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Breed report

It is a deeply interconnected and fragile cycle. Photos by Janie Dubman Southern Kalimantan Tengah Central Indonesian Borneo , where the Orangutan Foundation International, a group working to protect and rehabilitate endangered orangutans, does most of its work, has soils that are not just poor, but also sandy.

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This is due partly to the fact that the area is coastal, and partly to geological influences. When cleared and carefully cultivated, some vegetable crops can be grown, as well as peanuts and fruit including bananas, pineapples, papayas, citruses and jackfruit. Previously, as recently as 20 years ago, local people cultivated dry rice paddies and grew all their own produce. Now, much of this valuable but fragile land is undergoing fundamental changes.

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Removing forest for human habitation and use is disrupting the nutrient cycle, and the consequences vary. Robbing the soil of its natural leaf litter means frequent and thorough fertilization is necessary to grow produce on the depauperate soil, and even so, not all areas are workable.

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When clearcut for housing and urbanization, the ground cover disappears, and only the sand remains to reflect the heat. The most staggering changes, however, are caused by large scale, industrial operations.


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Logging, whether legal or illegal, removes the majority of standing organic matter and opens the soil to rapid desiccation, erosion and nutrient loss. Very few species can grow on this soil, and a long time must pass for stray organic matter to accumulate and create a topsoil that will nurture seedlings.

Mining does the equivalent of taking a scouring sponge and scraping the landscape.

Everything from the buttress tress down to the moss is slashed and burned. Mining sites in the vicinity of Tanjung Puting National Park, some of which hug the park border, are eerie moonscapes with mounds and valleys of bleached sand, silent and shimmering in the heat. The national park, often less than two meters away, testifies to what the ravaged land used to be. The apparent might of a rainforest can be deceiving, and the delicate balance of life in it is truly all-encompassing. Empowering people by saving orangutans. The people are biologists, firefighters, carpenters, veterinarians, drivers, artists and nurses.

The orangutans are the only great apes in Asia, highly intelligent and highly endangered.

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The location is Borneo, Indonesia, and the mission is the save the orangutans from extinction. The leader is Dr. Birute Mary Galdikas. Turning wasteland into rainforest. Rehabilitation not enough to solve orangutan crisis in Indonesia. The ape pauses, picks up a stick and makes his way over to a plastic log, lined with small holes.

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Breaking the stick in two, he pokes one end into a hole in an effort to extract honey that has been deposited by a conservation worker. But he is not alone. The most staggering changes, however, are caused by large scale, industrial operations. Logging, whether legal or illegal, removes the majority of standing organic matter and opens the soil to rapid desiccation, erosion and nutrient loss.

Very few species can grow on this soil, and a long time must pass for stray organic matter to accumulate and create a topsoil that will nurture seedlings. Mining does the equivalent of taking a scouring sponge and scraping the landscape. Everything from the buttress tress down to the moss is slashed and burned. Mining sites in the vicinity of Tanjung Puting National Park, some of which hug the park border, are eerie moonscapes with mounds and valleys of bleached sand, silent and shimmering in the heat. The national park, often less than two meters away, testifies to what the ravaged land used to be.

DESERT ILLUSION

The apparent might of a rainforest can be deceiving, and the delicate balance of life in it is truly all-encompassing. Empowering people by saving orangutans. The people are biologists, firefighters, carpenters, veterinarians, drivers, artists and nurses. The orangutans are the only great apes in Asia, highly intelligent and highly endangered. The location is Borneo, Indonesia, and the mission is the save the orangutans from extinction. The leader is Dr. Birute Mary Galdikas. Turning wasteland into rainforest. Rehabilitation not enough to solve orangutan crisis in Indonesia. The ape pauses, picks up a stick and makes his way over to a plastic log, lined with small holes.

Desert illusion

Breaking the stick in two, he pokes one end into a hole in an effort to extract honey that has been deposited by a conservation worker. But he is not alone. To his right another orangutan has turned half a coconut shell into a helmet, two others wrestle on the lawn, and another youngster scales a papaya tree.

There are dozens of orangutans, all of which are about the same age. Just outside the compound, dozens of younger orangutans are getting climbing lessons from the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation BOS staff, while still younger orangutans are being fed milk from bottles in a nearby nursery.

Meanwhile several recently wild orangutans sit in cages. This is a waiting game. BOS hopes to eventually release all of these orangutans back into their natural habitat—the majestic rainforests and swampy peatlands of Central Kalimantan, on the island of Borneo. But for many, this is a fate that may never be realized.


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Saving Orangutans in Borneo. At , hectares , acres Tanjung Puting is the largest protected expanse of coastal tropical heath and peat swamp forest in southeast Asia.