Celebrating World Orangutan Day 2021

By Petrus Kanisius and Riduwan

Every year on August 19th we commemorate World Orangutan Day. This day is a reminder for all citizens of the world to save the fate of orangutans and their habitat. This year, World Orangutan Day took the theme “Habitat Restoration, Conserving Orangutans, Care of Civilization”.

This year, Yayasan Palung (GPOCP), along with RK-TAJAM and REBONK youth group volunteers and West Bornean Orangutan Caring Scholarship (WBOCS) recipients, joined OUFest 2021, which was held by the Indonesian Orangutan Forum (FORINA), made up of 57 different institutions and organizations.

The many organizations that work together as part of the Indonesian Orangutan Forum (FORINA).

Despite the current COVID-19 conditions, GPOCP/Yayasan Palung staff and volunteers remained enthusiastic to take part in commemorating World Orangutan Day. We held a series of activities including a virtual interactive dialog, with the theme BEGALOR (which is an Indonesian acronym for Berbicara Seputar Gagasan Lingkungan dan Orangutan, or Talking about Environmental and Orangutan Ideas).

Virtual Interactive Dialog

The Begalor Interactive Dialog hosted speakers including Ibrahim Sumardi (Gunung Palung National Park Bureau, Head of Cabang Panti Research Station), Samsidar (Chairman of Banjar Lestari Customary Forest Management Board), Desi Kurniawati (Yayasan Palung Customary Forests and Animal Protection Coordinator), and Mariamah Achmad (Conservation Practitioner and former Yayasan Palung Education Manager). The event was moderated by Mita Anggraini (2017 West Bornean Orangutan Caring Scholarship recipient). The goal of this interactive dialog was for conservation activists to help strengthen community involvement in conserving orangutans and their habitat. The speakers emphasized the role of the community in orangutan conservation, some of the obstacles faced, and the efforts that must be made towards orangutan conservation.

Additionally, on August 20th, Research Director Wahyu Susanto was a speaker for a webinar organized by the Primate Research Center at Universitas Nasional, on Getting to Know Orangutans Through Research Stations in Indonesia, where he presented on the work at Cabang Panti.

Research Director, Wahyu Susanto (top left), speaks during a webinar hosted by Universitas Nasional in Jakarta.

Orangutan Campaigns

RK-TAJAM youth group volunteers from Ketapang also created campaigns through YouTube and TikTok, and organized an art competition. In Kayong Utara, RK-REBONK volunteers held several activities to spread messages about orangutans. Twenty REBONK volunteers carried signs about orangutans and the environment throughout Pasir Mayang Beach, Sukadana District.

Some of the  World Orangutan Day activities can be seen here:

Members of the REBONK volunteer youth group hold handmade signs at the Pasir Mayang Beach. Signs include phrases like “save the forest for the future”, “this is my action, where is yours”, “stop cutting down our forest” and “humans need the forest, the forest needs orangutans”.

Why do we need to save orangutans?

Orangutans are the only Asian great ape, and live only on the islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan (Borneo). In the Indonesian language, “orang-utan” means person of the forest. These animals, with which we share 96.4% of our DNA, are the true guardians of the forest. Unfortunately, the orangutan, which is an endemic animal, is now critically endangered. The existence of orangutans in Borneo (Pongo pygmaeus) and in Sumatra (Pongo abelii and Pongo tapanuliensis) is a matter of pride for Indonesia. To us, the orangutan is a symbol of the uniqueness of our forests and the abundance of biodiversity.