Established in 1971 by Dr. Biruté Galdikas and Rod Brindamour, Camp Leakey in the Tanjung Puting National Park in Central Kalimantan is the oldest orangutan Research and Conservation Center in the world. The name was taken to honor paleo-anthropologist Louis Leakey, mentor and inspiration to Dr. Biruté Galdikas. Louis Leakey also supported Diane Fossey in the research and protection of the gorillas in Africa and Dr. Jane Goodall in chimapanzees.
Originally consisting of only two simple huts and meant as Research Center for the great ape in Borneo, Camp Leakey has grown through the years and expanded to include conservation and rehabilitation efforts to save the endangered orangutans and release captured primates back into the wild. The Orangutan Foundation International organization is now also active in the conservation of rainforests to protect the habitat of the apes.
OFI also organizes special eco-tours led personally by Dr. Biruté Galdikas.
It is through the publication of research in Camp Leakey that the world has come to know about the orangutans. Until today, the organization remains active in supporting research by various universities in Indonesia and the United States, not only on the orangutan but also on the tropical environment that supports the primates.
Because of her unfailing devotion to the preservation of the orangutan, Dr. Galdikas is the most respected authority on these primates. Dr.Galdikas has received countless awards, including the Kalpataru Award from the Government of Indonesia, the highest award handed to pioneers in the preservation of Indonesia’s nature and environment. She also received the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, Gold Medal for Conservation, Chester Zoological Society (UK), PETA Humanitarian Award, United Nations Global 500 Award, and many more prestigious recognitions.
About the Borneo Orang Utan
Although originally said to inhabit many parts of Asia, the Borneo orangutans are today found only on the island of Borneo, and especially in the Indonesian part called Kalimantan.
The Borneo orangutans (pongo pygmaeus) today have their habitat in North West Borneo, namely in Malaysian Sarawak and the north of West Kalimantan, in Central Kalimantan and in the north east, in East Kalimantan and Malaysian Sabah.
These large apes are found to be highly intelligent and follow a cultural pattern. The Borneo species, however, are more solitary compared to their Sumatran counterparts. Orangutans are said to share 97% DNA with humans. In the wild they live to around 45 years, but in captivity they can age to 60 years. Males can grow to 100 kg and to 1.4 meters tall, while females can weigh to 50 kg, to a height of 1.2 meters.
Borneo orangutans feed on fruits, including figs and durians, leaves, bird eggs, honey and insects.
Although Borneo has the largest population of orangutans, yet today the species is threatened through rapidly shrinking habitat pushed back by forest fires and expanding human settlement, expanding palm-oil plantations, mining as well as being hunted to be sold as pets.
Indonesia has two species of Orangutans, namely the Borneo orangutan and the Sumatran orangutan. The Borneo orangutans are larger than their Sumatran cousins. They have rounder faces and male adults develop wide cheek fanges as they grow older. Unlike the Sumatran orangutans that live primarily in trees and rarely walk along the jungle floor, the Borneo species are often found walking on the ground on all fours using their palms or fists.
The nearest airport to Tanjung Puting National Park is the Iskandar Airport at Pangkalan Bun, west of Palangkaraya, capital of Central Kalimantan. A number of airlines fly to Pangkalan Bun including Trigana Air, and Kalstar Aviation.
The journey to Camp Leakey from Pangkalan Bun can take three days by small wooden boat liveaboards called klotok passing rivers and mangrove swamps.
There are a number of hotels at Pangkalan Bun.
A number of Travel agents offer adventure and eco-tours to Tanjung Puting National Park.
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