Learning from our friends at the Gunung Palung Orangutan Project


Three members of our field team (Tommy, Aman and Supian) recently travelled to Gunung Palung Orangutan Project in West Kalimantan to learn more about how research is carried out at another orangutan project. Here they share their exciting experiences.

In February, we embarked on a journey from Palangka Raya (the nearest town to the Sabangau Forest) to Gunung Palung in West Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo to spend five days with the Gunung Palung Orangutan Project. It took a whole day to travel to Gunung Palung via plane, car and finally a 14km walk. The trip went smoothly, apart from a few blisters on Supian’s feet!

[Left to right] Aman, Supian and Tommy

We visited Gunung Palung to represent the OuTrop Team and to learn about how they carry out research. We wanted to gain new skills and knowledge that we could bring back to Sabangau and share with our team.

Our arrival there was welcomed enthusiastically by the team and we worked closely with the local staff.

Supian, Tommy and Aman with the Gunung Palung Team.

We were able to take part in a variety of activities, including orangutan follows, searching for wild primates (orangutans, red langur monkeys and gibbons) and vegetation surveys.

During our stay we learnt a lot of new things, which were different to how we work in Sabangau. For example, the staff learnt the Latin names for all the tree and animal species they studied. We were amazed and it made us very motivated to want to learn and memorize the Latin names too! We think that this could be applied in Sabangau and our team can learn the Latin names of the species that we study in the peat-swamp forest. We were also able to record a variety of data on orangutan behaviour, and learn how they collected orangutan poo and wee for analysis.

Adult male orangutan at Gunung Palung. Photo by Supian/OuTrop

It wasn’t all work though, we managed to have some fun too! One of the unforgettable moments was when we swam in a very cold waterfall. The waterfall was 10 metres high and a lot of fun. We spent about an hour and a half there until it was time to head back to camp.

Enjoying some free time at a beautiful waterfall.

We hope to bring many useful lessons back to our team in Sabangau. We also hope that in the future we could be given more opportunities to learn about the different research that is happening in other places around the world.

We are very grateful to OuTrop who believed in our duty to represent the organisation. We hope to meet our new friends at Gunung Palung again, possibly at other research projects, so we can learn more about orangutans, red langur monkeys, gibbons and Latin names together. Finally, we hope we left a good impression of the OuTrop Team with our friends at Gunung Palung.