Celebrating rare red apes: International Orangutan Day 2015


Every year on the 19th August, many conservation organisations around the world celebrate International Orangutan Day. It is a positive day, amidst the doom and gloom news of declining populations and serious threats that normally surrounds orangutans in the media. Although these are crucial things for people to know, International Orangutan Day is a time to celebrate these rare red apes and to empower people to help protect orangutans in their natural habitat.

With the help of OuTrop Volunteers the children make orangutan masks. Photo by Ben Thomas/OuTrop

In 2014, we held our first International Orangutan Day event in base camp in the Sabangau Forest. This year, we wanted bigger and better! So, we moved the event to Kereng Bangkerai; the local village adjacent to Sabangau. Our field staff are from the community of Kereng and we invited their family and friends to share this special day.

We started the day in true Bornean style – with Dayak dancing! A group of dancers from the Al-Ghazali School in Palangka Raya kindly opened the event with their wonderful Dayak dance routine, which they had been rehearsing for a local competition.

Traditional Dayak dancing to open the event. Photo by Ben Thomas/OuTrop

Our aims for the day were centred around learning and having fun. The venue was buzzing with activities designed to help people learn about orangutans; from how they move, to what they eat, to what they look like. Children were able to make orangutan masks; run through an obstacle course of ‘make believe’ shrubs, tall trees, vines and winding rivers; “feed” hungry orangutans and fly a kite in support of International Orangutan Day. 

Feeding “fruit” and “leaves” to our hungry orangutan. Photo by Ben Thomas/OuTrop.

Let's go fly a kite! Photo by Ben Thomas/OuTrop

Our Field Director and Primate Project Coordinators gave a short presentation about OuTrop's work and guests were invited to share a personal message, about orangutans, live on OuTrop's Facebook page. We finished the day on a high, with traditional Indonesian games and a game of football.

Tug of war! Photo by Ben Thomas/OuTrop

This day would not have been possible without the help of all team members and volunteers, so a big thank you to everyone who made International Orangutan Day such a success.

As OuTrop grows, our education outreach efforts are growing too. We hope that next year this event will continue to get bigger and reach further people, the custodians of this rare red ape, in the local community.

The extended OuTrop family. Photo by Ben Thomas/OuTrop.