The Orangutan Project

Guy Turner

On islands belonging to three of Australia’s closest neighbours live two of our closest relatives.

Both the Sumatran & Bornean Orangutans are critically endangered, in fact, there are now less than 7,000 Sumatran Orangutans left.

I first went to Borneo in 2004 where I properly became aware of the plight of these Orangutans and the Sumatran rhino & tiger which had been decimated by rainforest clearance for palm oil production from the mid 1960s onwards.

Before I go on about the Orangutans, I think it is necessary and fair to briefly discuss the palm oil problem.  The world was a very different place when the clearing began.  Indonesia has the largest rainforest outside of Brazil & Congo and a huge population focused on agriculture and tied to the main island of Java. From an economic and survival standpoint, utilising space and arable land was simply the economic reality of the time.   

Fast forward to today, weaning off the palm oil teat is proving to be difficult.  For Indonesia the industry represents 11% of their exports and production continues to grow as demand in China & India increases.  A moratorium placed against clearing of new forest in 2011 widely failed as policing of illegal logging failed.  In Malaysia the industry employs around 500k people and 77% of agricultural land is dedicated to palms.  Malaysian government policy mandating 5-10% palm oil biodesiel content for diesel sold in the country contributes to the continued growth, although the government has pledged to maintain half of the nation’s land as forest cover.  The palm oil industry also features in the US published List of Goods Produced by Child Labor & Forced Labor .

Information about the palm oil resistance movement can be found here but I invite you to understand that there is greater complexity to the issue than just boycotting Arnotts.  

Anyway, back to the Orangutans.  Tasch and I began following the work of The Orangutan Project (TOP) after returning from Borneo & Sarawak in 2012.  We had spent time at Uncle Tan’s Cabin where we participated (at a very low level) in some reforestation & awareness activities on the Kinabatangan River.

Seeing these amazing animals in the wild and understanding their attrition rate is over 10% per year made us want to help do something towards their preservation.

We are pleased to announce that $1 from every jigsaw sold will go towards Orangutan adoption.  We will place regular updates on our adopted Edge of Glory family in our communications.


Full details about TOP can be found here

We are also immensely proud of the work being done by our friends at the Perth Zoo, who have a TOP conservation project manager significant breeding program and have pioneered zoo breeding/wild releasing for the species, having now released both Temara and most recently Nyaru. Below is an interview with zookeeper Kylie Bollo who is also a TOP conservation project manager.