By Tri Wahyu Susanto, Research Director
In March 2022, we received a visit from an Indonesian orangutan researcher who is quite well known among world orangutan researchers – Sri Suci Utami Atmoko, or better known as Suci. Ibu Suci is a lecturer in the Department of Biology at the National University (UNAS) in Jakarta, and is also a founding member of the Yayasan Palung Governing Board. Ibu Suci’s visit to Gunung Palung National Park (GPNP) was to review the orangutan research activities at the Cabang Panti Research Station (CPRS) and Rangkong River. This is necessary because our research is a collaboration between the National University and Boston University that needs to be monitored so that research can run well. Ibu Suci’s activities in GPNP were carried out for 10 days.
The first day Ibu Suci came to Ketapang, where our conservation office is located, she had a meeting with the Head of Gunung Palung National Park, Pak Ari Wibawanto. During the meeting, we discussed a lot about planning research activities in the National Park in the future.
Ibu Suci first visited CPRS in 2003, and this was her first time back! When she came in 2003, she was at GPNP to help with a film about orangutan culture with a crew from a Japanese broadcasting company. Ibu Suci was very excited to be able to come back to CPRS, and during her visit this time, she came with two of her students from UNAS. These students will join the research team of Endro Setiawan, M.Si (National Park Bureau staff) for 6 months to study herpetofauna diversity and the abundance and distribution of primate feeding tree species at CPRS.
During the visit, the first location we visited was the research site along the Rangkong River. While at the Rangkong, we participated in phenology data collection and orangutan nest surveys (nest decay research) along 4 transects. While we were collecting data on two of the transects (47 and 48), Ibu Suci saw some very interesting conditions, because the difference in habitat types was very clearly visible between the two transects. Transect 47 is in the Kerangas (heath) habitat, while transect 48, which is only 250 meters away, is in the alluvial habitat. Here, there are also a lot of remnants of trees that were previously illegally logged. This is part of the reason that the Rangkong River area is so interesting for long-term research.
Next, we went to the main camp at Cabang Panti, and Ibu Suci participated in many other aspects of the research project. She observed the data collection that the 2 students began helping Mas Endro with, and discussed with research assistants and National Park staff about the orangutan research activities that go on at other research stations in Indonesia.
After these various discussions, Ibu Suci made some suggestions for short-term and long-term research topics that could be carried out in the Rangkong and Cabang Panti research areas, as well as other locations such as the Customary Forests or the local orangutan rehabilitation center. We will plan to incorporate some of these ideas into the research “road map” within the GPNP area, so that future researchers, especially Indonesian students, may consider these topics when planning research in Gunung Palung.
After her visit to Cabang Panti and the Rangkong, Ibu Suci came back to our office in Ketapang to attend a monthly meeting with all the Yayasan Palung Staff. As a member of the Yayasan Palung board, she discussed directly with the staff about all of the activities they carry out, and provided input and ideas for other activities they can apply to orangutan conservation.
It was great to join Ibu Suci on this trip, and we are so grateful for all the support and expertise she has provided all these years!
Management of Cabang Panti Research Station is conducted by the Gunung Palung National Park Office (BTN-GP) in collaboration with GPOCP/YP. Scientific research is carried out in conjunction with the Universitas Nasional (UNAS) and Boston University.