communities around the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve. This process informs Eddy and his partners where current attitudes and behaviors stand with regard to Lamandau’s resources, providing a baseline from which the Pride campaign can determine metrics for future success.

Eddy and local partners have been reaching out to craftsmen and village leaders, activists and farmers, oil palm workers, rubber tree tappers and others harvesting from the forest to learn about their behaviors and to engage them in conserving orangutan habitat. Eddy’s campaign will also inspire another receptive audience-- children. Eddy has been visiting schools and using tools like stories and coloring books to inform children in a fun and interesting way about preserving Lamandau’s natural resources. This kind of outreach is just one of several tools Eddy will continue to use over the duration of his Pride campaign, which is scheduled to conclude in July 2010.

These three campaign managers are a part of a cohort that has affectionately named themselves “Metamorfosa” (= metamorphosis). A blog posted by their Pride Program Manager in Bogor explains: "as they are working to create changes, they themselves is in the process of being change, in a Pride program that is also had changed – for a better life, better environment, better world to live in."

These Indonesian campaigns are beginning to thrive! Rare’s first university training phase in Indonesia, which lasted nine weeks, ended December 19, 2008. The campaign managers Eddy, Bobby and Ade have returned to their sites and are working on a comprehensive threat assessment in their sites, whose results will serve as the basis for planning their year-long Pride campaigns.

The campaign managers are also hosting a series of stakeholder meetings to assess the opinions, interests and behaviors of various groups, such as farmers. By working at this local level, the campaign managers not only gain first hand information and build relationships with the local people, but they engage community members in the process of communicating about conservation.


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Organization Information


Location: Arlington, VA - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Boriana Ditcheva
Arlington, VA United States

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Thanks to 182 donors like you, a total of $7,797 was raised for this project on GlobalGiving. Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.

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