Our Top 20 Highlights from 2014

2014 has been a busy year for OuTrop. Although we can't include everything we have done over the past year on this list, here are the activities which we are particularly proud of. We hope you enjoy reading this as much as we enjoyed writing it!


1. Fighting forest fires

CIMTROP's Community Patrol Team (supported by OuTrop) successfully protected the Sabangau Forest from devastating forest fires, that raged across Borneo, during the 2014 drought.
Photo by Bernat Ripoll/OuTrop

2. Establishing a new Staff Development Programme

The future of Indonesia's wildlife rests in the hands of its people. We want to empower, engage and enable our local staff to reach their full potential through our new Staff Development Programme. Read our blog 'Local staff development: building for the future'.

Photo by Suzanne Turnock/OuTrop

3. Hosting our first Indonesian funded studentships

We now offer funded internships and studentships to young Indonesian scientists to help them pursue a career in wildlife research and conservation. Two students joined us this year and we will be expanding this programme in 2015 to offer more opportunities to aspiring Indonesian conservationists.

4. Supporting 15 student projects

We have supported 6 PhD, 4 Masters and 5 undergraduate students to collect data for their thesis during 2014. Projects have covered a wide variety of topics, from ranging and disperal in male orangutans to the importance of freshwater fish in the local communities.

5. Data, data, data!

We have continued to collect lots of important data on orangutans, gibbons, red langurs, felids, forest productivity, biodiversity and hydrology. Since 2003, we have done 2728 orangutan follows; totalling 20,839 hours collecting behavioural data. And that's just for orangutans!

Photo by Bernat Ripoll/OuTrop

6. Completing a 2-year camera trap project across Indonesian Borneo 

A 2-year camera trap project, led by OuTrop and the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, came to an end in 2014. Over 35,000 photographs and videos were recorded, which will provide us with an insight into the relative abundance of many of Borneo's endangered wildlife. Read our blog 'Two-year camera trap study complete!'

7.  We give a dam! Building 50 news dams to re-wet the swamp

Working with CIMTROP's Community Patrol Team, we built 50 dams in the drainage canals. These canals were dug, when Sabangau was logged before 2004, to remove timber from the forest. The new dams will help prevent fires as they keep the swamp wet and the saplings planted on top (230 in total) will increase the strength and longevity of the dams.

Photo by Matt Adam Williams/OuTrop

8. Embarking on a new sustainable livelihood project

We completed the construction of 4 new fish ponds. This is the initial stage in a sustainable livelihood initiative to benefit local people and provide incentives for conservation in the area.

Photo by Matt Adam Williams/OuTrop

9. Planting over 1,000 trees in Sabangau

With the help of volunteers, we planted 1,105 trees on the edge of the Sabangau Forest. Before planting, the trees took 2 years to grow in our nursery and will now be monitored every month to determine the success of this project.

Photo by OuTrop

10. Expanding our seedling nursery

As we have evolved over the past 15 years, our conservation efforts have grown and our reforestation project has expanded. To increase the number of trees we can plant each year, we needed a larger nursery to store all the saplings. Our new nursery building will not only provide storage space and an office, it will also be a training area for local students who are visiting the project.

Photo by Hendri/OuTrop

11. Ten years no timber 

2014 saw us reach the 10 year anniversary of no logging in the Sabangau Forest. When OuTrop first began, the sound of chainsaws in the forest was a daily occurrence. Now, the only noise we hear are the beautiful natural sounds of the rainforest. Read our blog 'Marking a decade of no logging in the Natural Laboratory, Sabangau'.

12. Launching our new logo

During 2014 we launched our new logo, which aims to better reflect the work of OuTrop. The logo encompasses a variety of species as well as the tree and peat/soil, all of which are key components of Bornean forest ecosystems, which is reflected in our approach to research and conservation. Read our blog 'OuTrop has a new logo! Why? See our film!'

13. Celebrating International Orangutan Day 2014

2014 was the first year we hosted an event in honour of International Orangutan Day. We welcomed the families of our staff to base camp, where they had the opportunity to learn about orangutans and the work of OuTrop. It was a fun day for all involved and will be the first of many! Read our blog 'Why is International Orangutan Day important?'

Photo by Bernat Ripoll/OuTrop

14. Publishing our findings

We are always proud when our long hours in the field pay off and we publish our research. This allows us to share our findings with a wider audience and contribute to conservation efforts further afield. Our team have had a busy year writing papers, guidelines and guide books. A recent highlight has been publishing our guide to the ants of Sabangau. Read our blog 'Presenting OuTrop's fANTastic new Sabangau Ant Guide!'

Photo by Erik Frank/OuTrop

15. Presenting our work at international conferences

OuTrop aims to support conservation at the local, national and international level. One way we do this is sharing our scientific methods, research results and knowledge. This year we presented our work at the IUCN Peatland Programme meeting in the UK, the International Primatological Society conference in Vietnam (where our PhD student, Ben Buckley, won 2nd place in the student poster competition!) and the Global Initiatives Networking Youth Conference in Bali.

16. Sharing our stories

During 2014, we have had good media exposure, which is a great platform for us to promote our conservation mission. Our news has appeared in the Daily Mail (UK newspaper), The Ecologist and Mongabay as well as receiving radio coverage on BBC Radio 4.

Photo by Andrew Walmsley/OuTrop

17. First 'Rainforest:Live' event

We brought 11 conservation organisations together for the first 'Rainforest: Live'. Using social media, we shared live wildlife sightings from rainforests across South East Asia and reached tens of thousands of people around the world.

18. Working with wonderful volunteers

This year we were joined by 14 volunteers in two groups who came to Sabangau to assist with our conservation and research projects. Their hard work, enthusiasm and commitment definitely made an impact. We rely on our volunteers to support our work and are always grateful for their contributions. Applications are open to join us in 2015 – apply now!

Photo by Suzanne Turnock/OuTrop

19. Welcoming visitors to Sabangau

We regularly welcome local university students to base camp. Not only are they able to see and learn about our work and gain a better understanding of the value of these forests, but they also have the opportunity to learn new forestry skills.

Photo by Suzanne Turnock/OuTrop

20. Becoming a partner of the Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP)

OuTrop was delighted this year to join GRASP as a partner and we are looking forward to promoting habitat protection and ape conservation within this extensive global partnership. Read our blog 'Working hand in hand: becomes partner of the Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP)'.