Rescuing our endangered orangutans: Orangutan Foundation International

There’s no question that Palm Oil harvesting is rapidly wiping out rainforests and destroying the natural habitat of our beautiful endangered orangutans. Did you know about the intensive rehabilitation process that ex-captive orangutans need to go through in order to survive? 

This International Orangutan Day, we take a look at Orangutan Foundation International and the amazing work they do to rescue and rehabilitate these special creatures back to the wild, ultimately saving our precious orangutans.

What is Orangutan Foundation International?

Orangutan Foundation International (OFI) is a non-profit organisation that does incredible conversation work for wild orangutans and their rainforest habitat. OFI was established in 1986 by Dr Birute Mary Galdikas, internationally renowned environmentalist, anthropologist and the world’s foremost orangutan expert. The organisation has 5 key focus areas: rescue, rehabilitation, release, land purchase & protection (purchasing forest land before the palm oil companies can destroy it) and reseeding/replanting (to restore degraded forest areas).

The Orangutan Care Centre & Quarantine

In 1998, OFI established the Orangutan Care Centre and Quarantine (OCCQ) facility in Central Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo, which is home to over 300 orphaned and displaced orangutans. These orangutans have been orphaned due to the destruction of their habitat for palm oil plantations, illegal logging & mining. Many are rescued victims of the illegal exotic wildlife trade. It’s also where sick and injured wild orangutans are brought to, to receive the emergency veterinary care they need, before being relocated to safe forests.

How do they bring the orangutans back to health?

The Care Centre is a half-way house for orangutans, providing them with food, shelter and love along with the forest skills they will need when they are old enough to be released back into the wild, giving them the very best chance of survival. All new arrivals initially undergo a 30-day quarantine and extensive health check before joining their peers in the general population. 

The amazing surrogate mothers providing 24/7 care for the babies

In the wild, infant orangutans share an intense bond with their Mothers and do not leave them until they are at least 8 or 9 years of age. For the first two years of a young orangutan’s life, he or she is completely dependent on their mother for absolutely everything. When infant orangutans arrive at the Care Centre, they are often still completely traumatised by the loss of their mothers and in ill health from lack of good nutrition. They are given a surrogate human mother, who becomes their caregiver until they become large juveniles. These surrogate mothers become the centre of that orangutan’s world. As so many infants come to the Care Centre physically, mentally and/or emotionally wounded, they need intense care for many years. 

Preparing the orangutans for release into the wild

Aside from the infant orangutans needing to be fed, housed and cared for, they also need to begin to learn how to survive in the wild. Daily enrichment activity is provided by trained staff and occasional volunteers to ensure the orangutans have satisfactory cognitive development as well as mental and sensory well-being. 

They need to learn how to make night nests in trees, how to forage, process wild foods and how to move completely through the canopy. Daily outings to ‘forest school’ are a critical part of the enrichment program and for much of the day, the rescued infant orangutans are free to explore forage and play in a learning forest under the watchful eyes of their caregivers. This is a critical part of their rehabilitation process as they learn to live and survive in the wild. 

Saving Orangutans by buying palm-oil free

The biggest constraint on releasing orangutans back into the wild is securing suitable release areas. Due to massive deforestation caused by the expansion of palm oil plantations, there is very little safe forest left to release the rehabilitated orangutans. This is why making the choice to purchase palm-oil free products (including palm oil derivatives) has such a profound impact on the future of our precious orangutans. 

Our entire range is certified palm oil free, and in fact we are the first ever palm-oil free skincare range that is day spa quality. By purchasing our skincare, you can feel proud to make a difference. We’ve also recently published an article that goes into some interesting facts about palm oil in skincare, click here if you would like to learn more about this.


Supporting Orangutan Foundation International Australia

If you wish to support this foundation, you can become a virtual foster parent by donating to some gorgeous orangutans that are currently in the centre, or you make a tax deductible donation on their website too! 

Photos copyright © Orangutan Foundation International Australia

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