TOP poised to secure survival of rehabilitated Bornean orangutans with newly protected habitat

Non-partisan orangutan welfare organization commits to raising $600,000 by the end of 2020

NEW YORKNov. 14, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- The Orangutan Project, an organization focused on securing the survival of orangutans and other Critically Endangered species, and their key Indonesian ground partners have been working for more than three years to secure a vitally important rainforest area within a 712,000-acre ecosystem in Borneo.

The rainforest is lowland and riverine, making it prime habitat for Critically Endangered Bornean orangutans.

Mary (above) was rescued by The Orangutan Project and the Bornean Orangutan Rescue Alliance (BORA). After many years of rehabilitation, Mary will hopefully be released into the newly protected ecosystem.


The proposed newly protected concession will be an important part of The Orangutan Project's goal to help secure the survival of Bornean orangutans.

It will enable them to support the safe release of rescued and rehabilitated orangutans, all victims of Borneo's mass deforestation, and help them establish an "insurance population" for the now Critically Endangered species.

"Even before the COVID-19 crisis led to a spike in deforestation, Bornean orangutans were facing disaster," said Leif Cocks, founder and president of The Orangutan Project. "Since 2002, more than 150,000 have been displaced, hunted or killed as agricultural 'pests' which is more than half their population.

"We're witnessing the population collapse of one of our closest cousins, and orangutans will be doomed to extinction in our lifetime unless urgent interventions are made."

These interventions include rapid-response rescues for orangutans displaced through deforestation or stolen by the illegal wildlife trade, long-term rehabilitation for rescued orangutans, and urgent moves to legally secure and protect remaining lowland ecosystems so orangutans can thrive in secure populations.

To this end, The Orangutan Project and partners have been working with authorities for more than three years, to legally protect a rainforest ecosystem that had previously been earmarked for conversion into palm oil plantations. Once complete, together with their partner's concessions, they'll be helping protect more than 700,000 acres of prime, lowland, richly biodiverse rainforest.

What happens next?

The Orangutan Project is now urgently seeking donations to secure this game-changing process.  The plans have been developed, the application for permits submitted, and they've raised the funds required to initially secure the protected area. 

"Securing intact areas of remaining lowland habitat and placing viable populations of orangutans under permanent protection is now critical to securing their survival," said Cocks. "This is a complex undertaking, but if we can secure this habitat whilst maintaining our vital rescue and rehabilitation programs - we will change the game for Critically Endangered Bornean orangutans."

They now need to raise over $600,000 by Dec. 31 to establish the orangutan release program and to resource and train the critical team of community wildlife protection officers urgently required to keep the ecosystem safe from poaching and illegal encroachment.

Funds to this appeal will also resource the rapid-response rescues and long-term rehabilitation that every displaced, captive and orphaned orangutan requires, before they can be safely released into this protected habitat.

Additional Information

Securing rainforest in Indonesia is complex. The Orangutan Project and partners have established PT HOPE - a legal Indonesian entity that has the legal framework to lease and manage land. They have been working very closely with the relevant authorities for more than three years, to manage an ex-timber license and to re-designate the area as an Ecosystem Restoration Concession (ERC) to be managed under their shared protection. 

This year, The Orangutan Project and partner, the Centre for Orangutan Protection also created the Bornean Orangutan Rescue Alliance (BORA) to provide urgent assistance to highly vulnerable, displaced orangutans, and to confiscate illegally held orangutans.

To contribute to this fundraising campaign, visit:

Gifts will be directed straight to: resourcing rapid response orangutan rescues, providing rehabilitation and jungle school, and safeguarding and patrolling this newly protected rainforest ecosystem.

About The Orangutan Project
The Orangutan Project (TOP) is a non-partisan organization that collaborates with several orangutan conservation projects on the ground in Indonesia to support the conservation and rehabilitation of orangutans and the preservation of their forest habitat.  Founded by world-renowned orangutan expert Leif Cocks, The Orangutan Project's goal is to ensure the survival of the orangutan species in their natural habitat. For more information, visit 

TOP-USA is a dba of the Orang Utan Republik Foundation (OURF). OURF serves as the fiscal sponsor of TOP to provide nonprofit status in the United States. 

Heather Ripley
Orange Orchard
(865) 977-1973

SOURCE The Orangutan Project


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