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Responsible tourism: Orangutan conservation in East Kalimantan, Indonesia
Samboja Lestari is one of Indonesia’s most prestigious and renowned orangutan rehabilitation and rescue centres, and one of the main focal points of BOS (‘The Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation’), who have a mission of:
1. Accelerating the release of Bornean orangutans from ex-situ to in-situ locations 2. Encouraging the protection of Bornean orangutans and their habitat 3. Increasing the empowerment of local communities surrounding the orangutan’s habitat 4. Supporting research and education activities for the conservation of Bornean orangutans and their habitat 5. Promoting the participation of and partnership with all land stakeholders 6. Strengthening institutional capacity for education programmes
At the centre, the emphasis is on rehabilitation of orangutans – many of whom were rescued from atrocious situations. The overriding goal of this is to reintroduce orangutans back to secure natural habitats in order to establish new viable long-term populations to bolster the conservation of the species in the wild.
Each orangutan is placed through a rigorous quarantine process before the rehabilitation process and subsequent release can begin. This is very important, as many rescued orangutans have been exposed to human diseases which they would not normally encounter in the wild.
Sadly, many of the orangutans resident here cannot ever be released back into the wild because of injury or illness. For these orangutans, the sanctuary provides them with a safe haven where they can live out the rest of their lives – away from the threat of deforestation and human destruction.
Aside from the 200 or so orangutans being rehabilitated here, Samboja Lestari is also the home to 52 sun bears that were all rescued from the illegal pet trade or from areas of major forest deforestation. The sanctuary includes a 58 hectares (0.22 sq mi) area put aside for the bears including a 55 hectare patch of fenced secondary forest with maturing fruit trees, a river and a second area of approximately 3 hectares.
What’s more, the local people are gaining both financially and environmentally from this sanctuary and from the presence and support of the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation. They receive income from the sale of the land, from salaries working in the rehabilitation area, from the money made by selling the fruits and vegetables grown in between the planted trees, and from money from the sugar palm activities and from the salaries they receive every month for protecting the area. However they also benefit through less fire hazards, improved health conditions, the creation of local industries, the year-round supply of better water for irrigated rice fields and less flooding or severe water supply problems during wet and dry season.
What's more, the presence of BOS has also promoted forms of farming that do not involve burning and destroying forests, switching to agriculture combining rattan, sugar palms, pineapples, papayas, beans, and corn along with other fruits and vegetables. As a result, a community of 2,000 local Indonesians has developed who can now support themselves on this land.