My Three Years at Cabang Panti

By Sahril Ramadani, GPOCP Research Assistant
My name is Sahril Ramadani, I am 20 years old, and currently working as a Research Assistant at Cabang Panti Research Station in Gunung Palung National Park. About three years ago I started working here as the camp assistant, taking care of basic camp needs such as cleaning and maintenance. I was then appointed to work as a research assistant to help out with Dr. Cheryl Knott’s long term orangutan research project.
Sahril, at one of the waterfalls found within the Cabang Panti trail system in Gunung Palung National Park.
I have enjoyed many aspects of my job and time here at Cabang Panti. One of my favorite things is meeting the new researchers from different countries and learning their language. I also like to teach the researchers the Indonesian language.
I really enjoy finding some of the more rare and interesting animals of the rainforest in their natural habitat. I was lucky enough to find a tarsier, but I even like the more common animals, such as insects.
Sahril was able to capture this image of the elusive tarsier while searching for orangutans at Cabang Panti.
Although I have never been to other research stations, I know Cabang Panti Branch is a very special place. It has eight different habitat types spanning from freshwater swamp, and peat swamp to montane and riverine environments. The Cabang Panti trail system encompasses each of these habitats, covering an area of 2,100 hectares. The diversity here makes it prime forest for orangutans, as well as gibbons, slow lorises, and the hornbill, among many other species.
Walimah, the most famous orangutan at Cabang Panti, is Sahril’s favorite!
For shortened slang we call orangutans, “O-ha” as the letter H in Indonesian is pronounced “Ha.” One of my favorite orangutans to follow is Walimah. I normally wake up around 4:00 in the morning to make it to her nest before she wakes up.  Our team usually works in pairs, one to collect behavioral data on the Ipad and one to collect fruit samples that she may have eaten that day. We also tag trees, giving each a special code, take GPS waypoints, and try to capture any interesting behavior on camera. Once the orangutan makes a nest and goes to sleep for the night, we can head back to camp. Usually, I enjoy a fresh cup of coffee, give my data to the manager, and clean up after my time in the forest. During the evenings I enjoy a good game of ping pong, playing guitar, and weaving bracelets. I truly love my job and look forward to my future with this project.
Sahril gathering orangutan behavioral data at Cabang Panti. All photos credit Sahril Ramadani.